Marriage is a journey filled with ups and downs, requiring immense effort, compromise, and understanding from both partners. However, when a narcissist enters the equation, the already complex dynamics of marriage become even more challenging. This begs the question: How long can a narcissist stay married?
In this blog post, we will explore the complexities of being married to a narcissist and discuss the potential outcomes of such unions.
Why do Narcissists Get Married?
Narcissists may choose to get married for various reasons, which are often centered around serving their own needs and desires.
Here are some common motivations and dynamics behind why a narcissist might enter into a marriage:
Ego Boost. Narcissists crave constant admiration and validation. They may see marriage as a way to have a permanent source of narcissistic supply, someone who will continually inflate their ego and cater to their needs for attention and adoration.
Image Maintenance. Narcissists are often concerned with their public image and how they are perceived by others. Getting married can help them project a “normal” and socially acceptable image, which can enhance their status and provide a sense of validation.
Control and Manipulation. Marriage offers a platform for narcissists to exert control and manipulate their partner. They may use their spouse as a pawn in their game of power, exploiting their vulnerabilities and using emotional manipulation tactics to maintain dominance in the relationship.
Security and Stability. Despite their outward confidence, narcissists are often deeply insecure. Marriage can provide a sense of stability and security, as they seek a partner who can meet their emotional and material needs and provide a consistent source of support.
External Validation. Narcissists rely heavily on external validation to boost their self-worth. Getting married allows them to showcase their ability to attract and maintain a partner, feeding their need for admiration and proving their desirability to others
The Narcissistic Abuse Cycle
The narcissistic abuse cycle refers to the repetitive pattern of behaviors that a narcissist engages in to exert control, manipulate, and emotionally harm their victims.
This cycle typically consists of three main phases: idealization, devaluation, and discard.
It is important to note that the cycle may repeat itself, with the narcissist oscillating between idealization, devaluation, and discard.
This creates a continuous pattern of emotional abuse and instability, leaving the victim feeling trapped, confused, and emotionally damaged.
During this phase, the narcissist idealizes their victim, showering them with love, attention, and admiration.
They may appear charming, generous, and attentive, making the victim feel special and loved.
This stage is often referred to as “love bombing.
The narcissist uses this intense affection to gain the trust and loyalty of their victim.
After the idealization phase, the narcissist’s true colors start to emerge.
The narcissist may become emotionally distant, dismissive, or even hostile towards their victim.
This phase is marked by constant criticism, belittling, and intentionally causing emotional pain to maintain control over their victim.
In the discard phase, the narcissist abruptly ends the relationship or withdraws their affection and support.
The victim is left confused, hurt, and often blamed for the relationship’s failure.
The narcissist may discard their victim without any remorse or empathy, seeking out a new source of validation and supply.
This phase can be particularly devastating for the victim, as they grapple with the sudden loss and rejection.
Narcissists and Marriage
Marriage adds an additional layer of complexity to the narcissistic abuse cycle. When a narcissist gets married, the dynamics of power and control become intertwined with the commitment and intimacy of a marital relationship
The Initial Attraction
Narcissists are often charismatic and charming, making them attractive to potential partners. They can initially sweep their spouse off their feet with grand gestures, flattery, and intense attention.
However, it’s important to recognize that these behaviors as a manipulation tactic known as “love bombing.”
Once the honeymoon phase is over, the true nature of the narcissist begins to emerge.
Control and Manipulation
Narcissists have an insatiable desire for control and dominance.
They possess an overwhelming need to be the center of attention and have their desires met at all times.
In a marriage, this can lead to a power struggle, as the narcissist constantly seeks to manipulate and dominate their spouse.
They may use emotional manipulation, gaslighting, and even physical abuse to maintain control.
In addition, marriage also introduces potentially complex financial and legal complications, since it often involves shared assets, joint financial responsibilities, and legal ties.
Narcissists may exploit these factors to further control and manipulate their spouse.
They may use financial abuse tactics, such as controlling the finances, withholding money, or sabotaging the victim’s financial independence.
Decline of Emotional Intimacy
One of the hallmarks of a healthy marriage is emotional intimacy, which requires vulnerability, empathy, and open communication.
Unfortunately, narcissists are not interested in the emotions of anyone other than themselves, which makes it impossible for them to forge a genuine emotional connection with their partner.
As a result, marriages with narcissistic partners often lack emotional depth, leaving the non-narcissistic spouse feeling unseen, unheard, and emotionally neglected.
Infidelity and External Validation
Narcissists thrive on external validation and attention.
They may seek validation through extramarital affairs, flirting with others, or engaging in other forms of emotional or physical infidelity.
The non-narcissistic spouse is left feeling betrayed, hurt, and insecure, further eroding the foundation of trust within the marriage.
Escalating Conflict and Divorce
As the marriage progresses, conflicts tend to escalate due to the narcissist’s inability to take responsibility, compromise, or empathize with their partner’s needs.
This pattern often leads to a toxic cycle of arguments, emotional abuse, and manipulation.
Narcissists and Divorce
Ultimately, many marriages involving narcissistic partners end in divorce, as the non-narcissistic spouse realizes the need to prioritize their wellbeing and escape the toxic environment.
The narcissist themself may not want to divorce for several reasons.
Need for Control. Narcissists thrive on having power and control over others. By staying in the marriage, they can continue to exert control over their spouse, manipulating them to meet their needs and desires. Divorce would mean relinquishing some of that control, which is something a narcissist typically resists.
Fear of Abandonment. Narcissists have a deep fear of abandonment and rejection. Divorce represents a significant form of rejection, and the idea of being divorced can be perceived as a blow to their ego and self-esteem. They may resist divorce to avoid facing this fear and to maintain the illusion of a stable relationship.
Desire for Supply. Narcissists thrive on attention, admiration, and validation from others, often referred to as “narcissistic supply.” Within the marriage, they have a consistent and readily available source of supply in their spouse. If they were to divorce, they might lose this dependable source of validation, which they are unwilling to let go of.
Retaliation and Revenge. Narcissists may resist divorce as a means of seeking revenge on their spouse. They may use the divorce process to manipulate, punish, or emotionally harm their partner. By dragging out the divorce proceedings, they can continue to exert control and create distress for their spouse.
Protecting Their Image. Narcissists are highly concerned with their public image and how they are perceived by others. Divorce can tarnish their image and disrupt the facade of a perfect relationship they have created. They may resist divorce to avoid scrutiny, judgment, or embarrassment from others
Conclusion – How Long Can a Narcissist Stay Married?
Being married to a narcissist can be an incredibly challenging experience.
The initial charm and charisma of a narcissistic partner inevitably fade, revealing a manipulative and controlling personality.
Emotional intimacy suffers, conflicts escalate, and trust erodes.
As the narcissistic abuse cycle continues, victims may find themselves trapped in a toxic and emotionally damaging relationship. The complexities of marriage further compound the difficulties, with financial and legal complications adding to the distress.
So the answer to the question ‘How Long Can a Narcissist Stay Married?’ is simple. The narcissist stays married for as long as their partner is willing to put up with their psychological and emotional abuse.
Thus it is crucial that spouses caught in such traumatizing and exhausting relationships reach out for help and strive to break free from this destructive cycle.
While it can be a daunting and emotionally exhausting journey, there is hope for healing and rebuilding one’s life.
You deserve to be in a healthy and fulfilling relationship where your emotional and psychological well-being are valued and respected. Seek the help you need to regain your sense of self and create a brighter future.
Frequently Asked Questions About Narcissists and Marriage
Maintaining a successful marriage with a narcissist is extremely challenging, as their self-centered behavior often leads to emotional abuse and a lack of genuine emotional connection. While some narcissists may be able to temporarily adjust their behavior to keep a marriage intact, long-term sustainable change is rare without professional intervention.
The decision to stay in a marriage with a narcissist is deeply personal and depends on various factors. However, it is important to prioritize your own well-being and consider the impact of the narcissistic behaviors on your emotional and psychological health. Seeking professional help and support from trusted individuals can provide guidance in making this difficult decision.
Protecting yourself in a marriage with a narcissist requires setting firm boundaries, seeking support from professionals or support groups, and prioritizing self-care. Educate yourself on narcissistic behavior patterns, develop a support network, and consider consulting with a therapist who specializes in narcissistic abuse to gain insight and develop strategies for coping and protecting yourself.