They say that “to be wed is to know bliss“, right?
But what happens if you find yourself married to a narcissist?
You may be one of those people who found themselves unlucky in love—and chained to a narcissist in unholy matrimony.
There are many different ways to spot a narcissist and one of their telltales signs is… they will eventually reveal their true colors.
And when that happens, it may be too late and you will have to face the tough decision of either dealing with them as-is (because they won't change) or divorcing your narcissist spouse.
If your partners behavior is under suspicion for narcissistic patterns, be on the lookout for these 55 warning signs you married a narcissist..
Narcissist Spouse Warning Signs
1. Grandiose Persona
One of the top ways to spot a narcissist is to look for the grandiose persona. In a narcissist’s mind, they are better, smarter, more powerful and more deserving than everyone around them—including you. They waste no time in aiming to impress anyone’s path they cross.
2. You begin to feel isolated
After all the marital bliss has settled and you move on in your lives as wedded partners, you may realize a shift. It may not happen immediately, but soon, you will begin to feel isolated.
Your partner will begin to isolate you from your friends and family. This will have devastating consequences on your mental health. They are incredible manipulators that can have you guessing why you were even friends to begin with.
3. You Are Criticized
Your narcissistic spouse will inevitably begin criticizing every move you make. They take a sick pleasure and causing you to second guess yourself and breed self-doubt. This is a control and manipulating mechanism that puts them in the driver’s seat of your life.
4. They Even Criticize Your Childrearing
How disturbing is it to have your spouse judge how you raise your children? Narcissists will hit below the belt and even use the children to their leverage in arguments. Some narcissistic spouses may use their work habits as a way to negate taking care of the children as well.
5. Gaslighting Galore
Gaslighting and narcissists go hand in hand. Things like “Oh stop, you’re being paranoid” and “I never said that!” when you know they did. Gaslighting is when they have you questioning your own sanity and reality. This is very dangerous and the ultimate emotional abuse.
6. They Use Your Family Against You
Narcissists seek an army in order to destroy. They will use your family in attempts to turn them against you. They can pass it off as “confiding” in them as they complain about you to get the attention off of themselves. The mission? Get to them before you do.
7. They Love Your Jealousy
Who would want to make someone feel jealous? Narcissists. They get off on strategically putting you in situations to light up your jealousy flares. This strokes their egos and stokes your insecurities—a dangerous combination.
8. From Charm to Alarm
To sweep you off your feet, the narcissist will pull out all the stops to woo you. After you’re married? Things begin to shift—dramatically. They no longer feel the need to woo you as you are now their ‘property’. Compliments may only come out when you are in front of others when the ‘show’ goes on.
9. Jealous of the Children
If you had children with a narcissist, odds are you have had the conversation about time with the children versus time with your spouse. Narcissistic spouses argue that your attention need be more on them and not the children. They can become resentful of the attention they ‘lose’ to your child. This can also be the other way around where the narcissist focuses solely on the baby—and not you.
10. Their Own Favorite Story
Narcissists love to dwell on how fantastic they see themselves (even if it is just to combat the crippling sense of insecurity). They will exaggerate their self-importance and ensure you and everyone else knows how amazing they are.
11. Never Settles for Less than the Best
A narcissist loves the finer things in life—and for everyone to see that they have them. Outward image means a great deal to them and they will try to control how others see them. Their inner reality is shadowed by their need for external validation and attention.
12. Social Media Star
Many narcissists turn to social media to engage their external validation needs. They aim to get as many likes, comments and follows as possible to really flex those popularity wings. This promotion of self weens out their shortcomings in their own minds.
13. Their Needs First
Needs being met should go both ways; however, for the narcissist, it is always them first. They will not hesitate to take any situation and turn themselves into the victim. They use this manipulative mentality to control and ultimately get what they want.
14. Takers Not Givers
Narcissists focus on giving in the beginning in order to swoop you up—but in the end, their main focus is getting what they need. And don’t think it will shift back to you; they will ultimately leave you and your needs in the dust.
15. Taking it Personally
Narcissists take everything personally—to the point you will be beaten into silence. If you say anything they perceive as a threat, they will attack.
16. Lack of Empathy
Even when others are struggling, narcissists fail to notice. They are completely insensitive to others—including their family and friends.
17. Belittles Others
As in school children, narcissists are like bullies—they build themselves up by breaking others down. They break down self-worth and piece their sense of grandiose together with your remains.
18. Control Freak Alert
Narcissists will try to control absolutely everything. They will control how you speak, move, think and act. They will do this until you no longer behave as your authentic self—and they win.
19. Never Wrong
Narcissists cannot really comprehend the fact they have could be at fault for anything and will typically never apologize willingly.. They will shift the focus onto you and make you feel like you are the narcissists (hello again, gaslighting!).
20. Not Responsible for Anything
Narcissists will not take responsibility or accountability for much of anything. They will somehow always turn the tables onto being yours and everyone else’s fault. They are master manipulators at playing the victim.
21. Ticking Time Bomb
Ever heard of narcissistic rage? That’s a real thing. Due to their insecurities, they will wait in hiding to explode on anyone who should criticize them—no matter how small a criticism. Narcissistic rage and manipulation will be the fallout from any perceived ‘judgment’.
22. The Punisher
Along with the rage, a narcissist's aim is to punish. You will be held responsible for your ‘maltreatment’ or a narcissist. This is a part of their manipulation tactic to completely control you—and your behavior.
23. Broadcasting Their Generosity
Narcissists need to control how the world views them. Therefore, when they do something nice for you or anyone else, you can be sure they will broadcast it for everyone to know just how amazing they are. No deed goes unposted.
24. Scene Creator
If you ‘act up’ in public according to a narcissist, they will not hesitate to put you in your (public) place. Known for creating a scene, narcissists are ruthless in their pursuit to showcase themselves as the victim and you as the wrongdoer.
Narcissists will use people and throw them away like yesterday’s garbage. They get what they need from you, boast it in, then you are discarded. Spouses are included here too.
26. Cannot Trust
Narcissists believe that no one can fully be trusted. This is ironic being they are typically the ones who cannot be trusted. Narcissistic spouses will never even trust their own spouses—no matter how long they’ve been together.
Being that narcissists are desperate for incessant adoration from others, you can rest assured your narcissistic spouse will not stay faithful to you. They will even convince you that somehow it was your fault because you did something that drove them into the arms—or bed—of another person.
28. Hypocrisy is Their Middle Name
No matter the case, you are not allowed to do what they are. Narcissists have a double standard they live their lives by, and even if they do something, you cannot. That’s just the way it is.
29. Threatening Nature
Narcissists will turn to veiled threats if their control and manipulation attempts do not work on you. If you dare challenge them in their stance, they turn threatening—and quickly.
30. Vengeance Be Thy Name
Don’t think for a moment that narcissists will forget to punish you—or ever give up. Narcissistic partners will seek vengeance upon you or anyone who judges or questions them. Don’t even think about:
- Having fun without them
- Expressing how you feel, your needs
- Try to prove your point/argue
- Not allow them to cross your boundaries
31. Rules Do Not Apply
Narcissists believe they are forever the exception to the rules; they do not apply to them. They tailor their moral and value system to what provides the most benefit for them.
32. They Control the Finances
A narcissistic spouse controls all the finances—and what is done with them. You will not be granted access to the financial statements nor accounts—and if you bring in money to the house too, it is their money.
Narcissists do not respect boundaries—even if they are yours. Boundaries do not apply to them if they do not suit their needs. They even enjoy crossing the line to show you they can do as they please.
34. The Perfect Family
A narcissist wouldn’t be a narcissist if they didn’t want to convey the image of a perfect family. Even if you are dying inside, they will beat you into portraying everything is perfect. You and your children are not free to be your authentic selves.
35. Sex God/dess
Narcissistic spouses must be praised—even in the bedroom. It’s another tool used for them to be worshipped as a sex god/dess to boost their ego. They can be known for pushing the sexual boundary—whether you are comfortable with it or not.
36. After an Assault—nothing
After a narcissist spews their venom, they quickly act as if nothing had happened. They cannot be held accountable for anything so they will not dwell on what they did—even if it hurt you.
37. Don’t expect an apology
Ever. Narcissists will never apologize, even if they are clearly wrong. “Sorry” is not a word that exists in their vocabulary. They’d sooner die.
38. Addictions Galore
Narcissists tend to be engulfed with addiction. Whether it be porn, alcohol, gambling, work, fights, etc.—they are all addicted to something. It may even just be attention…their biggest addiction.
39. Always Looking for a Deal
Even in relationships, narcissists are forever on the hunt for a better deal. They will exchange their car, upgrade their phone plan, update their profile picture when a better picture is taken. They will even replace you as their partner for the greener pastures.
40. The Ultimate Saboteur
Narcissists love to sabotage the relationship—yet will not let you go either. They find pleasure in being able to have enough control to pull you back and forth. It is a game for them.
41. You Do the Hard Work
It is common for narcissists to make you feel like you are doing most of the work in the marriage. They would rather idly sit back and let you handle it; especially if things go wrong, they can blame you.
Narcissists are only focused on the benefit of themselves and no one else’s. Therefore, decisions can ultimately be one-sided. Financial, travel, relocating—they will choose option “me”.
43. Unsafe in Love
You may begin to feel unsafe if you are married to a narcissist. Never knowing when the next disaster is going to occur, narcissists flourish on keeping you submissive to their quick-pull-trigger mood changes.
44. Shifting Moods
Narcissists are famous for their shifting moods—and fast. Their immediate surroundings can affect their moods on a dime; especially if they feel judged or ridiculed. Look out.
45. “Never Enough” Mentality
No matter what you do, you will never fully satisfy a narcissist. They have a never-fed appetite for attention, adoration and being worshipped. It will leave you drained and exhausted.
46. Say Goodbye to Celebrations
If you celebrate your birthday or other celebrations surrounding yourself, say goodbye to them. Narcissists will go out of their way to sabotage your special day since the focus is not on them. Look out for the tantrums and cancellations.
47. Conversational Downer
Narcissists struggle with being good conversationalists. Whether they are interrupting your story or showing a serious lack of interest, they are not interested in hearing what you have to say—unless it praises them.
48. Embellishing Embellishers
Narcissists will embellish their stories to make themselves seem more appealing. Anything to receive more attention and adoration, count them in. Stories may even be embellished to the point they are unbelievable; it still gets them attention.
49. Acts like a Toddler
Narcissists lack the ability to be able to handle their emotions. Have you ever seen a grown person throw a tantrum, pout, stomp their feet? This is what happens when they do not receive the attention they want.
50. Projection Masters
Narcissists project their wrongdoings onto their spouses. Their sense of superior importance cannot handle a disruption in their hand-picked reality.
51. Cannot See Themselves as Problematic
No matter how many specialists and therapists tell your spouse they are a narcissist, they will refuse to believe it is real. There will always be an escape route or cop-out as to why they are that why—or why they cannot possibly be that way.
There are two distinct sides to your narcissistic spouse. One is public, the other is home life. In public, your spouse will appear charming, loving and appealing. But behind closed doors, the Jekyll and Hyde effect rears its ugly head.
53. Believes Everyone is Jealous of Them
Narcissists believe others are jealous of them—while truly being jealous of others. They compare themselves to those who they perceive are doing ‘better’ than them and either demean them—or compete to be better.
Whether it be hiding their phone so you can never see their screen or disappearing into the night and being vague about their whereabouts, narcissists love to play hide-and-seek. They know they are up to no good but do not see an issue with it. It’s both
- None of your business, and
- They are satisfying their constant need for attention
55. Accustomed as an Accuser
Narcissists will play the accuser role any time they see fit. They are accustomed to accuser you while in truth, they are the ones who are committed the wrongdoing. They will alleviate their screw ups by pointing the finger at you—over and over again.
After You Discovered You ARE Married To a Narcissist
If you should find yourself married to a narcissist, do not let it cause you any unnecessary stress—you can make it through this!
Immediate Next Steps
1. Keep Yourself Safe
If you are married to a narcissist and experience the wrath of their narcissistic rage, you MUST get yourself to safety. You can never know how far a narcissist will really go. The verbal assaults can turn physical and even deadly, in the most extreme cases.
Set boundaries and stand your ground. If they continue to violate them, know the resources in your local community should you have to leave in a hurry.
It is time to take care of yourself! You must learn to prioritize yourself as you cannot be expected to pour from an empty cup.
Join activities through your local community and begin a “self-care” plan. This can include exercise and meditation, scheduling time with loved ones and nurturing yourself.
3. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Easier said than done; however, you must remind yourself to never take anything personally when dealing with a narcissist. They are famous for pointing the finger and blame-placing—anything to get the heat off of themselves.
Your spouse’s behavior is a reflection of them—not you! Learn how to emotionally separate yourself from their attacks and manipulation.
4. Look for Support
Researching online and in-person support can be crucial for your healing if you are married to a narcissist. A therapist, group therapy and even your closest friends/family can make all the difference as you navigate through your marriage.
5. Know When to Call it Quits
If you can no longer tolerate being married to a narcissist, it is imperative for you to know when to LET IT GO. Narcissists do not change as they do not possess the ability to empathize, take responsibility nor admit to having a personality disorder. Ending things will save yourself more years of abuse and unhappiness.
Work on a plan for how you aim to ask for a divorce, get your finances in order and contact a legal team to support you through the next harrowing process.
Making a Marriage Work with a Narcissist
If you aim to reconcile your differences and manage your relationship with your narcissistic spouse, there are several ways to begin the process. Many marriages with narcissists can survive—and even thrive! If love and respect are present—and with these 6 tips—it's possible that you can have a successful, healthy marriage being married to a narcissist without any toxicity.
1. Accept Who They Are
Many spouses of a narcissistic partner have a difficult time in accepting them for who they really are. Instead of trying to ‘change’ them, learn to accept them and their personality disorder. Accept there is no changing them.
2. Focus On Yourself Instead
Narcissists manipulate their spouses to give them endless attention. They will even require you to neglect yourself for the benefit of them! Set a boundary and teach yourself to put yourself FIRST to break the cycle.
3. Expect Their Defiance
Narcissists despise boundaries as they feel rules do not apply to them. In order to prevent an emotional fallout from their pushing back, expect them to be defiant in the first place. This way, you will not be taken off-guard and can be better prepared to continue to stand your ground and defend your position.
4. Don’t Accept the Blame
You know it’s coming—the blame game. This can no longer be tolerated. Do not accept the blame no matter how hard they push. You do not deserve to demean yourself to soothe their ego.
5. Actions, Not Words
When asking your narcissistic spouse for something, ask for immediate action and NOT just empty promises. Narcissists are charmers and have a way with words. Do not fall for it!
6. Professional Assistance
Narcissists may need assistance from a professional. Be prepared for the ultimate defensive stance from your spouse as they do not accept criticism well. Do remember that getting help is ultimately their choice—not yours.
PRO TIP: Please also recognize when YOU need professional assistance. Being the spouse of a narcissist definitely takes its toll on both mental and physical health. You must also remember to think of you and your well-being and not just theirs.
Divorcing a Narcissist
Sometimes, enough is enough. You have tried everything: therapy, standing your ground, setting boundaries… Sometimes, things just do not work out. First and foremost, knowing when to call it quits is pivotal. Here are 5 tips to know when it's time to divorce a narcissist.
1. Your Safety
If your mental and physical health are failing, it is time to move on. If the abuse has also turned physically violent and is endangering your well-being, you must relocate to a safe place.
If you have been completely isolated from your loved ones, it may be time to move on from your narcissistic spouse. If you are feeling empty and lonely more often than not, your relationship needs are no longer being met.
3. Loss of Enthusiasm
If you are no longer excited to wake up and experience life, your relationship may be the main factor. Being married to a narcissist wreaks havoc on the enjoyment in life.
4. You Give In
If you find yourself constantly giving in to the endless demands of your narcissistic partner, it is time to call it quits. This will inevitably result in you no longer taking care of as well as belittling yourself and your own needs.
5. Loss of Self
Narcissists will manipulate you into believing everything is your fault. You may begin to question who you are in addition to questioning your own sanity. It’s time to move on.
PRO TIP: You must forgive yourself. The most important step of all—you must forgive yourself. You did not mean to fall into the trap of marrying a narcissist. Forgive yourself for not knowing any better and praise yourself for choosing yourself this time.
Married To a Narcissist FAQs
The unfortunate truth is that narcissists are everywhere.
Hiding in plain sight.
With this list, you will be able to spot a narcissist from a mile away—and if you are fortunate enough, before you find yourself wedded in unholy matrimony.
These 55 signs you are married to a narcissist will help you be certain you need marital help.
Your life is your own and you must focus on staying true to yourself and staying mentally, physically and emotionally happy.
There is help out there if you should find yourself married to a narcissistic spouse.
You are not alone and you will get through this!
Lauren Cook-McKay is the Vice President of Marketing at DivorceAnswers.com. She holds a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) from the University of San Diego and applies her training in private practice to helping couples struggling in their marriage. She believes there is hope in all marriages and strives to provide therapy to couples that will lead them back towards a loving marriage, or an amicable divorce that brings peace and closure.