If you are in any kind of relationship with a narcissist, the risk of losing your power to emotional, mental and financial abuse is great. To learn more about how shame, silencing, fear and judgment fuel narcissism you may want to go back to my blogs What is the root cause of narcissism and what can you do about it, and How to stop narcissistic silencing so you can start listening. The point is not to shame anyone for being a narcissist or try to eradicate it as a “necessary evil” as that will just reinforce it, but rather to build awareness of how you manage your energy and the energy of those around you. All too often we end up losing so much more than we bargained for and become diminished as a result. In the context of marriage or a relationship with your significant other, narcissism can lead to devastating results- emotionally, mentally and financially.
Narcissistic abuse happens between partners when one of the partner takes more energy from the other than the other has to give. No one is to blame and it is everyone’s responsibility to manage their own energy- again, please stay away from shaming anyone- your partner or yourself. Because narcissists have so much unhealed shame, they believe that the only way they can increase their power is by taking it from others. They do not see that they have the ability to manage and grow their own power. As a result they play dirty: they can lie, make their opponent question their sanity, silence, belittle, discredit, isolate and triangulate to list some examples of tactics they use to empower themselves at someone else’s expense.
Who is at risk ?
If you are fully enmeshed in a narcissistic marriage, you and your partner are embroiled in tit for tat power struggles: your partner criticizes you, you criticize in return, she steals your money so you steal hers, she makes fun of you so you make fun of her, he has an affair so you have one….Society reinforces and even rewards this with the limiting beliefs and lies we tell ourselves: it’s ok to have an affair- everyone has them, I am entitled to more of our joint assets because I make more money than you, If I am paid more I am worth more, your contribution is less important than mine….
Close your eyes, connect to your breath and bring your awareness to how you engage in power struggles with your partner…
Narcissists need to feel needed
Because narcissists are so disconnected from their true nature, they need to feel important in relation to others. They will make others needy so that they are needed. As a consequence, they create dependency relationships with their partners, children, parents, employees, colleagues. Whenever there is any kind of dependence, the risk for abuse is great: dependence for money, security, friends, affection, status, recognition… As long as you associate these with your identity you will do whatever you can to amass more money, security, friends, affection, status, recognition… to ensure your survival.
Close your eyes, connect to your breath and ask yourself what you believe you absolutely need to survive in this world? Notice what comes up…Who would you be if you lost this? What would happen if you lost it?
Narcissistic abuse in marriage
Narcissistic relationships foster inequality where one partner is entitled to more of the resources than the other, competition where partners compete over their share of the available resources, division where partners seek to isolate the other with a divide and conquer mindset and control by controlling their domain of influence ie. money, children, home, friends…This inevitably leads to emotional, mental and financial abuse.
- Emotional Abuse: When there is a limiting belief that one partner’s needs are more important than the other’s so it’s ok to have affairs, isolate, reward and punish.
- Mental Abuse: When there is a limiting belief that one partner’s thoughts are more valid than the other’s so it’s ok to belittle and make fun of, engage in gossip, lies and triangulation.
- Financial Abuse: When there is a limiting belief that one partner is entitled to a larger portion of the financial resources so it’s ok to make unilateral financial decisions and not show transparency.
How to protect yourself
- Identify the pattern and take responsibility. If you are married to a full blown narcissistic you obviously attracted it in the first place and gave permission to the dynamic- you no longer need to perpetuate the pattern.
- Take charge of the situation Emotionally: Manage your emotions, go after your dreams and do what you love. Mentally: Regain power over your mind and thoughts. Seek professional help to discover your truth and establish your boundaries. Financially: Regain power over your finances by taking back half of your joint assets and building your own wealth. Get legal, accounting, as well as financial planning advice.
- Take action: Once you have established the presence of abuse, you are then well positioned to decide to stay and work at the relationship or cut ties. This all depends on whether you and your partner together decide to heal from narcissism. If one partner wishes to heal from narcissism and the other doesn’t it is impossible, in my opinion, to remain in loving partnership. If this is the case the one who wishes to heal from narcissism needs to unplug as quickly as possible. If neither wishes to heal, I believe you can work together to set new boundaries, find compromises, and continue to bargain and barter power to maintain a semblance of equilibrium. If both partners wish to heal, this to me is the perfect opportunity to help each other reach their greatest potential and may even be the reason why you were attracted to each other in the first place.
As you begin to connect to who you are and are looking for ways to manage your own energy without needing to take it away from someone else, your narcissistic tendencies will slowly melt away. You will then gravitate less and less to narcissistic people and will become more and more self sufficient. In turn, I believe the narcissistic institutions of old will be replaced by more caring government that cares for all its people, compassionate legal system that focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment, intelligent education that rewards learning rather than results and prestige, wise financial counsel that highlights equitable distribution and possibility for greater wealth for those who wish it, holistic health care that integrates body, mind and spirit. Learn more about how my principles of OTFG together with a daily yoga, meditation and mindfulness practice will help get you there so you can help others get there too.
Nicole Rolland is the author of “Stepping into Consciousness- A Guide to Living a Life of Joy, Meaning, and Abundance” .
You can visit her anytime at Nicole Rolland Yoga, Meditation, Mindfulness (NRYM) www.nicolerolland.com to learn more about her classes, programs, mindfulness coaching, as well as, her blogs, podcasts and other healing tips to help you experience and remember the wholeness and perfection you are.