Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a condition where someone views themselves as one of the most important people in the world. The entire earth revolves around them, so to speak.
You do not have to have NPD to exhibit frustrating or troublesome narcissistic qualities, such as lacking empathy for a spouse. Do you feel like you or your spouse may have a heightened view of themselves over others? Common symptoms of NPD include:
- An inflated sense of importance
- Severe envy
- A belief that they are superior to others
- Lying or exaggerating about talents or achievements
- Inability or unwillingness to have empathy for others
- Overreacting to criticism or perceived criticism
- Haughty behavior
- Preoccupation with thoughts of having money, success, beauty, or the perfect partner
- Depression, moody behavior
- May belittle, argue with, gaslight, or otherwise manipulate others to get what they want
It is usually hard for those with a narcissistic personality disorder (or narcissistic tendencies) to seek treatment because they likely do not sense that anything is wrong.
Since you’re reading this article, it’s likely that you yourself or your spouse is showing narcissistic personality traits that are disrupting the harmony in your relationship. If this is the case, here are 7 things you can do to banish narcissism from your relationship forever.
1. Create a “We” Mindset
Studies show that couples who use the term “we” instead of “I” (example, “We loved that movie!” instead of “I went to go see that movie last week and I loved it!”) had less negative emotional behaviors.
Viewing your spouse as your teammate and partner in life has actually been shown to create positive emotional behavior, raise marital satisfaction, and lower cardiovascular arousal.
Taking marriage courses or doing couple’s therapy can greatly increase your “we” vocabulary and help you draw closer to your spouse.
2. Learn the Art of Listening
If you feel that you are exhibiting some signs of NPD, just know that you can correct them and develop new, positive qualities.
When communicating, make sure to listen to what your partner has to say without interrupting them.
Part of listening also means giving your spouse your undivided attention when they are speaking to you. Studies show that 46.3% of participants felt they were being phone-snubbed by their partner. This can lead to depression and a severe decline in relationship satisfaction.
Show your partner that you care about what they are saying by muting the television or putting your phone down while they’re talking to you.
3. Develop a Deeper Connection to your Spouse
The more connected you are, the more desire you will have to please your partner and put their happiness before your own. Many couples take advantage of a weekly date night to build emotional and physical intimacy.
The report The Date Night Opportunity states that “One-on-one couple time appears to foster higher-quality and more stable marriages” and how “date nights should foster much-needed communication, mutual understanding, and a sense of communion between spouses or partners.”
If a weekly date night has not made its way to your calendar, consider doing so. It can help you connect to your partner on a deeper level and do away with selfish behaviors.
4. Identify Potential Triggers
One way you can banish narcissism from your relationship is by looking for potential triggers. What sets you off and causes you and your partner to argue?
Once you identify the triggers, delve into them. For example, if you are stubbornly clinging to a certain idea and refuse to back down, ask yourself why? Put your attitude in check. Are your priorities centered around fixing the problem at hand so that you can continue a peaceful relationship with your spouse or are you stubbornly clinging to getting your way?
Knowing your triggers and the reasons behind them can help you change your bad habits.
5. Take a Marriage Course
Millennials may take a lot of flack for their generational habits, but marriage is one aspect they’re moving in the right direction. Because of millennials waiting longer to get married and being more thorough about the partner they want, divorce rates have now lowered.
Furthermore, the State of Marriage Counseling Study found that, at 51%, millennials are more likely to take marriage courses than any other generation.
Marriage courses can help couples learn how to understand each other better.
Outside of traditional couple’s therapy, there are also online marriage courses you can take from the privacy of your own home. These classes will help you learn how to communicate, show empathy – which is a big problem for those dealing with NPD – and strengthening your marriage from the inside out.
6. Have a Regular Relationship Check-In
Self-examination is an important part of growth. It certainly isn’t fun to take a proverbial look in the mirror to see what could use adjusting, but regular self-examination can lead to a healthy mindset and positive behaviors.
You can practice self-examination by having a regular relationship check-in.
Choose one night a month (or every couple of weeks) where you check in with one another as a couple and talk about your relationship.
Commend each other for your positive qualities, but don’t shy away from making kind suggestions about how your relationship could improve in the future.
7. Work on Your Empathy
One sign of narcissistic tendencies is a lack of empathy for others. This is unfortunate since empathy is a true sign of a healthy relationship.
Having empathy means thinking beyond your own concerns and desires and recognizing other’s emotions and standpoints. It’s putting yourself in their shoes, so to speak.
Now all of us are born with empathy, but you can take steps to re-train your brain to sympathize with others.
When you’re in a discussion with your partner, try to put your own views aside and see things from their perspectives. Listen attentively and validate their perspective.
The more you try and understand your spouse, the more they will try and understand you in return. This will help build cooperation and teamwork in your relationship.
No matter which side of a narcissistic relationship you’re on, you’re bound to run into issues between you and your spouse. Banish narcissism from your relationship forever by learning to listen, creating a “we” mindset, and identifying potential triggers. Taking an online marriage course can also help strengthen your relationship against potential narcissistic problems.
About the author
Rachael Pace is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.