Narcissistic spouses are self-centered individuals who prioritize their own wants and needs over those of their partner, and who tend to be dismissive of their partner’s feelings or concerns. This lack of validation and emotional neglect can have a damaging effect on the non-narcissistic spouse’s mental health and overall well-being, so it is important to recognize the signs of narcissistic marriage problems.

Common narcissistic marriage problems

Narcissistic spouses need complete control

Narcissistic spouses have a strong desire for dominance and power. They work hard to present this false image of themselves to others, which leads to a need to maintain absolute control of their marriage relationship for fear of being found out and losing face.

Narcissistic spouses gaslight their partners

Narcissistic spouses try to keep their partners off balance so they can manipulate them and maintain dominance over them. Often they do this through gaslighting. Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation aimed at sowing self-doubt and confusion into their victim’s mind by distorting reality and getting them to question their memory, judgment, and/or intuition.

Narcissistic spouses are quite jealous

Narcissistic spouses tend to be extremely jealous of their partners. They can’t handle the thought of being overshadowed by them and will look for ways to minimize their achievements or point out flaws to draw attention away from their successes.

Narcissistic spouses are extremely suspicious

Narcissistic spouses have a fear of being rejected by their partner and tend to be highly suspicious of his or her friends or co-workers.

Narcissistic spouses compete with their partners

Narcissists view everything in life as a competition that they feel driven to win. If they think their spouse is becoming too successful or is being praised too highly, they will try to sabotage him or her in an effort to outshine them and bring them down.

How to cope

Get educated

The first step to dealing with narcissistic marriage problems is to understand what narcissism is and the ways it negatively impacts relationships.

Identify your strengths

A narcissistic spouse will try to belittle you so he or she can feel better about themself. Identifying your strengths reinforces your self-esteem and makes you better prepared to stand up for yourself.

Speak up for yourself

Use your voice to let your spouse know you can see through the lies and the games he or she is trying to play with your mind.

Set firm boundaries

A narcissistic spouse will try to persistently chip away at your boundaries in order to manipulate you into relying on him or her. Standing firm will get the message across that these efforts are not going to work, and may diminish their attempts to keep trying.

Deescalate the event if you are under attack

Arguing with a narcissistic spouse will only prolong the argument and provide him or her with more ammunition to throw at you. The best tactic is to rise above the provocation and remain silent.

Pray and seek God’s guidance

When you are in doubt about who you are, remember your identity in Christ and use God’s Word as an anchor of truth.

Maintain a healthy support system

A narcissistic spouse will try to isolate you and cut you off from friends and family to limit outside influences. Maintaining existing friendships and having a strong support network is important to your mental and emotional well-being.

Seek professional help

Therapy provides a safe space to express your concerns, explore behavior patterns, and learn techniques for coping with the challenges in your relationship.

If you would like to meet with one of the faith-based counselors in at San Diego Christian Counseling, please give us a call.


Ann Pietrangelo and Rachael Ajmera. “9 Tips for Dealing with Someone’s Narcissistic Personality Traits.” Healthline. Updated February 14, 2023.

“Snuggle”, Courtesy of Justin Follis,, CC0 License


Articles are intended for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice; the Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All opinions expressed by authors and quoted sources are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors, publishers or editorial boards of San Diego Christian Counseling. This website does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site. Reliance on any information provided by this website is solely at your own risk.