Is a lying cheating spouse really the incurable disorder a few professionals insist it to be?
The symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder are hard to tackle and extremely resistant to influence, but does this really make the heartache a puzzle that cannot be solved?
“Looking back honestly on my life I can say now without a doubt that I was narcissistic in my first marriage and codependent in my second (and I have seen many marriages follow this same pattern) and so from my own personal experience I know that these symptoms can change.”
It seems when we feel guilt about our behavior in a failed relationship, in the next we will sometimes swap roles.
So although it took me losing my first husband to wake up to myself, in the end my behavior did change. Sadly however this change was not into something healthy – just a different role in the same angry dance.
I want to help you create that change without staying stuck or flipping between unhealthy roles – so today I have some very simple advice. Because if your partner lies, cheats and is heartless, there is something you can do:
Very simply, you need to stop giving your power away and stop thinking you need to play fair.
A leader should be responsible for the well being of everyone they are leading and take that responsibility seriously – otherwise they do not have the right to remain in charge.
Once upon a time I would beg and complain, acting as if all of my happiness lay firmly in Steve’s hands. I would confront him and try and convince him – waiting to see the change I longed for; when he would start giving me all the love that I craved from him and then I was sure that everything would be okay.
This never worked for me and if you give a heartless and irresponsible marriage partner that much power, it is not going to work for you either.
One of the first things I recommend when people first start learning the steps in our program is to self soothe. This is vital but sometimes I find people get the wrong idea about this and so today I will explain a bit more.
Self soothing is about learning to calm down and not get drawn into arguments or fights in the heat of the moment — which will obviously help bring calm to your household — but this is not where the steps in our program end.
Many people feel a lot of guilt about getting angry and when I suggest they learn to self soothe, they think that I am suggesting that getting angry is wrong or bad and if they learn to stop doing this they will then be rewarded with love from their partner for being good.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
The reason we teach Self Soothing is because getting drawn into arguments gives your power away and won’t ever create the change you desire. It is not that getting angry is bad, quite simply it doesn’t work and will usually weaken your position.
Learning to stay calm is the first step and the real steps you will need to take can only begin after that.
The truth is if your partner has symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder you need to take the power back in your relationship and you need to take charge. Make a plan and make the decisions about what is going to happen and stop waiting for their permission. If you have all of your families interests at heart, and they don’t, it is time you planned a coup to take the position of leadership in your family firmly into your own hands.
Will they like it? No – at first they will probably fight you like a tiger and that is why you need to be prepared.
Will they know how to play by your new rules? No – and so it is important that you don’t expect too much of them at first and that you use the gap finder (in our Love Safety Net Workbook) to decide where it is sensible for you to start.
Will this be easy for you? No – at first you will probably be terrified and so far out of your comfort zone that you will feel like everything you are doing is wrong.
Because if you grew up with codependent tendencies you will probably feel very guilty about taking over and taking charge. Before I took charge in our household Steve used to accuse me of being too dominating and I bought that line for 10 years. Luckily one day I finally saw the truth, which was that in reality I had been a complete pushover to his exploits and lies.
Will the rewards be worth it? – Certainly! Because if you leave a person with narcissistic tendencies at the helm there is no place the ship can go but down.
Are you up to playing captain and staging this take-over successfully? Perhaps only time will tell, but what other choice do you have and who is going to take the lead if it is not you!
Will your partner come to love and respect you? – There is a good chance that they will, but that will come further down the track and shouldn’t be your short term goal. Whether they do or not, hopefully with our help and guidance you will be sailing on calmer seas by then and you will have a lot more choices about where you can take your life next.
Can this approach cure people of Narcissistic Personality Disorder? – In our experience and the experience of hundreds or people who have shared their stories with us, yes it certainly can!
Now I know you might be wishing there was an easier answer – but growing up can be tough and in reality growing up is what this is all about.
It was a very sad day for me when I realized prince charming was never going to come for me and that all the things I wanted from him were things I was going to need to take responsibility for making happen myself and even fight Steve to make happen.
Change like this is never easy — but hopefully, with our help you can help even out the power balance and watch your partner become more responsible so that, like us, the leadership in your family can one day become a role you can both share.
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