Help! My Spouse is a Narcissist!

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A person wearing a mask, looking at another mask in their hand. A narcissist who can only see their own version of reality.

Our divorce attorneys get a lot of calls these days from people looking to divorce their spouses because they’re narcissists. In some cases they’re correct. But not every person accused of being a narcissist is actually suffering from that particular personality disorder. Some of them are just unpleasant, angry or arrogant people whose spouses have spent years seeing the worst of their behaviors. So how can you tell if your spouse is really a narcissist? Let’s take a look at this complex subject…

What exactly is Narcissism?

Narcissism is a personality disorder. Although many people think that’s similar to a mood disorder, like Manic Depression, Bipolar Disorder, or Borderline Personality Disorder, that isn’t correct. While both of them are forms of mental illness, the key difference is the symptoms. Mood disorders are characterized by frequent and often extreme periods of emotional highs and/or lows, while personality disorders are characterized by rigid and unhealthy patterns of thinking, functioning and behaving, specifically in relation to other people.

What are the signs and symptoms of Narcissism?

Narcissism manifests in a range of behaviors and beliefs. A grandiose sense of self-importance (eg, the individual exaggerates achievements and talents and expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements.) This often includes preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love. Some people with narcissistic personality disorder suffer only mild symptoms, but at its most extreme, narcissistic people are calculating, manipulative, emotionally cold, cruel, easily angered, and in some cases, even dangerous! The common signs of narcissistic personality disorder include:

  • Extreme selfishness
  • A grandiose view of their own talents and abilities
  • A complete lack of compassion or empathy
  • An overwhelming need for admiration and praise from others

Not every arrogant, selfish person is a narcissist!

Human beings are flawed, and there is no greater time to view our failings than when we are unhappy, angry, or hurt. So it goes without saying that if your marriage is falling apart, your spouse isn’t going to be their best self. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a narcissist. There’s a difference between someone who’s perhaps overly vain or boastful, or selfish and calculating and someone who’s actually suffering from a personality disorder. And remember, only a trained professional can make a formal diagnosis.

Are you considering divorcing someone who may be a narcissist?

If you’re considering filing for divorce in Lansing, Ingham County, Eaton County, Jackson or Clinton County, call and talk to our skilled family law attorneys at our main office in Lansing. You can speak with one of our divorce / custody attorneys by calling (517) 886-1000. We have decades of experience handling contentious divorces and custody battles. Importantly, we understand the difficulties you and your child may have to face if your spouse is a narcissist, or suffers from any other type of personality disorder. We’ve spent decades helping local families with all of their family legal issues, no matter how complex or conflicted.