Are you asking yourself how to live with a narcissistic partner?
We have been talking about concern for self and concern for others. In other words, self-focus and other focus. Any marriage is a yin and yang of this balance... Sometimes it tilts towards the other, then you focus on yourself, and back and forth. Looking from the outside, it is a good program for simultaneous growth of both partners.
What we are looking here at is an excessive focus on self from your narcissistic partner, and even when you expect reciprocity to kick in, it is not happening...and has not happened in a long time. Each time you protest that it is now your turn, and you needs some attention to your needs, the other has some catastrophic event that forces you, -again- to focus on helping him.
Now, we need to talk about the long process of improving this situation....It involves you, and your hard work, of curse. This narcissistic choice did not happen in a vacuum: for some reason you have selected a person whose whole center is himself...Is like signing up for voluntary servitude, and the process of releasing it begins with changing your own attitudes, basically taking personal responsibility for the situation.
First Step: What is your goal at this time? If your spouse is so self-centered that he ignores you, perhaps you want as a goal, to be able to have him/her perceiving what needs to be done to keep you happy. You need to focus now on your goal, be it to be treated with kindness, with fairness, or with more affection, this is your goal.
Second step: Look at your own dependency. In what areas do you depend from your spouse? Look at your daily life and decide which activities you can do independently. Do you have your own friends? Can you generate some of the money you need? Is there an issue you would like to learn, so you can search and find for educational opportunities?
The point of this step is to move you from the assumption that the relationship with this person is all you have, the sole source of your satisfaction, connection and love. We all need several sources of support and appreciation, so make a list of the areas where you have none. With this list, you can take some time addressing the basic questions:
Now that I know I need more of.........how can I achieve it? What are the steps I need to take to find my own solutions?
We know that living with a narcissistic partner can be a full time job, because there are endless demands on your time, your skills, your resources. Even then, there is more: you are used to have your life revolving around him, and that has become the "normal life" for you...
Surely, you have now conflicting feelings: you see clearly that you would be happier and healthier being more of your own person and not his/her satellite. And at the same time, you can be scared to death...so long time you have dedicated your energies to this relationship, that a slow stepping out of it and becoming more independent might look as a painful, scary proposition. I myself remember that I had to push myself to attend activities planned on purpose without him, because the fear was there: who was I without him? My brain would say automatically "nothing!" and I had to say: well, let me try if I can change that...Later it got easier....
And slowly, the effects on your partners' perception will make a dent. This person will watch you coming and going, engaged in different things that thrill you, and be at least curios about you. Mainly your determination to develop yourself has to generate some respect . Here you are, dedicating your time and energy to improve yourself, away from the endless and sterile nagging you used to do...has to generate curiosity and a very gentle change in the whole dynamics.
Next Step: Once you feel that you are in the path of re-building your own center, we will talk about addressing your partner from another more creative perspective. Watch out for the second posting!