If you’ve married a narcissist or find yourself married to one, you may not have been aware of what you were in for or exactly how your partner might change after you married. So, how does a narcissist change after marriage?
Smart narcissists understand that they need to hide parts of themselves until you are fully committed to them; otherwise, there’s a chance that they could lose you.
They may not have shown you how it’s going to be after you have married them because it’s not advantageous for them to do so.
What is a narcissist?
There is no simple answer to this question, as the definition of a narcissist can vary significantly from person to person. However, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a narcissist is someone who displays traits such as an inflated sense of self-worth, a lack of empathy, and a grandiose view of their own importance and superiority.
Narcissists are often described as egotistical or arrogant, and they are often difficult to work with because they lack consideration and are sensitive to criticism.
A common misconception about narcissists is that they are all abusive and have no boundaries. While it is true that some narcissists are known to be abusive, it does not mean that all abusers are narcissists.
How narcissist change after marriage: 5 red flags to look out for
Check out these 5 red flags on how narcissists change after marriage:
1. Ego inflation
First, who does a narcissist marry? A narcissist marries someone who would be a good source of long-term narcissistic supply for them. They find a potential partner in someone weaker, less intelligent, or underconfident. So, why do narcissists marry?
Narcissists get married because they want someone to inflate their ego and be a permanent source of narcissistic supply. A narcissist getting married is likely only if it serves their purpose, like image boosting, a readily available audience, or money.
Though not all situations are alike, here are some examples of how a narcissist might change after marriage. (The extremity of the narcissism displayed will vary from person to person, and these effects may be tolerable, depending on the severity and the impact on the spouse.
2. Zero compassion and sensitivity
You will soon come to realize that one of the most significant ways a narcissist changes after marriage is in that they will reveal to you exactly how incapable they are of having and contributing to a healthy relationship.
Narcissism is a personality disorder that involves a lack of empathy for the thoughts and feelings of others. If there is no empathy, there will be no sensitivity or compassion toward your needs.
Even if you have been fooled before marriage, this trait will be impossible to disguise with the narcissist after marriage and will form the basis of your relationship.
3. Your spouse will define the marriage
You might think you define the terms of your relationship before marriage and may have been allowed to believe that because it served the narcissistic partner’s end game.
This mirage, of sorts, is another significant example of how a narcissist changes after marriage because your thoughts, feelings, and needs are irrelevant to someone with this condition.
It is highly likely that in a marriage to a narcissist, your spouse will define the terms he or she will display double standards. Our needs will not be acknowledged as important unless there’s a benefit to your spouse, too.
Can a narcissist change in a way that makes you feel that you have lost any say in a marriage? Yes, your spouse may start to demonstrate a lack of willingness to cooperate or compromise with you, and this can have significant negative consequences for your self-worth.
4. You’ll never win or resolve an argument
And if you do, then it’s because there’s something in it for your spouse.
This is another example of how a narcissist changes after marriage. Prior to marriage, they may have seemed to submit occasionally, perhaps even apologize, but that’s because then, you were not theirs entirely, and they were still concerned over how they look to you and your family and friends as a matter of priority.
But the fact remains that someone with narcissism will rarely sincerely apologize, lose an argument or resolve a conflict.
So, how does a narcissist change after marriage? They have no desire to uphold their marriage vows. They are in the relationship to have their needs met, and not for love.
In extreme cases, you are not important anymore because he/she doesn’t need to impress you. After you have made the ultimate commitment to them, there’s nothing more to gain (in their eyes).
5. You might never enjoy a birthday or celebration again
On your birthday, the focus should be on you.
However, your narcissistic spouse may set out to sabotage your celebrations and turn the attention back to them. This may mean tantrums, dashed plans, and even cancellations with your friends and family, thanks to your spouse. So, can a narcissist change after marriage? Often for the worse.
6. You will find yourself walking on eggshells
Now your narcissistic spouse is in the driver’s seat of your relationship and marriage, which can feel disheartening and leave you disempowered.
A severe narcissist may make you pay if you:
Express your expectations, needs, and desires to them,
Have too much fun away from them,
Try to prove a point or win an argument,
Don’t allow him to project his emotions on you.
You’ll experience the silent treatment at best if you ever try to say no to them or call them out for their gaslighting or happiness-sabotaging behavior.
Some people who marry a narcissist end up walking on eggshells even when the spouse isn’t around.
Often this is because the person with narcissism has conditioned their spouse to do so. While you may need to walk on eggshells to have any kind of peace, this behavior will empower and encourage him to continue with this pattern.
If you find yourself in this situation, and you can relate to these examples of how a narcissist changes after marriage, then it’s time to get out.
Finding yourself walking on eggshells might be a helpful indicator and possibly a really good “red flag” that a relationship isn’t heading in a healthy direction. Know more about it here:
How does a narcissist view marriage?
According to The Myth of the Self by Ronald Laing, a narcissist cannot form meaningful relationships because they have a fundamental mistrust of others that stems from early childhood experiences.
As a result, they tend to believe that they cannot depend on the people around them and therefore need to be “self-made” individuals.
They believe that if they work hard to prove their worth to others, they will be rewarded with attention and acceptance.
When it comes to marriage, narcissists often view it as a game where two people try to outdo each other in order to gain the admiration of others.
For this reason, they are more focused on winning than on building and maintaining a healthy relationship. They will often play the role of the victim to make themselves appear weak and helpless, which makes them appear more attractive to their partners.
Can a narcissist have a happy marriage?
Some people assume that a narcissist can’t have a healthy relationship with a partner because their needs always come first.
While it is true that narcissists are selfish, not all selfish people are narcissists. There are many people who choose to be selfish out of their free will, whereas narcissists are usually unable to control their behavior. Because of this, they are more likely to have unhealthy relationships with others.
When a narcissist decides to marry their partner, it is because they are seeking validation and approval from them in an effort to boost their self-esteem. However, once the couple gets married, they begin to exploit the other person in an attempt to maintain control.
This can result in an unhappy marriage, as both parties will be left feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled. However, it is possible to find happiness in a narcissistic relationship as long as you recognize the warning signs before it’s too late.
Can a narcissist change for love?
Although they have the potential to change, most narcissists do not genuinely care enough about their relationships to want to improve them once they are established. A narcissist might pretend to change after marriage.
As a result, they are often not interested in making the necessary sacrifices necessary to make the relationship work.
Furthermore, they often lack the motivation necessary to make a change because they do not believe they are capable of it. This is especially true when they are confronted with feelings of failure or inadequacy.
Sometimes narcissists do want to evolve and grow as a person, but they tend to sabotage their own efforts in order to safeguard their existing ego structure. This is because they do not believe that they can survive if they begin to lose their identity.
Although evolution is possible for a narcissist, it often requires outside intervention by a professional therapist.
How to help a narcissist change?
The bitter pill of truth is that don’t even bother trying to fix your relationship with them by talking to them or by encouraging them to attend couples marriage therapy or counseling. You don’t have marriage problems; you have bigger problems.
So, can a narcissist change after marriage? How to deal with a narcissistic spouse? If you are married to a narcissist, you married somebody who cannot change no matter how much you want them to.
You are right on the frontline of a potentially dangerous situation that, at the very least, will disempower you and cause you to question your sanity.
At worse, this situation could lead to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and physical health problems. Consider confiding in a counselor to talk about your thoughts and feelings in a safe place.
If you decide to end the relationship, create a plan and get support to help you along the way. You can heal from a marriage to a narcissist, and learning more about the condition and how to protect yourself is a great first step.
Undeniably, it’s hard to be in a relationship with a narcissist. They can turn the entire course of the relationship or marriage without giving a thought about how the other person is feeling. Everything is solely about them.
However, a narcissist can change after marriage, and with the right approach and learning the effective ways to deal with it, you can make your bond with your narcissistic partner happy and healthy.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.