Dear Annie: While reading the letter from the “Parent Who Does Not Want to Get Divorced,” the way she was describing her husband sounded very much like he might have narcissistic tendencies.
My husband is a narcissist, and the worst thing you can do is go to marriage counseling. I know that sounds crazy, but very few counselors know how to handle narcissism, and because of this, counseling will often only make things worse.
Therapists always approach counseling with the belief that they’re dealing with two people who both want to work together and find resolution. However, with a narcissist, their only concern is their image and being right, not in finding common ground to grow from, which makes progress next to impossible.
And honestly, in my experience, they will usually twist everything during the counseling sessions to make the other spouse the bad guy, which only makes you feel more crazy. I’ve found far greater success keeping myself in individual counseling so I can be the healthiest version of me, which then changes how I respond and react to my husband. That is the only way I have ever seen true and sustainable changes in our marriage, and it’s the only thing that’s helped me keep my sanity.
— Went at It Alone
Dear At it Alone: Congratulations on taking the first step toward a healthy relationship and seeking counseling for yourself. But don’t give up on marriage counseling. A well-trained therapist will be able to see your husband’s narcissism and help him, and you, soften it. Your husband might end up in counseling by himself as well.
Remember, the goal is not to stay in therapy forever; the goal is for you to understand what you need (you are doing that with your individual therapist), for him to understand what he needs (hopefully he will see someone himself) and for the two of you as a couple to talk through what your relationship needs to flourish. Your willingness to look at yourself is great. From that place, you can help your husband get into counseling.
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