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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5027
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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My husband is never wrong, has never apologized for anything

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My husband is never wrong, has never apologized for anything and constantly lets me know what I am not doing right. What are some strategies I can use to help stop this?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 3 years ago.

Hi, I believe I can be of help with this issue.

Trying to deal with someone who is very rigid in their opinions and beliefs, is extremely negative, dominating, and very opinionated is a tremendous challenge. When this is a husband, the situation can be very difficult for you emotionally.

The problem here is that you are dealing with a feature of a personality disorder. What are personality disorders? They are disorders that are the MOST difficult to treat and the most difficult for the person to change. Why is that? Because of the nature of our personalities. We don't change our personality easily. It is who we are in so many ways. Now, I'm not trying to tell you that your husband has a personality disorder. I am saying, however, that you are getting more and more troubled and frustrated as the marriage goes on. And this is because the behavior is not just an irritating behavior but is a FEATURE of who your husband is, a feature of what in its extreme case is a personality disorder.

Therefore, for you to be able to not get increasingly upset and frustrated and alienated as the years go on, you need to treat this problem he has as if it is LIKE a personality problem, a personality disorder.

So what can you do? Well, I am going to give you the program that has had success in my practice for loved ones of people with personality disorders.

You must accept that you cannot change him. This is the heart of the matter: what you see is what you are going to get for a long time (see step 2) if not for the rest of his life. Your job and your goal is to learn how to accept him the way he is and not be affected negatively by it. Yes, this is a tough, big job. But you cannot be his therapist; you have to accept that this is how he deals with the world and that your job is to be there for him and with him without you getting too hurt by his personality difficulties.

The personality disorder that your husband has features of is narcissism. Narcissists are the last people to seek help for themselves. Why? Because they never see the problem as being with THEM. They always see problems as being caused by the OTHER people in their lives. This is something I have seen in my practice all the way from when I was an intern! Again, I don't know and am not saying your husband has this disorder. But the rigidity and the constant criticism are features of it.

So, I'm going to prescribe a couple of excellent books you can get on how to live with a narcissist. Because you are not going to change him. What I wrote to you above is even more what you must stick with. But these books WILL help you as they have been tried and I've seen them have good effect if you follow the suggestions of the authors:

1. The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship by Eleanor Payson. This is a great book that will help you with the lack of self-esteem that living with a narcissist or someone who is like a narcissist will do to you. Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Wizard-Oz-Other-Narcissists-Relationship/dp/0972072837/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1284329075&sr=8-2

2. The Object of My Affection is in My Reflection: Coping with Narcissists by Rokelle Lerner. This book is newer but is extremely clear and insightful and has helped people since it came out 2 years ago. Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Object-My-Affection-Reflection-Narcissists/dp/075730768X/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1284329075&sr=8-5

So, that is your situation. Treating your situation as if it is similar to living with someone who is narcissistic will help you with some resources for how to not get increasingly frustrated in your marriage.

I wish you the very best!

Please remember to click the green accept button. Feel free to continue the discussion; my goal is to get you the best answers possible. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue, just put "for Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I asked for strategies not just book titles.
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 3 years ago.
Yes, I understand. You are hoping that you can do something and it will get him to see that what he is doing is not the right way to be. And I tried to gently tell you that never works. For the two reasons I stated: he doesn't see the problem as being in HIM. He sees only you as having problems. So, you have to accept this about him. That is the second part, you have to accept him as he is and learn how to live WITH his problem, not try to change it. Otherwise you will wind up unhappy, bitter, angry, and unable to stand being with him in a matter of time.

Because, you see, when you stand up to a bully and try to yell at him and tell him he's a bully, you just get him to call YOU a bully. So you try to find ways to not get him into a bullying situation. And you've done that so far and I'm encouraging you to keep doing it.

Here's one thing, though, you might do because it doesn't actively tell him the problem is with HIM, which he will not accept. Keep some of these books that I've recommended to you for how to make peace with yourself living with someone with a problem that won't go away casually in the living room and other places. One at a time, not all at once. See if he picks up on the titles. Hopefully he will ask you about why you're reading this.

You can then say that you are trying to learn how to live with someone who always thinks everything is the other person's fault. Period. No more than that. Don't lash out and say more. See if after a bit it sinks in with him. Try it then with the next book.

So you can see, this problem your husband has is not a little problem that you can fix with a strategy. It is an ingrained problem with him that you need to learn how to live with and hope that slowly he will be able to handle the thought that maybe he has something wrong he needs to take care of.

I wish you the very best!
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5027
Experience: Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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