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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5334
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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My husbands daughter is 38 y/o oppositional defiant,

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My husbands daughter is 38 y/o oppositional defiant, narcissist, who lands at least 3 bombshells every time she comes over. I repetetively welcome her and hope things will be different but after 20 years am very tired of the abuse. My husband excuses her behavior, she is his only child.
She dictates how we will celebrate MY birthday and this year we took a trip and said we would celebrate my b-day on my husbands b-day one week later. She gave us tickets to a play and announced she bought tickets to join us! We took the trip so we did not have to deal with the hassels she always causes. H E L P I do not want to go to the play but her dad will go and then she has really triangulated us

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

First, let me say it sounds like you've put up with a lot for a very long time. And it sounds like you've given in so many times now over these 20 years that your husband does not feel any need to try to back you up in the struggle with his daughter.

On the other hand, you understand that she's narcissistic. And narcissists do NOT give the people in their lives the opportunities to back each other up against her in any normal manner where they can tell her she's wrong this time and has to give in. For a narcissist, it's always victory or the world will end. So your husband is in a tough spot as she does not leave room for any maneuvering.

And this is actually the key to my answer to you that you need to consider and think about. Your question is really in essence how to help her become more normal. Because if she were more normal, then you could tell her she's being too manipulative and she'd get it; her father could tell her no and she'd understand. But you know from your years of experience that she will not accept help let alone be normal. Why not?

Because narcissists never believe the problem is in them. The problem is always in YOU. So if they ever seek help, it is only to get what they want. Then they stop coming to therapy once they've convinced the people who have forced them to that they have tried. And all the while, they keep doing what they believe they should be doing.

I'm concerned more about you. What do I mean?

Your goodness is not going to one day make her see the beauty of also being a good person. Narcissists don't change like that. It takes years and years of therapy and very few ever commit to that. And your husband doesn't know how to change that dynamic and you know that in the end it will be a choice of her or you. With narcissists it always is.

You're a good person and I can understand: you've invested a lot into this relationship and you may decide at this stage in your life that the stability of your life is worth more than the upheaval of change. I think these are the parameters for your making the decision. You love your husband. But to stay means accepting this dynamic for the rest of your life because it is not going to change. I'm so sorry that this is the nature of her illness.

To stay sane you have to accept that she has an illness. A real illness. And a serious one. And this is how that illness is tolerated by family members:

Step 1. You must accept that you cannot change her. 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 her life. Your job and your goal is to learn how to accept her the way she is and not be affected negatively by her. Yes, this is a tough, big job. But that is what she needs. You cannot be her therapist; you have to accept that this is how she deals with the world and that your job is to be there for her and with her without you getting too hurt by her personality difficulties.

Step 2. You can encourage her to seek professional help. Again, this will have to be only an encouragement. You know better than anyone that even encouraging her will probably not go over well with her, but that is the most you can do in that area. She has to be willing to go to therapy to help herself. No one else will ever be able to get her to stay in therapy and get benefit from it even if they convince her. The chances of her thinking this is a good idea are very slim. Therefore, you go back to Step 1.

Here are a couple of excellent books you can get on how to live with a narcissist.

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 being close with a narcissist will do to you.

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.

I wish you the very best in this difficult situation!

Please remember to click the green accept button because: even though you have made a deposit, I do not get paid for my time unless you press ACCEPT. Feel free to continue the discussion as my goal is to get you the best answer possible. You can continue the discussion even after pressing ACCEPT. 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, ***** *****

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for the books. Do I go along with her manipulation and do the play, in effect I enable her and cooperate with the game she and her mother Husbands ex wife(collaborate against me. When she gets in my face and shouts to me "Im entitled" how should I respond/ Tonight she told me she met one of my neighbors and they knew me and they had a really good conversation.... when I asked who of corse she didnt know. The mind games are endless, and I am continually bullied and victimized. I want to change how I respond to her, would like to tell her enough. Do I expose her in the midst of her stuff? Do I comment or ask her what her point is? She loves playing me for the idiot and now brings in my unknown neighbor? If I refuse to go to the play does that feed her narcissm and make me look bad? She is amazing how she can put me into such a double bind. What makes it worse is I am a therapist and my spouse is a psychologist and I have no idea how to deal with this destructive adult child
that you're a therapist and he's a psychologist makes this even more sensitive.

Because, you see, it's not just the dynamic between you and her we're dealing with. That would be easy in comparison, even though it's hard. That would be the narcissist relationship and you would simply leave. Because this is the typical conclusion of most relationships with narcissists.

But it's your husband that complicates this. Here's what I mean:

If you don't go to the play, you're making a statement in your mind to her. But in your husband's mind, you're making a statement to him. About your lack of solidarity with him. And she will make sure he gets that statement even if he wants to try to give you the benefit of the doubt and not feel hurt and betrayed.

He has to kowtow to her narcissism continually. And in his eyes you have the easier role because you aren't related and so just have to "pretend" and put up with. So you're in a double bind.

Any time you confront her with her narcissistic behavior, you will not only get her wrath poured on you, you will get her wrath poured on him and thus you will get his wrath as well. What to do?

Ignominy. You're a therapist. You have to swallow it. You take it. That's what living with a narcissist is about. You take it and glow in your knowledge that you at least are normal and taking it. She's got to live with herself 24/7.

But as my answer said, if you want to stay with your husband, you don't confront her, you minimize contact, and you swallow whatever is dished out and spit it out later somehow. That's the only way to live and that's really how you HAVE lived with her for this long.

I wish you the very best!

Please remember to click the green accept button because: even though you have made a deposit, I do not get paid for my time unless you press ACCEPT. Feel free to continue the discussion as my goal is to get you the best answer possible. You can continue the discussion even after pressing ACCEPT. 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, ***** *****

Dr. Mark and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for your wisdom, by that I mean you brought in the dynamic with my husband, not just the overt narcissist, and yes, my relationship with him is my focus, and her crazy making is so off the scale when she does come by that she would love to break up our 20 yr marriage, so the paradox is I reallly can win by loosing , at least I know what to work on and not allow her to split us. It allows me to focus on him and forget about the drama of the day with her. I like that you redirected me back to what goes on in his mind. She moved in our neighborhood five years ago, so you can imagine the havoc, but she needs to call b4 comming over, so she calls from her cell phone while standing at our front door ha ha, but the big picture is we see her less frequently and for less time. A less seasoned therapist may have missed the main issue and that is keeping our home fire burning in the positive sense. Thank you!!!
You are so welcome. I'm sorry I was away and couldn't respond before. I wish you the very best. Remember: narcissists fool themselves by thinking they're so clever. We can't necessarily stop them from causing pain (like a splinter causes pain), but we can at least be grateful we don't have to live every day trying to figure out ways to fool ourselves over and over and over. All the best, ***** *****