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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5809
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My spouse has narcissistic depressive tendencies. what do

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My spouse has narcissistic depressive tendencies. what do you suggest for coping with this? he is getting help for it so what I am looking for are ways to cope internally for me, and interpersonally with him.

Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

What kinds of behaviors does your husband have that bother you? How is his reactions to you and what you need? And does he seem to be helped by therapy?

Thank you,


Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The behavior that bothers me most is that when he gets upset, he is not able or willing to see my point of view or consider my feelings. His upset and feelings are VERY important and he demands that I understand them, agree with them, and agree to behave difference next time so those feelings don't happen again. He had a really rough past and feels like crap underneath, so whenever it gets triggered, he can barely handle it, and needs, demands, etc to be seen.

Therapy is helping him see how bad his past was and why he responds so extremely to a perceived loss of support or understanding from me. But there are very subtle ways that he demands I respond in particular ways to his emotions, claiming he is fragile, and really needs me to be a particular way.

His reactions to me and what I need vary but often it occurs as a burden, or unjustified, like I should feel some other way, or if my feelings don't jive with what he thinks i should be feeling, then there is coercion on his part to talk me out of it, or he gets triggered by it and then it becomes about his emotions.

I am in therapy too, and understand I have a co dependent tendency that makes this possible.
It is very hard to deal with a narcissist. Narcissism is a personality disorder which is a category of disorders that are difficult to treat with therapy, even if the person wants help like your husband. Everything about a narcissist is "me first". They lack empathy and only want to be involved in something that benefits them in some way. They do not hesitate to say or do hurtful things to someone else. When told about their behavior, they often find ways to make it the other persons fault or they just ignore the information. And as your husband has shown, he needs your focused attention and responses the way he wants them and not the way you can provide them. This puts a burden on you to be what he wants and not to get what you need. And the fact that he was so hurt in his past can make it hard to cope with his need to control you because you want to help but you also want what you need from him.

There are two ways you can address your husband. One way is to lower your expectations. Keep in mind that correcting his behavior or even just asking him to act in a certain way might cause him to react in a hostile way or another strong emotional reaction. You can react by praising him in such a way that you do get the response you want. For example, if you want him to do a certain task, tell him that you admire the way he does it. Appealing to a narcissists ego usually works. And you can also set limits with him. Complying only partly may not make him happy, but a simple response of "that is all I can do right now" might help.

Try to keep your emotions out of your dealings with him. Narcissists often provoke emotional reacts in others because their behavior is so offensive and hurtful. Training yourself to not react and to remain neutral can help. Develop a few non emotional responses you can provide to just about anything he says to you, especially when he tries to provoke you. "I'm sorry you feel that way. I am here for you but that is all I can do right now." is a good response to just about any comment. It leaves your feelings out of it, negates a reaction and keeps him from feeling offended.

Although you are in therapy (a very good step to take) and are working on how to cope with your husband's behavior, you can also learn more about narcissism through self help to help you find more ways to cope with your husband. Here are some resources that will help:

The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship in Work, Love, and Family by Eleanor D. Payson

Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed by Wendy T. Behary

The Object of My Affection Is in My Reflection: Coping with Narcissists by Rokelle Lerner

You can find these books on or your local library may have them for you.

I hope this has helped you,
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