What Are the Signs of a Narcissistic Wife?

A controlling partner may become angry or defensive if you say you have a problem with the relationship.
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  • Written By: Henry Gaudet
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 14 April 2014
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A narcissistic wife is one who typically will engage in manipulative, intimidating and demeaning tactics to assert control over her husband. Common behaviors include near-constant criticism and blame, disregard for the opinions and emotions of her spouse, contradiction of stated positions and empirical facts, and sudden outbursts of temper. The husband of a narcissistic wife is often, as a result, on edge, attempting to avoid actions and statements which might cause another outburst.

Narcissistic personality disorder is a personality disorder characterized by a need for praise and recognition and an overinflated sense of self-worth and importance. These feelings exceed healthy self confidence, making others seem less important than they are, but this inflated self-image is highly fragile. Constant praise and approval is sought, and any criticism is likely to be met with hostility.

Raising self-worth by devaluing the worth of others is one way narcissists maintain this high opinion. Usually, the people closest are targeted, and a narcissistic wife is likely to belittle her husband. Criticism of the husband’s abilities, opinions and values elevate her position in the household, making her the knowledgeable authority and best decision maker in her own eyes. Over time, the husband may believe her and come to the same conclusion as well.


Another common trait of the narcissistic wife is the need for a sense of control. She is likely to make “executive decisions,” expecting the family to accept her plans without discussion. When she does consult with her husband, she is typically looking for approval, not an honest assessment. Criticism and disagreement are not welcome.

Challenge to that control can be reduced by attempting to reduce the influence of others. A narcissistic wife may try to limit her husband’s contact with people likely to contradict her or sympathize with his opinions. The husband may avoid speaking with family and friends to prevent fights at home.

Manipulation and deception are also frequently used to maintain this control. Blatant lies, contradicting her own statements or observable facts, are also often used. If challenged, she will defend her position, calling the other party wrong, lying, or deranged.

The presence of a narcissistic wife can also be observed in the behavior of the husband. Living with narcissistic personality disorder is extremely stressful, and the husband is likely to be suffering from symptoms of chronic stress that may include frequent headache, nausea, or insomnia. He is likely to censor his own thoughts and behavior in an attempt to “keep the peace.” With his self-image under constant assault, he may also exhibit signs of depression or paranoia.


Discuss this Article

Post 20

Boy! I can relate to all your stores here! I was married for 19 years and I always knew from the start there was a miss with my wife but I could never put my finger on it. After reflecting back, there were plenty of red flags in the beginning, but I somehow always dismissed her behavior for many reasons and found myself always looking at myself as what I did wrong or how to make it better. Was that ever a huge mistake, and it cost me over the years in so many different ways from emotional abuse to parental alienation with our kids and chronic stress.

My story is one right out of a horror movie that repeats itself over and over and it’s truly like living in hell. When I first met my wife 19 years ago, I thought she was the greatest thing since sliced bread and I fell for her head over heels and thought how lucky I was to find someone like her. But this is what narcissistic women do to lure their prey in. In the beginning, they will play the victim all the time because it makes them look vulnerable. We men are suckers for women we can protect and that is often the way they reel men in. It’s a clear form of manipulation, and make no mistake, they are masters at it too!

Narcissistic women who are master manipulators are also very skilled liars as well. Part of the reason manipulative woman often get away with lying is because they have enough charm and allure to wind men around their little fingers. They will always have a quick excuse to hand you. This was always a common issue with my wife. If you challenge a narcissistic woman, she will defend her ground at all cost, and then will turn the tables back on you and start blaming you to avoid accountability. You will never win the battle, no matter how hard you try!

My wife always gave me rational explanations for her irrational behavior and expected me to accept her reasoning and if I didn’t, there was hell to pay, from her avoiding me, walking away from a conversation that was unfinished, to bad mouthing me to my kids or defaming me to her co-workers or family or for that fact, anyone who would listen.

I completely agree with a couple of the comments that other people have made on here, especially the one about how they have no empathy at all! And the other one: as they age they become worse and the behavior increases and it seems they become more out of control. Just like the other comments on here, if you are living or come in contact with a woman who has narcissistic behaviors. Run! Run as far as you can and as fast as you can!

My story is extremely sad because I have a 16 year daughter who is growing up to be just like her mother and my heart goes out to her because it’s not her fault and she will have major challenges in her own relationship(s). I struggle every day to have a relationship with my daughter, but my daughter just doesn’t really want to have anything to do with me. I text her every day but it’s only a parrot response back. My wife has completely destroyed our family on so many levels and it breaks my heart how this person doesn’t have an ounce of empathy for any of us and she is completely selfish and it’s all about her.

Post 19

My son married a narcissist and five months later, had to be hospitalized because of the stress and anxiety. We knew she had big problems and hoped against hope they wouldn't get married, but she is beautiful and very manipulative and deceptive. A therapist told me to watch the movie "Gaslight" with Ingrid Bergman as an example of the type of psychological manipulation that goes on. They make you think you are the crazy one. We are praying he will get some insight and strength to get out before the rest of his life is ruined.

Post 18

I have known that there is something that has irked me about my relationship for many years. Not until finding this topic somewhat by chance, did I finally put my finger on it. My wife, and the mother of my 11 year old twins, is an overly narcissistic person. Now that I see it, I know the signs were always there, but I misinterpreted them as something else.

Her feeling superior to me because she was older, or made more money, or had a good job, or had higher profile friends or whatever she thought that she could see me eventually fitting in to be -- with a little manipulation.

Because I pride myself on being independent and the kind of person who believes that I am in control of my emotions and my own situation, and mostly because I like and trust myself, I always take the responsibility to fix things in my life, and of course, that goes for my relationship too. I believed that was the same thing that I thought I liked about my wife -- at first.

When my wife met me, I had no money to my name. She had worked her adult life and had dated on and off for most of that time (She was 36 at the time and I was 30) . However, I found out some time later, that she never had a relationship for more than a year and it always seemed to be the guy’s fault. Now my wife was social chairman of her sorority and had twice tried out for the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders and made it through the first round once. So for her to not find anyone to stay with, and particularly never admitting that she ever was the problem, should have been a big red flag.

Unfortunately, I ignored that early sign of challenged relationship material and a propensity to blame others from the beginning, thinking that she had just not met a relationship material guy like me. I was 30 at the time and had been with my previous girlfriend and wife for over seven years (No kids) and I learned a lot about how a long term relationship could work and I thought I could offer that to her.

We fell in love and had a storybook romance and I was impressed with her financial freedom, her career, and her strong confident personality, bedside manner, etc. Little did I know, that she was a house of cards waiting to tumble.

After dating exclusively for about a year, she gave me an ultimatum by saying that she wanted to settle down in the suburbs and buy a house so I needed to choose between living with her in the burbs or staying in the city. When I told her that I would live with her, she said that I could only do that if I was going to marry her. She told me she liked having me around as someone she could play with (vacations, exercise, dining out, movies, etc.) I admit that I had the choice to make and because I am a romantic and she fell in love with me when I had nothing, I decided that I could be happy just about anywhere with her. Shortly thereafter I proposed.

Prior to the kids, my wife was able to keep a certain charm about her teasing me about being footloose and fancy free. Slowly, she kept hinting that I needed to get serious about my career and contribute half of the bills. Over the next few years, I did start to do just that and began to be quite successful, turning the tables on the financial situation as she lost her job and was having difficulty finding another one. Little did I know her master plan was to have me be that sole bread winner in due time.

Her hints became expectations shortly thereafter as we tried harder and harder to have kids. She even had one of her good friends tell me that she and my wife thought it was time that I take over the majority of the income earning. At that time, I told her that if I did this, things would change dramatically as I would not be the same person she married with the added pressure of being the sole provider. She said she could handle it.

She did finally get another job, but I started to notice her professional confidence was starting to wear thin and she eventually lost the job. In addition, all her professional fun loving city friends stopped calling her and she slowly started to become this homebody, alienated from the world outside that I had never known before.

After we had our twins, she took about a year off and I was left to make up for her lack of income and produce an equal or higher amount on my own. Coincidentally, the economy was at a peak and I was able to pull down a sufficient amount to keep her secure for the next five years and I even was able to do it from the comfort of our home where I thoroughly enjoyed spending a lot of time with our twins.

I will say that she did try to go back to work when the kids were about two. She studied for several courses and took a job based largely on her performance. Without going into too much detail, I will just say that she had a lot of excuses that kept her from being successful. No small part of this was her constant issue with her increasing age and the fact that she wanted to be with the kids.

That part about the kids is fine with a narcissist when the kids are little and rely completely on your every whim. However, as soon as they start to have a mind and question your decisions, that’s when a narcissist loses it. That goes for the husband too.

Slowly she became more and more dissatisfied with my wage earning abilities and blamed me for the rising debt and anything else that she could not take blame for, which is becoming just about everything now. She acts as if she is helpless and too old to do anything. She rarely exercises, she has gained about 50 percent more body weight than when were dating, her health is deteriorating and it’s all my fault.

If I don’t have money, its my fault. If I do have money, I spend it on things she does not approve of. She has recently inherited hundreds thousands of dollars and stands to inherit much more, but none of it can help with the bills I have paid for the past 10 years, because she needs to have it for “our” retirement -- really, her retirement.

Even still, she berates me about paying interest and how I do the taxes, and how I treat the kids, and you name it. Meanwhile she rarely asks me how I am doing, she has probably said she is sorry three times in the 20 years we have been together (to my thousands) and she has never said she loved me before I say it first. She never initiates intimacy and the kids admit that she never takes them out just to have fun on their account. She will not seek counseling because she believes that there is no solution to our problems (and I am starting to believe her), And on and on, all pointing to exactly how you have described narcissism.

Thanks for listening and I hope some of this helps others as the articles I have read have helped me realize that I am not alone.

Post 17

I had never heard of a narcissist before reading this article but I have been married to one for 18 years and I now know what was happening all those years.

I am afraid of her. She is also one of God's favorite people and he will punish anyone who messes with her. All of the things people are saying on this post are the absolute truth. I have been made to feel like I should have never been born and can do nothing right. She says my son by my ex is not my son and has tried to prove it many, many, many, times.

I have a one year old granddaughter and she gets very upset if I see her and I have only seen her four times since her birth. She said going by to see my granddaughter is the same as cheating.

My life is a living hell. She hates anyone I care about and doesn't want me to have anything to do with them. She says all they want is money and don't care anything about me. She is 17 years younger than me and called me an old wrinkled up man. Now I am ashamed to go out with her or be with her.

She has torn my man hood down saying I have nothing to work with. She says I am gay, etc. I have a counselor, but she really just listens to me and writes stuff down. I am seeing her for depression. Thanks for this article. It is very enlightening.

Post 16

I'm currently married to a narcissistic woman. I feel broken and confused every day because she always reminds me of why I feel sorry for myself for continuing to stay with her.

We have two kids, one of whom isn't mine. I'm 31 and I've seen eight years of my life gone down the toilet. There is absolutely no reasoning with this woman whatsoever. Because of her, I'm am more turned off and uninterested in women now than I've ever been in the past few years. She is a perfect example of what a narcissist is.

Post 15

I am an adult daughter of a narcissistic mother and I can clearly see the traits of how she dealt with my dad through my memory of their relationship. I am probably not even aware of half of the goings on!

She would talk down to him in public, give him the silent treatment in the house, make decisions without him and expect him to step in line, and worst of all, she prevented his mother from coming from overseas to visit.

They were married for 20 years and throughout that time, my dad pandered to her every whim, careful to not upset her in any way as he knew what would happen. They have been separated and divorced now for over 10 years and although my dad has cut her off (he didn't get anything out of the divorce), she will still try to manipulate him and control his decisions. It is so sad.

Post 14

I am at my wits' end. After 26 years of marriage, my wife calls me the victim. She says that's what I act like. I tell her to stop putting me in a position to constantly defend myself over nothing. She says I have an inferiority complex. I say(to myself) she has a superiority complex! When things get bad and I pull back and she feels as though I am going to leave, she starts to treat me nicely. That is her way to apologize for whatever it is that she said or did to me. Yet I am left raw and hurt and I have to decide to show affection or risk her flipping into a bad mood. When all is going well with us, and I feel happy and have some hope that she is getting better, something goes wrong and she throws it in my face that she has been nice to me as though that was an extraordinary behavior instead of something normal.

For her, it is an effort to maintain a normal agreeable persona with me. She is a beautiful woman, and her looks are constantly complimented by family and the public and by me, yet I am told I don't tell her enough how beautiful she is.

She is hardworking, driven, lives by a schedule and everyone else has to revolve around it and her needs. She gets a lot done but only what is a priority in her world. I am an imposition on her. She claims to love me but hates me. She always has a counterpoint to my every opinion and position, yet she is insatiable for me sexually. But I hardly have an interest in her because she beats me down mentally day in and day out. Here I am, so attracted to her, and in my sadness I have lost my lust for her.

She is the love of my life. My heart aches because I always have loved her and not her behavior towards me. I have forgiven her, made excuses for her, taken the blame in arguments in an effort to make up. And our children now almost all grown have had to see this all unfold while she beat me down, when I broke down at times, couldn't understand our good times after all the hurt.

I nurtured our kids emotionally, and did my best to help them understand that their mom loves them dearly; she just doesn't have control over her behavior when she is irrational or over the top with me or them. She fits the profile completely as described. It scares the hell out of me that her condition does not have any posts on any hope for it to get better.

Is there anything I can do? I am looking forward to the future: empty nest freedom, being grandparents down the road, big family gatherings and holidays growing old and experiencing authentic happiness. I want to do that with my wife, not alone. Big question: what does a narcissist do when they are confronted with this diagnosis? I just don't know what to do. I don't want to ruin her publicly; she is fondly thought of in the public, and I don't want others to think poorly of her.

Putting aside how she treats me at times, she is a good person, and I am proud of her as a person. I have learned to compartmentalize the bad times from the good, for whatever it is worth. Give me something to go on here.

Post 13

Ugh. After nearly 20 years of unhappy marriage, I just realized I'm married to a narcissistic wife. Over the past year or so, I've really started to recognize the damage this is doing to our kids as well.

I suffer from anxiety and depression (which I think predates my wife, but my relationship certainly exacerbates it). I've spent years trying to work out my problems, but this article describes my wife to a T.

Post 11

I am a mother of a son with a narcissistic wife. She has alienated my son from his family by causing conflict between one of my other daughters-in-law and expecting me and my husband to agree with her. She has told us what she thought we should do, but we disagreed and now she (for the second time) has denied us seeing our grandchildren. They have two children (one girl, age 2, and one boy, age seven and a half months old). We have not even met the grandson and we only live 30 minutes away. My son goes along with her, I feel, just to keep peace in his family.

They have sought counseling in order to learn to talk to one another without arguing, but I'm not sure how much that has helped. We found out through one friend of his that he confides in at his work she has gotten angry and told him he is a bad dad and husband, not to mention many other things. It saddens me to see all of this turmoil and control she has over him. There is no arguing with her because she knows everything and turns it around to sound like it's the other person's fault.

He had so many warnings, ignored all of them and married her anyway. My husband and I decided to let it go and just keep in contact with our son, whether we see her and the kids or not. She will never allow us to have a real relationship with the children like it should be. It's her way or nothing. He is the only one working and she takes care of the bills and even he has said that she stated that she feels she wears the pants in the family.

He is a good-hearted guy and she saw that and took advantage of him. She demeans him every chance she gets or demeans us and justifies it to him as if we are the ones in the wrong. We will be there for him if and when he finally has enough. She is extremely controlling, selfish and self-centered and has no problem telling other people where to get off. She even told me before all this mess started that she doesn't really like people, which is interesting to me since she is trying to get into the health care profession. (Don't want her as my nurse.) I really feel for my son and the children and for the other individuals who have encountered narcissistic women in their lives.

Post 10

I was happily married for 12 years now and we have one daughter, age 9. I am a finance professional and working in a company at the highest finance post.

Everything was good up until the last couple of years, by the grace of God and then came a dangerous turn. A girl joined my company and I had to give her a ride to the office a few times a week.

I don't know what went wrong but suddenly my wife started doubting me. She used to spy on me through some neighbors and some other means and started useless arguments at home. I found that a few of my relatives and her friends are behind all this.

I tried talking to her, but nothing seems working and now my house is like hell! She has made my life so painful that I don't even like to step in my house. I don't know what to do and sometimes I feel like killing myself.

Post 9

I have 20 years of hell behind me. I think I'm going crazy. That's why I started to search and got to this blog. You'd fall on your back if I told you my story. That's all I can say about that. And I'm really glad that I found out I'm not the crazy one.

Post 8

My experience was exactly like the books say. It might help to realize this person really is very close, technically, to a psychopath - look it up! Carefully plan your exit after her first blatant display of the lack of empathy (I'm sure I don't need to explain "carefully".)

I'm sure there have been many such displays or you wouldn't be reading this. This trait alone should discredit any excuses you may make for her. Any benefits-of-the-doubt you give her will inevitably be used against you. Her "good side", like all the rest, is only manipulation. Without empathy, what else could it be? It's all she will ever know.

Imagine the increased beatings your soul will endure when her aging begins to take it's toll on her "perfection". You are only a source of narcissistic supply. If you remain on good terms after the split, she will only try to use you for supply again. Know that she has been planning for the end from the very beginning, planting seeds to suggest you are the villain and she the victim. There have been subtle, manipulative hints, repeated casually all along to others. The longer you stick around, the more subconscious damage will need to be worked out when it's over.

If you have young children or property, find a lawyer who understands the situation, as she will surely manipulate hers. Do your best to run for your life and don't look back. You deserve much, much better, despite the opinion her conditioning might suggest, and most likely know, deep down in your heart of hearts, that this really is true. Good luck!

Post 7

Is it usual for a narcissistic person to turn a son against his father or make it seem like his father is the cause for all of his life's problems and make it so he doesn't talk to his father anymore?

Post 6

I was married 18 years and I feel I wasted so much of my life thinking it would get better. I finally got out when I saw how she affected my kids. I decided I could give them a place to relax instead of walking on egg shells all the time.

I got 50/50 joint custody and trying to deal with being undermined, her lies, etc. It's just awful. I don't know what I did to deserve this but with three kids, I do the best I can. I feel bad for my kids because they can't help but be negatively impacted. It's very hard to tell somebody what is going on because it is so absurd.

I grew up in a very stable environment and it's hard to deal with mental illness. It's nice to know I'm not alone.

Post 5

It is my understanding that narcissistic behaviors tend to increase with age. My wife and I married when we were very young. I was 18 and she was 17. She was pregnant at the time, or I would not have agreed to marry her. I knew that there were behavioral issues but I thought it was the result of her upbringing. She was spoiled and had a very antagonistic relationship with her mother. Of course, in her mind, it was all her mother’s fault and I will say that her mother’s lack of a true relationship with her may have been a contributing factor to her narcissism. In fact, her mother may very well be a narcissist herself -- just not to the same degree.

I thought at the time we married that she would grow out of the behavioral issues because it was just the fact the she was spoiled and immature. We have been married for over 30 years now and the behavioral issues not only haven’t changed but have gotten much, much worse. I stuck it out for the children. We have two who are now grown and on their own. I have no regrets there because I could not bring myself to leave them to battle her on their own. The narcissism had a very negative effect on them and I acted as a buffer to try and keep them on track. They are wonderful children and both have great jobs. We get along great and communicate almost on a daily basis. They tolerate their Mom and try to avoid her as much as possible. I do take pride in the fact that I got them through it with minimal emotional scars.

Why I stick around is really mind boggling, even to me. I am very thick skinned and her constant barrage of criticism and accusations of ulterior motives for most everything I do is just like water off a duck’s back. The one thing that I do regret is that I have no real relationship with her at all. Not emotional or physical. It is impossible to have an emotional relationship with a narcissist. In her mind, I am a necessary evil and she has no interest in my life or my thoughts. My advice and the purpose for writing this is to issue this warning. If you encounter a narcissist, run for your life.

Post 4

@Kristee – It's great that he was able to get her to a therapist. Most of the time, you have to resort to manipulation in order to do this, and I'm not surprised that he had to give her an ultimatum.

It's kind of ironic, because narcissistic people are manipulative themselves. You have to turn the tables on them and use their own methods.

I really don't see how anyone could wind up married to a narcissistic woman, though. Her personality traits would just drive most men away before they got close enough to her to want to marry her.

Post 3

I think that narcissistic people need to seek therapy. They may not be able to see that they are hurting others, but the victims need to point this out to them.

My brother's wife is narcissistic, but she has come a long way since they first got together. This is because he demanded that they get marital counseling after about six months of marriage. She would have refused, but he said that it was the only way they could save their marriage.

The therapist could tell right away that the wife was the problem. He scheduled some private sessions with her to help her work on her disorder.

Post 2

I was friends with a narcissistic girl in high school, and I always knew that she would make a terrible wife for someone. She constantly needed me to assure her that her clothes looked fine and her makeup was okay.

She could not listen to me for more than a few seconds, though. While she required that I pay attention to her words carefully, she could not return the favor.

She got pregnant and got married during our senior year, and I was glad that she left school. Her poor husband would be the one to support her and be ignored by her, rather than me.

Post 1

My best friend ended up with a narcissistic wife, and she made him cut off all contact with me. I was really hurt that he would go along with this, because we had been friends for ten years.

She really brought him down. I ran into him at the supermarket after they had been married for about a year, and he seemed like a different person. He had become timid and self-doubting.

The marriage lasted another year before he finally snapped. He called me up after it ended, and we started hanging out again. He was able to recover his old personality fully, and I am so happy to have him back.

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