Yesterday I listened to yet another marriage dissolving over Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). That’s two this week. Having an NPD spouse (male or female) is a tough road, not impossible as I can personally attest, but very difficult.
I was musing today on why I have a good marriage. Usually I think it is because my husband has changed so much in the last 12 years of our 22 year marriage. He really has, with a little divine intervention. Maybe someday I should tell the story here; it’s quite a story.
But this morning, I was thinking about the things we enjoy doing together and how we have made them work for us. There aren’t many, maybe three. We think very differently about most everything, (part of that is just male and female I know) but we have learned to appreciate the good in the other and build our own lives while really enjoying what works between us: spirituality, gardening, movies, and sex. I guess there’s four! You can make a nice life out of your own fulfillment and those four.
We start the day by reading scripture together all snuggled up in bed. Sometimes we make love, sometimes we just snuggle, but we both agree it is one of the best parts of our day. Then he goes off to the gym and I exercise with my body ball. (I hate the gym; he loves it.) Many days we go out and garden together. We don’t agree about that either, but we both love being outside together, and we have decided that we love each other more than being right. We enjoy the same movies on the nights I’m off, and reading together in the evening.
It’s a simple life but it’s good.
Choosing how you look at things really makes a difference. All of us bring baggage into a marriage, being willing to look at your own, your beliefs your lies, and get them healed is terribly helpful in cleaning your side of the relationship street. Each person has a side to clean.
Today, I read the following quote in an email and thought, I used to do that all the time, thank God that has gotten better!
“Negative attributions-finding an unfavorable explanation for what a spouse does-constitute one of the more common thinking problems in marriage.” (p. 165, Love is Never Enough)
Aaron Beck says it’s common, and am I glad, because it was one of the hardest things for me to get over. I had beliefs inside that took awhile to get to, beliefs that said everyone was out to get me. (Because my older brother was jealous of me and made life hard.)
So if you are struggling with huge differences in your marriage, put the best possible interpretation on your spouses actions, usually they aren’t trying to make you angry or hurt you, but you might be set up to see it that way.
Stop mind reading. You’re no good at it. Ask for an explanation before you assume. Get your beliefs healed by asking God to tell you the truth. And then find some things you can agree to enjoy together. Research shows the more you play and laugh together, the safer you will feel together. That is good.
If you are married to a narcissist there is more to it. But this is a good start.