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I Promise to Hate, Despise, and Abuse You until Death Do Us Part: Marriage in a Narcissistic Age by Andrea V. Oelger and Troy W. Martin (Bourbonnais, IL: Bookend Publishers, 2010).
Help! I'm in Love with a Narcissist by Steven Carter and Julia Sokol (New York: M. Evans and Company, 2005).
Loving the Self-Absorbed: How to Create a More Satisfying Relationship with a Narcissistic Partner by Nina W. Brown (Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2003).
Narcissism and Intimacy: Love and Marriage in an Age of Confusion by Marion F. Solomon (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1989).
What is it like being married to a narcissist? Non-narcissistic spouses answer, "Pure hell or at least as close to hell as one can get on this earth!" Narcissistic Marriages typically pass through three stages.
The first stage of a narcissistic marriage is the recruitment stage. During this stage, the narcissistic spouse makes the other feel as though they are soul-mates. When recruiting a woman, for example, a narcissistic spouse can be exhilarating and exciting when he needs to be. When he’s recruiting her to do his bidding, he’s irresistibly appealing and charming. Sometimes, he’s funny, serious, witty, sad, hurt, and the list goes on. Whatever she needs to be recruited, the narcissistic spouse can act the part so well that she usually offers little resistance and indeed willingly becomes a supporting actor in his all-about-me movie. This stage is as good as it gets in a narcissistic marriage.
The second stage of a narcissistic marriage is the user stage. A recruited partner expects the narcissistic spouse to complete him or her but soon discovers that the narcissistic spouse is all about depleting, not completing. Narcissists need huge amounts of confirmation and affirmation to maintain their illusory image. Although everyone needs affirming emotional responses from other people, the narcissist’s need is over-the-top and is never really satisfied. While narcissists may prefer positive emotional responses from others, negative responses work just as well to validate their false selves. If a narcissistic husband can manipulate his wife into feeling and expressing fear, frustration, anger, or even hatred, he feels affirmed. By controlling her emotions and her emotional responses, even negative ones, the projected sense of his false self as the “adult” in control is secured in this narcissistic marriage. Narcissists are like black holes. They draw everything into themselves. Resources, emotions, everything is sucked in, but nothing comes out. While consuming vast amounts of resources, narcissists return little or nothing to anyone else. All resources are consumed to sustain their illusory self-image and are not available for accomplishing tasks or goals or anything else.
The third stage of a narcissistic marriage is the used-up stage. In this stage, the non-narcissistic spouse has nothing left to give or stops being willing to meet the narcissist's demands. Many non-narcissistic spouses report feeling worn out or completely exhausted. In this stage of a narcissistic marriage, the marriage usually ends but may continue as a separation-under-one-roof as the narcissist recruits others to meet his or her needs and makes the non-narcissistic spouse feel as a complete failure in the marriage. Only very rarely does a non-narcissistic spouse find the support from others and the strength to stand up to the narcissist and to find some fulfillment in a narcissistic marriage. See surviving a narcissist.