Just Rude

It’s Narcissist Friday!     

Some of the most shocking and hurtful things come out of the mouths of narcissists. They seem to have no difficulty saying cruel things.

I know the old saying: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Yeah, that’s not true. If you have lived with or been in a close relationship with a narcissist there have almost certainly been times you wished they had thrown a rock at you rather than saying what they said. The bruise from a stick or rock will eventually heal and fade, but those words can ring in our ears for a long time.

And it isn’t always criticism. Sometimes it is simple rudeness. The way the narcissist treats the waitress or the checker at the store, for example. I know several people who work retail. The stories they tell of how people comment on how the store employee is so stupid or poorly dressed or overweight or whatever. The narcissist doesn’t care if he leaves the checker in tears or gets the waitress fired because she can’t function after his comments.

Pushing into line, commenting on the people around him, making crude noises, laughing and pointing at people, some narcissists do these things so casually that it seems they are just rude people. Offending others means nothing to them.

Yet, they don’t always act rudely. The narcissist will probably be able to shut the rudeness off in an instant around certain people. The waitress is fair game, but the boss at the next table hears nothing but respect.

But why? Well, some narcissists just see others as so far beneath them that they get pleasure from hurting them. Some like to rile people, set them on edge to see how they will react. It might even be you the narcissist is watching as he/she is rude to others.

And some use their rudeness as a type of “force shield.” It protects them from connecting. Who wants to connect with someone who acts like that? Narcissists often keep others at a distance. Sometimes certain people seem like they might be useful, so the narcissist won’t be rude. At least until the usefulness is drained away.

Some use their rudeness as a way to communicate superiority. Most people will back away from rudeness. Push into line and others will just step back. They might think you are rude, but they won’t say anything or challenge you. The narcissist knows this and uses this to communicate his disdain for others. By saying something that hurts or by challenging an etiquette rule, the narcissist sets himself apart from others. He/she might think others will be impressed.

The sad thing is that we live in a culture that almost honors rudeness. We reward the rude person not only by stepping out of their way and not reacting, but by accepting the idea that they are somehow better than we are. We might not like it, but we internalize it and believe it. When the rude person refers to our weight, we might be offended, but our pain comes from agreeing. When someone criticizes our work, or pushes in front of us, we tend to value that person more. No, we don’t like it, but there is something about aggression that we find attractive and valuable.

I have often been amazed at how people will speak highly of a teacher or leader who is just rude. That teacher thinks those people are fools who need to be educated. That leader thinks his people are sheep who need his guidance. They put others down by being rude in word and action and the result is more dedicated following. When you see it, it is a shocking and disgusting phenomenon.

So, what do you do? You probably spend a good amount of time apologizing. To the waitress or your mother or your friend or anyone. You hide your face in embarrassment. You try to make things better by explaining what he meant, when you know he just meant to be rude.

But listen, don’t accept rudeness as superiority. The narcissist is not superior. He/she is rude. Rudeness is bullying. Bullies are not superior or better. Bullies don’t deserve honor and respect. You might want to get out of the bully’s way. After all, the bully will hurt you if you don’t do what he/she wants. If you can avoid being with the bully, do it. The rude person is not attractive or desirable. The rudeness reveals what the person is made of.

In a world where the bully cannot hurt you, you might tell the waitress, “Oh, he just wants you to think he is better than you. He isn’t.” You might even refer to the narcissist as a bully. Of course, most people don’t live in that world. Most people would pay a high price for such honesty.

Whatever you do, don’t give excuses for the narcissist’s rude behavior. You may tell the waitress you are sorry, but don’t try to make the bully look better. He isn’t sick or tired or handicapped. He is just mean-spirited and rude. Yes, you sympathize with his victim, and you can say that or show that, but you don’t have to run interference for the narcissist. Let others see him as rude.

Before I close this, I have to say that not all who are rude are narcissists. Some are tired or sick. Some are just being thoughtless. I have been rude, and I would guess you have too. Sometimes we caught ourselves in time to apologize to our victim. Sometimes we realized our rudeness later and felt regret. You and I and many others are rude by accident or carelessness. The narcissist is rude on purpose.

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Turnabout

It’s Narcissist Friday!     

You have heard the old saying, “Turnabout is fair play.” It is supposed to mean that we take turns. You go, then I go, then you go again. That’s how you play fair. The phrase is actually quite old in English.

But narcissists don’t seem to understand playing fair. Because they think only of themselves and their desires, they are not interested in your turn. It’s like the little child who kicks the ball and then cuts in front of others to kick again. Even in friendly competition, we hear the narcissist say things like, “I need to do that again. That one didn’t go right.” Then he/she takes another turn.

Recently one of the advice columnists received a story from a woman whose boyfriend would say something pretending to be funny but was very hurtful. When the woman became angry and acted on her pain, the boyfriend would accuse her of hurting him. He didn’t care about how she was hurt. He just wanted her to hear about his pain. The columnist had some suggestions, but I appreciated her first words, “Your relationship is doomed…”

Of course, the columnist suggested that the woman sit the boyfriend down to explain how and why he hurt her and that he needed to listen to her. That might work in a normal relationship, but it won’t work with a narcissist. The narcissist isn’t interested in your pain. He is only interested in his own.

Over the years, “turnabout is fair play” came to mean something like revenge. If someone does something unpleasant or mean to you, then you are free to do something similar to them. But even that doesn’t work with the narcissist. The narcissist is mean, then you are hurt. Then the narcissist does another mean thing. If you express your pain, then you are blamed for hurting the narcissist. There is no turnabout with a narcissist.

We sometimes say that a person “can hand it out, but he can’t take it.” He can tease or flirt or abuse, but if the same is done to him, that’s different. Suddenly the thing he said was just in fun wasn’t as funny. The narcissist can mess with the food on your plate, but you better not touch his. She can tell a demeaning story about you in public, but you better not tell what you know about her. The moment you turn the situation back on the narcissist, you become an enemy.

You see, the narcissist is a creature that lives in constant fear. Fear of exposure. Fear of missing out. Fear of being rejected or ignored. Fear of being considered unimportant. All the boasting and manipulation comes out of the attempt to mitigate situations that present these threats. The irrational rage and aggression that most experience in their narcissistic relationships come when the narcissist feels threatened.

You don’t get a turn if the narcissist wants another. You don’t get to say your opinion if the narcissist has proclaimed his as fact. You don’t get to hit back or talk back or even expect an apology. Why? Because in comparison to what the narcissist feels, you simply do not count.

So what do you do? Well, you consider the cost, and you do what you think is right. Maybe it will be another thing you just choose to bear. Maybe it will be worthwhile to speak up. Just know two things. First, there will be a price to pay. If the narcissist sees you as competition or an enemy (which happens easily) he/she may be ruthless in dealing with you. We speak of “narcissistic rage,” an anger that hides just below the surface. Prepare yourself for it.

Second, you will not win. Very few of us are willing to compromise our own values in fighting the narcissist. We cannot hand out what they hand out. They are willing to destroy. They fight dirty and relentlessly. Narcissists seek power. They weaponize information. He/she knows your secrets and will not be afraid to shout them from the housetop. What you would never do to another person, the narcissist will do without hesitation or regret.

Once again, if you are in a relationship with a narcissist and can get out, do it. If you are dating or just began to realize your new friend is narcissistic, you might want to step back… a long way. If you can’t get out, find ways to cultivate support and health for yourself. The narcissist does not see you as a real person, nor does he/she care. You are in a battle where the other does not play fairly.

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Beg

It’s Narcissist Friday!     

The narcissist wants you to beg.

Ouch! That’s blunt. It’s true though, isn’t it? When you and I go to the narcissist in need, submitting ourselves to ask for help, the narcissist is in his heaven.

Quite a few years ago, I was in a situation and didn’t know what to do. I prayed and tried to follow the Lord’s leading and things went in a certain direction that ended up good. But there was a narcissist in the picture, someone who thought he had authority over me. He became very angry with me and succeeded in doing significant damage to my career. The reason he was angry was that I didn’t go to him and beg for wisdom and help. Since I showed that I neither wanted nor needed his help, he turned against me and became my enemy.

There are several reasons narcissists will hide information or money or opportunities, but one you should remember is that it makes the narcissist feel good when you come with your needs. If you begin to think you can do it on your own, or if you find other support, the narcissist will often find ways to block your progress so that you will admit your need of his/her help.

Think about that. When you come on your knees, begging for help, the narcissist is in a position of great power. He can be your savior. He can control you. He may dole out just enough to get you through the one situation, but not enough to let you be healthy and on your own. And, when you come, you are supposed to acknowledge his superiority and benevolence. You will be his faithful and adoring servant. Anything less and you are considered ungrateful.

Most victims will begin to own their position over time. Wives and children think of themselves as dependent. Employees will think of themselves as incompetent. Friends are made to feel inadequate. Church members own their unworthiness. The narcissist cultivates these feelings in others and uses them to manipulate and control.

And you are supposed to be grateful. The narcissist sees gratitude as “acknowledged inferiority.” This is why you will rarely hear a narcissist express honest thanks. To thank someone means you owe that person, and to owe someone means you are less than him. If the narcissist is in a position where he/she must express gratitude, the people close to him/her will almost certainly hear grumbling and disparaging words later.

You are never to forget how the narcissist helped you in your need. He/she won’t forget. You might think it was a small thing or that you already somehow paid him back, but you will never really be out from under the debt. Some narcissists are able to recount their “generosity” years later. I have heard of narcissistic mothers who never forget some small favor they did for their children.

The narcissist needs to view himself as superior. She will think of herself as gracious and giving and caring, no matter how she acts. The narcissist is better than you, that’s why you had to come for help. That’s why you will always owe the debt.

As I have said here before, there’s really no such thing as a generous narcissist, at least by any normal definition. Each gift or act of help is an investment.

So, what do you do? If you can, avoid going to the narcissist for help. Find other means of support. Yes, the narcissist will be unhappy about this and maybe try to put you down somehow, but you really don’t want to get into a narcissistic contract. If you can’t avoid going to the narcissist for help, and sometimes you can’t, then do it knowing that you will see the transaction differently. Pay it back, if you can. Then walk away without feeling guilty. If you can’t pay it back, then acknowledge the help and be grateful, but don’t let yourself become a servant. There is a limit to the responsibility of gratitude.

The narcissist I mentioned earlier was available to me at another time when I needed some guidance. I asked for his help. To be fair, his help was good, and I was grateful. But I did not become his servant, nor did I lose my understanding of who he was. He thought I would be grateful enough to continue to come to him and kneel in my need. When I did not, he became angry.

There are times when you just can’t avoid the narcissist or his/her help. Don’t be ashamed, but don’t give up your independence. And remember how the game is played.

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The Other Cheek

It’s Narcissist Friday!     

It seems to me that it is a great sin to use the Bible as support for sin. Hitler used the Bible to justify the destruction of the Jews. Slave owners used the Bible to justify holding and using slaves. Today, abusers often use the Bible to justify their abuse. By twisting the meaning and the heart of Scripture, many have seen some people as less than others, some as having greater rights, and some as deserving punishment.

I realize this is a big area of discussion, but one facet of this that came to my attention recently is the charge of Jesus for us to “turn the other cheek.” Preachers, teachers, and abusers have used this to shame the victim to silence and submission. They say we should endure the abuse quietly and patiently, that loving the enemy/abuser means to stay and suffer.

This post will be a little different because I want to show briefly how proper Scripture interpretation and application helps us sort something like this out. There is no doubt that Jesus said this. Here’s the quote:


But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.   
Matthew 5:39 (NKJV) 

The context is the Sermon on the Mount, particularly a section on loving others. In this Sermon, Jesus is gracious and kind, loving toward His listeners. The consistent message is a message of grace and love. To take these words and use them to hurt others or to justify hurting others is wrong.

There are three considerations: First, this is a direct reference to the Law of Moses, where the leaders (magistrates, judges, authorities) are given guidelines for punishing offenders. In the Law, the punishment could not be worse than the crime. No more than an eye could be taken for the loss of an eye. No more than a tooth could be taken for the loss of a tooth. Usually, a monetary judgment was taken instead of this kind of physical recompense, but that judgment was limited by the size of the crime. And it was carried out by the authorities.

Almost naturally, the people saw this as a prescription for revenge. If you punched me, I could punch you. If you stole from me, I could steal from you. If you killed someone in my family, I could kill someone in yours. But Jesus told them not to do that. It was only a prescription for the authorities, not for the individual. There was no call to vengeance in the Law.

The second consideration is Jesus’ own action. It is not an accident that we have a specific account of Jesus being struck on the cheek by the guard in the house of the High Priest. (John 18:23) And what did Jesus do? He asked why this was done. There is nothing to suggest that He turned his other cheek to His abuser. Instead, He appealed to the authority of the Law. What was it that gave this man the right to strike Jesus? That was the question. Because He asked that question, there was no more abuse in that house.

Finally, the context of this charge is a call for us to be people centered on love. Throughout the sermon, Jesus calls His listeners to love each other, to go beyond the minimum and be generous with their love. If someone takes advantage of you, still be loving. Be that loving person God has made you to be. Let your enemy be humbled and exposed by your love. Let others see the power of your love.

Now, this is brief, I know. I could go into a lot more depth. But think about these things. There is nothing here about staying in an abusive relationship. If you can leave, and you think you should, do it. You are allowed by Scripture to avoid the abuse. There is no call here to let someone hit you over and over. Pick up the phone and call the police. Get in the car and drive away. Move out. Whatever it takes. There is nothing in this passage to tell you otherwise.

If we want to get the proper sense of the charge of Jesus in these words, we should see three simple things.

  • First, call the authorities. It is their job to deal with abusers.
  • Second, don’t take revenge yourself. It is better to be the abused than the abuser. (I know it doesn’t feel better.)
  • Third, don’t allow the cruelty of others to change you from the loving person you are. Love from a distance if you have to. Love and pray, but protect yourself. Don’t become cruel in response to cruelty. Your love is your strength, use it generously, and it will be powerful.

Frankly, these three things are challenges enough in themselves. They are deep and call for faith. But the message of Jesus is that our Lord loves us and will care for us. He is our protection and provision. He will deal with those who hurt us. He calls us to receive and share His love.

We are not people of vengeance and hatred, because that’s not who He is. We are to love our enemies and those who hurt us. But we are not expected to suffer when there is a way out that is right. Go to Jesus and ask Him. Seek His will and follow it. And consider His example when someone struck Him on the cheek.

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Followers

It’s Narcissist Friday!     

 

Politics and narcissists seem to go together. In fact, any job or lifestyle where someone has followers attracts the narcissist. But how in the world do such cruel and insincere people get followers?

How do abusive pastors get faithful servants? How do famous and self-focused performers surround themselves with people? How do ambitious and money-grubbing politicians always have supporters? How does the cruel boss always have toadies who will do his will?

Well, of course, some people are brought into the narcissist’s circle in the same way most of us were drawn in. Narcissists typically have a certain charisma and charm. They say the right things and act in the right way. They appear to listen, care, and help. Narcissists are experts at beginning relationships.

But why do people stay with them? We know that narcissists use and misuse people. We know that narcissists are not really interested in others except for what they can get from them. We know that narcissists can be dismissive and even anti-social. So why do they have followers?

Some stay with the narcissist, because the narcissist is good at making promises. You know that the narcissist often promises just the right thing in just the right way. There will be reasons why the promise can’t happen quickly but assurances that the promise is coming. By making enough promises to enough people, or just by insinuating cooperation and support, the narcissist gathers people around who wait for fulfillment. As they wait, they serve. They don’t want any negative to come to the narcissist because that might jeopardize the promise. So they follow, serve, even seem to worship the narcissist.

Others live in fear of the narcissist. I have known people who don’t dare disagree or walk away from the narcissist because they are afraid of the consequences. Narcissists can be very intimidating. They can also be ruthless. Oppose them at your own risk. They won’t care how much they hurt you, how overboard their revenge is. Many have experienced the rage of the narcissist. Imagine if he/she was your boss, pastor, representative. Narcissists love to be in positions where they have power. If one has power over you, you know the intimidation.

Along the line of waiting for the promise, some have invested in the narcissist. Maybe they compromised themselves in some way to get favor with the narcissist. Maybe they actually gave money to the narcissist or his/her business. Those who have invested in these ways also wait for their return. They might not see it as a promise as much as tagging along until the narcissist gets into a position where the investment pays off. A close relationship with a politician can become lucrative. A strong connection with a famous person or a powerful person has real possibilities. Successful narcissists are usually willing to spread money and influence in order to keep others submissive.

Some people like the excitement. They follow the narcissist much like some follow the ambulance. There is almost always some kind of drama around the narcissist, particularly those who have grabbed the spotlight. Some have tricked the narcissist into thinking they are supportive, while they are really just observing and absorbing the energy. There may be little commitment, but these folks can stay with the narcissist a long time, perhaps even after others have left. They like the drama.

It also seems to be a fact that narcissists are drawn to other narcissists. It is not unusual for narcissists to be married to each other. There are many narcissists who have risen to power positions while serving other narcissists. If you think about it, a successful narcissist is a role model, an ideal, for other narcissists. A person who is willing to use and abuse others to get what he wants will often accept that same behavior from an idol. Perhaps that cruel behavior is validated somehow when the great person does it. Perhaps it is just the price one pays to be close to the action.

Some narcissists don’t have followers, I suppose. Some rule only over their family or their small circle of co-workers and friends. Some don’t care about the affection of others, the loyalty or commitment, as long as they get the service. So, having “faithful” followers is not a test of a narcissist.

When you look at a public narcissist, don’t be fooled into thinking that they are less narcissistic because they have followers. There is no wisdom in crowds. It is, in fact, relatively easy to fool many of the people much of the time. Deceit, manipulation, braggadocio—these things work in our broken world, and narcissists are usually very good at them.

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Forgiveness and Trust

It’s Narcissist Friday!     

 

“Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.” – C. S. Lewis

 

Narcissists can be cruel.

Okay, I know that’s an understatement! Narcissists can tear your life apart. They can affect you for years, even long after they are “out” of your life. Betrayal, criticism, manipulation, theft, abuse, destructive acts, lies, and so much more. These things hurt for a long time.

It shouldn’t be any wonder that victims of narcissists find it difficult to forgive. I know that I have written on this before, more than once in fact. It needs to be said often. There is no doubt that we, as Christians, are called to forgive. But we must understand what that means.

Sometimes the church has the tendency to push things to ridiculous lengths. (Yeah, I know, another understatement.) Since the times of the Pharisees, church leaders have had the philosophy that if a little is good, a lot is better. The Pharisees built rules upon rules and made things far more restrictive than the Scriptures did. Many of today’s preachers and traditions do the same thing.

One of the things some have taken far beyond what is reasonable is this idea of forgiveness. The abuser is supposed to be “rehabilitated” and welcomed back, they say. Predators should be “dealt with” and then brought back into fellowship. “If he/she is sorry, then we are called to forgive,” they say.

I know pastors who were “forgiven” for their infidelity and welcomed back to ministry only to do the same thing again. We know abusers who are allowed to come back to the family under this idea of forgiveness only to abuse again. Many have forgiven their narcissistic friends and have felt their betrayal again. We all could tell such stories.

Bear with a little repetition. Forgiveness is not saying that nothing happened. Forgiveness is not saying that everything is now okay in the relationship. Forgiveness is not deciding that punishment is unnecessary. Forgiveness is not being silent about the offense. Forgiveness is not opening yourself to the abuser again. And forgiveness is not trusting again.

For some reason, the church has expected people to trust again. If you really forgive, people say, you will give the person another chance to hurt you and others. I’m sorry, but that sounds foolish to me.

Forgiveness is continuing to love, even when it must be from a distance. Forgiveness is moving forward with your life and not keeping the other person in a prison you carry around with you. Forgiveness is understanding who your offender is and, perhaps, deciding to move forward with him/her anyway. Forgiveness is releasing the pain of the abuse to the Lord who loves and comforts you. Forgiveness is moving on.

It is one thing to let someone hurt you. You can choose that. It is far different—and wrong—to try to convince yourself that they won’t hurt you when you know they will. In other words, forgiveness does not mean you should be dishonest with yourself or others. You may, as part of your forgiveness, decide to open yourself to more abuse. That’s up to you. But you can’t lie to yourself and say that no more abuse will ever happen. That’s different. You can decide to put the offender in a position of trust again, but you can’t take the risk of convincing yourself that your trust will not be broken again. Love risks, but it does not lie. Love may be blind, but it is not stupid.

But, but, but… Can you be loving when you don’t trust someone? Are you really forgiving when you don’t open yourself to that person again?

In John 2:24-25 we are told that many people saw the signs and wonders Jesus did. They were impressed with Him. They wanted to be with Him. But, the Scripture says, He did not entrust Himself to them. In other words, He didn’t trust them. Why? Because, the text goes on, He knew what was in their hearts. He loved all of them and came to forgive them, but He knew better than to trust them.

Now, people do change. Some are deeply grieved because of their past actions. Some. But the “Dear Abby” columns are full of letters from women who seem shocked that the men who left their wives for them are now cheating again. Betrayal and abuse becomes easier the more it is done. And narcissists who are trusted again will almost certainly abuse again.

If you think someone has changed and you want to risk again, go ahead. Just do it with your eyes open. That’s different than trusting.

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Money

It’s Narcissist Friday!     

 

“Money isn’t everything, but it’s way ahead of whatever’s in second place.”

 

I saw that on a postcard behind the seat of my parent’s car when I was in third or fourth grade and have never forgotten it. It’s one of those sayings that makes so much sense but doesn’t make sense at the same time. We would all agree that money is not the most important thing, but sometimes money seems more important than anything else.

Many times I have heard people say that money problems are the number one cause of stress in marriage. I know, if you talk with couples about money, you would think that was true. I don’t look at money as the cause of marriage problems. Money is far more likely to be the symptom of marriage problems. Communication, control, lack of responsibility—these are far more likely to be the real problems.

At the same time, money is important. You can’t do much without it. The narcissist knows this.

When Bill and Susan were married, Susan had an inheritance from her grandfather in the bank. It wasn’t a lot, a few thousand dollars, but it was hers. Bill insisted that his name should be put on her bank account since they were married and now shared everything. Susan loved Bill and agreed. Bill had a good job with a great salary. Susan also had a great job, but when they moved away from their hometown, she couldn’t find anything quite as good. That was okay because she planned to stay home when the kids came. She worked part-time jobs for a while, then finally stopped. She let her credentials slip, the ones that would have enabled her to back to her good job. After all, she and Bill were happy, and the future looked bright.

If Bill needed a new car, he bought one. Susan was excited. When they bought the big house, it seemed a little extravagant, but Bill said it would be an investment in their future. After all, he wanted the people at work to know how successful he was. The boat and the camper were fun and would be great for the kids. Bill had a lot of toys, Susan thought, but he made good money.

Over the years, Bill became more and more controlling, even demanding. He spent more time at work than with the family, and his free time was spent with friends and his toys. He traveled more than he used to for work. Eventually, Susan discovered that Bill traveled with his co-worker, Debbie, and booked one motel room. Debbie was in the circle of boating and camping friends also, a circle where Susan wasn’t particularly welcome. She began to understand.

When Bill realized that his infidelity was discovered, his personality seemed to change. He became even more angry and critical. He blamed Susan for everything. In a few months, Susan went to a lawyer. She told Bill she wanted a divorce.

That’s when she learned that her inheritance was gone. That’s also when she learned that nearly everything they owned was in Bill’s name alone. The checking account they shared, the only one she thought they had, had little left in it. Bill quickly drained that, closed the credit card accounts, and gathered up whatever cash he could find around the house. He told Susan that she would have to leave the house and the kids behind. Then he changed the locks. Susan had only what was left in her purse. Bill said she could go with nothing or she could stay. That was her choice.

As terrible as this story is, it is simply a fictional compilation of so many stories I have heard. Some aren’t this bad. Some are far worse. I am troubled by hearing from so many that they cannot leave the marriage because they have no money with which to hire a lawyer. Some don’t even have enough money to get out of the house for a night. Narcissists too often separate their victims from support like families and friends. They also isolate (imprison) by controlling the money.

Yes, money is important. I usually counsel people who think they will need to leave a relationship to put money aside, little by little, and hide it from the narcissist. Even a hundred dollars would be welcome if there is danger to you or your children. Gas money. Food money. If you have to travel across country to get back to your support, you need these things. Call it escape money.

And tell your daughters and sons that they are entitled to keep gifts that were given to them and things they worked for. Cars, inheritance money, even a house can still belong to them. I understand the idea that couples should share things but listen: a loving husband would not expect to take your daughter’s bank account. He would be happy to let her keep it in her name. Same thing with job credentials like union memberships or licenses or further education. A wise husband would want his wife—even if the plan is for her to put work aside while she cares for the children—to have a way of providing for herself if something happened to him. He should want her to keep people in her life who support her and love her. He should want her to feel and to be free.

Marriage is not the prison the church has often made it out to be. It is to be two free and strong friends walking together through life. Yes, they have covenanted to stay together. Yes, they want to share that life in the fullest way possible. But we bring differences to marriage, and those differences build both people. If one is the prisoner of the other (and it can be the man who is the prisoner) then neither are blessed by the marriage.

Narcissists love to control the “purse strings” because control is what gives them power. At work, in the extended family, in the marriage, even among friends, money is a way to control.

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