Submissive Wife or Narcissistic Abuse?
It is an admirable goal for a Christian woman to work on becoming a submissive wife, as outlined in Ephesians 5:22-33. Still, this sincere desire to please God and her husband can tempt a narcissist to manipulate and abuse the woman.
Narcissist predators are looking for women who strive to be selfless and willing to sacrifice to care for others. I know this all too well from first-hand experience.
The abuse can be very subtle, with the control increasing gradually over time so that the wife gradually adapts.
The narcissist husband and submissive wife may function well together in the beginning in their respective roles, making a home and raising a family. However, as time passes, the narcissist expects more and more, and the submissive wife feels frustrated like she can never do enough. Eventually, frustration leads to depression. The narcissist cannot love, the submissive wife feels unloved, and the relationship spirals downhill.
In typical narcissist fashion, the husband blames the wife. As a pleaser, she takes the blame and buys yet another book on submission and tries harder, becoming more frustrated, with more downhill spiraling, rinse, and repeat.
10 Characteristics of an Abused Woman
- She's a hopeless romantic. She is convinced that love, her love, will triumph over all. It takes her the longest to realize that love does not absolve her spouse of responsibility for their acts.
- She is unsure when to give up and walk away.
- She's a natural at apologizing and admitting wrongdoing. She bears the brunt of the blame for whatever goes wrong.
- She accepts full responsibility for everything.
- She doesn't think she's good enough. Her poor self-worth has been systematically eroded in an abusive relationship, which means that no matter how flawed her spouse is, she still feels inferior to them. She perceives that individual as making up for her shortcomings. She is a generous and patient person.
- Her 'NO' is ineffective. In other words, she is easily manipulated and bullied. She may appear strong-willed, but her goals, needs, and logic are never as important to her as her companion.
- She has no concept of boundaries. She lacks the impulse for self-defense or self-preservation. Her best strategy is frequently to hope that people will treat her fairly.
- She believes she is incomplete without someone else. She does not entirely believe in her ability to govern herself and handle life's obstacles.
- She is very interested in rescuing. She may long for a rescuer, but as a compassionate person, she can't help but rush to the aid of everyone in need. (This factor frequently draws her to an abusive spouse.) She takes a long time to realize that the individuals she saves are more likely to become aggressive than to express gratitude and loyalty in the long run.
- She believes she is entitled to far less from her life than others. Other individuals have rights; she has only wishes, which she considers ridiculous.
Books on Controlling Men and Codependent Women
Knowledge is power and can be truly liberating. I’ve read a dozen or more books on these topics, and my favorites are listed below. Many are available in your local library.
Maintain your sanity by understanding the dynamics of a narcissistic relationship. Reading about others’ experiences will show you that you are not alone and possibly provide other tips for coping.
The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans
The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists by Eleanor Payson
Aunt Alex's Army Manual: How to Free Yourself From the Narcissist
Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft
God and Women by Dr. John D. Garr
Feminine By Design by Dr. John D. Garr
Battered into Submission: The Tragedy of Wife Abuse in the Christian Home
Wisdom Hunter by Randal Arthur (a novel, but so good you will need a highlighter)
Breaking the Bondage of Legalism by Neil T. Anderson
Narcissist /Codependent Pinterest Board
Follow Robin Sampson’s board Narcissist, Codependents, Gaslighting & Parental Alienation on Pinterest.
Celebrate Recovery is a program in many churches nationwide that offers help to co-dependent women and others in recovery. Check the Celebrate Recovery website to find a church in your area.