Do parents and siblings have a responsibility to tell a family member that his/her mate has NPD and is abusive? What can family members do? Is it right to not do anything even though you know your family member is unaware they’re being abused?
Our son doesn’t realize that he’s married to a covert narcissist who controls his life and manipulates him, her family, and the friends she allows into her inner circle. Because of this he’s now estranged from all but one brother on his side of family. She and he use that brother in triangle communication (with our family members they give the silent treatment to) and in gaslighting of those family members.
Before we realized she’s narcissistic, and possibly borderline personality disordered too, we attempted to speak with them in person about how they increasingly slight us. Her response was severe silent treatment followed by a frightful rage like no other.
After which we reflected upon how a few years back her own family had told us “she’s not nice, she’s mean, we’re all afraid of her, he’s the first person who can manage her”. But we’ve noticed over the years since her family’s confession our son is less able to control her and we’ve seen drastic changes in our son, changes we attribute to his living under chronic stress.
We are no longer comfortable to be alone with her or him because we won’t submit ourselves to her abusive behaviours, we feel unsafe to be with her, and we won’t give her more opportunities to lie and gaslight us.
Before they’d started dating we’d watched her become what he wanted, physically changed her body and pursued his hobbies. It’s the love bombing and “I found my soulmate” narcissists do to catch their mate. And with each milestone, like getting engaged, married (she picked his best man, bridezilla extreme), having children…she’s gotten less accommodating and more controlling and demanding. Our son doesn’t see how she’s groomed him since they met and totally controls him nor how he’s been given the impossible role of making her happy.
That one time her family said she’s mean, but they don’t ever speak of what’s wrong, they go along with and enable her behaviour. And they’re rewarded with being allowed in their lives. They happily take being the favourites while our family is shut out and our son becomes unrecognizable.
He thinks her family is wonderful, but her parents told us they “love him because he gives us a better daughter when he manages her”. Whereas, we love him not because of what he gives us, but because of who he’s always been since we learned of his conception, and we still love him even with the years of him being such a cruel jerk to us. Her family’s love is conditional, ours is not.
We have such anger that her family, especially her parents, enable her NPD behaviours while putting so much pressure upon our son to be their hero, their lion tamer who is expected to without question nor hesitation feed his family to their lion! We are shocked by their selfishness and cluelessness as to how they and their daughter negatively impact so many others. Their lack of empathy and lack of self reflection abilities runs in their family.
Meanwhile our nice and highly intelligent son is no longer recognizable. He used to be a very even tempered happy optimistic thoughtful person with a circle of genuine friends. He was such a sweet nice guy adored by his family and friends. And he used to enjoy being with our family and was close with his siblings. But now he’s stressed, so snarky, and comes across as very mean and conceited. He doesn’t visit our home and rarely sees his siblings and rarely communicates with our family, not even holidays and birthdays. His only friends are the ones she allows. The few times they’re around our family he’s so tense and he cuts people off in mid sentence as he tries to control even simple conversations so as not to set her off. He’s outright rude to us as parents. It’s obvious he’s not allowed by her to like us. And he’s unaware how he walks on eggshells just to try and make her happy and to prevent her from blowing up.
As parents, watching our adult son negatively change as he’s been with his narcissistic girlfriend/wife has been a stressful heartbreaking situation akin to having an adult son who’s an alcoholic or addict. It’s a grief like no other given that he’s still alive, but who we always knew appears to be gone.
Because of all of the above we limit contact with them. Trying to improve our relationship only serves to make it more distant. She’s made it clear we aren’t people she wants in their life. We’ve been adjusting to this loss, but given that we’re people who typically work things out (with non-personality disordered friends and family) it’s difficult to settle into this estrangement. And we also question if we’ve done all that we can, for how is it okay for us to walk away and leave our son and grandchildren who are living in such an abusive home environment?
We hope a day comes when he wakes up to his reality, but what if that day never comes? Is there something we could/should do that we’re missing? Yes, he’s an adult making life choices, but he’s also not experienced in such dysfunctional family behaviour and his years of living with her NPD behaviours including her silent treatment and raging makes us wonder if he’s suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. Is it right to not do anything when a family member appears mentally ill, but has been convinced by his/her NPD spouse that his family is the problem?