When My Husband Said This To Our Marriage Counselor, I Knew He Was A Narcissist

I was in major denial.

husband and wife mirror reflection iona didishvili/ Shutterstock

My husband and I spent months in marriage counseling before our counselor gave us a test. It was comprised of about one hundred questions or more. We each completed our answers and returned our tests. 

A few weeks later we arrived for our next appointment.

Our marriage counselor — who’s also a psychologist — was direct. First, he looked at me and said, "You aren’t an enabler. You are a major, major enabler." 


And then he turned toward my husband.

RELATED: The Strange Reason I Wouldn't Listen To My Marriage Counselor

"You lack empathy," he said. "It’s a critical deficit."

My husband was annoyed.

"What do I care," he said. "If some dog falls through the ice on the evening news or some guy I don’t know loses his job."

"Again," said the counselor. "It’s a critical deficit. Empathy is a developmental stage we receive in childhood and you are missing that critical empathy."

My husband continued to argue with our counselor. He thought the questions were ridiculous and the test meant nothing. He was unwilling to accept anything he was being told. Of course, he was unaware that this is the less offensive way of being diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder.


"This isn’t my opinion," said our marriage counselor. "These are industry standards in the field of psychology."

My husband still refused to acknowledge the testing.

Our counselor took months to get to this point. Good therapists understand it not only takes time to determine what is going on with an individual and a relationship, but you risk alienating people from wanting to continue in counseling if you say too much too soon.

We limped through a few more months of appointments.

My husband no longer wanted to continue marriage counseling.

"Why would I go back?" said my husband. "You get told you’re caring and I get told I’m an a**hole."


Those were his exact words.

"An enabler may be an overly caring person," I said. "But it’s still unhealthy behavior."

Ultimately, I continued counseling by myself. It was my own personal oxymoron: Marriage counseling for one. I didn’t know what else to do. I wasn't yet ready to leave my husband but I wasn't happy enough to want to stay either.

One day our marriage counselor sent me home with two books. One was about living with a narcissist and the other was about living with a passive-aggressive personality. My husband was what is known as a covert narcissist. Their demeanor appears laid-back but they are equally as controlling as an overt narcissist.


RELATED: The Question Unhappily Married Women Need To Ask Themselves

My husband saw the book about living with a narcissist.

Unbelievably, he picked it up to read it.

I went back to my next marriage counseling appointment.

"My husband wants to read the book about living with a narcissist," I said.

"Really?" said our counselor with surprise.

About a week later my husband walked into our bedroom. He slapped the book down on the table and looked right at me.

"Yeah," he said. "This is not me."

That was the beginning and end of a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder.

My husband refused to believe his own diagnosis — which is not uncommon for a narcissist.


A narcissist does not believe they are a narcissist. It’s related to their critical lack of empathy. The lack of empathy prohibits a narcissist from seeing outside of their own world and into the world of another. There’s only one world: The narcissist's world.

It’s why a narcissist doesn’t live in actual reality but in their warped perception of reality.

They never leave their own world.

It’s why they can make those who love them feel crazy.

RELATED: This Tiny Clue Is Why I Shouldn’t Have Married My Husband

I hadn’t just married a narcissist. I had married a narcissist on the severe end of the narcissistic spectrum.

I’m not sure why I stayed for as long as I did after the narcissistic personality disorder diagnosis. I think a part of me felt validated. I wasn’t losing my mind. This man was two entirely different people. One charming and one cold, cruel, and calculating. 


And I believed in miracles. 

I knew there wasn’t a cure for narcissism. I understood that it’s rare if impossible to treat this troubling disorder. But I thought if I prayed hard enough my husband might be the one rare exception.

I was fooling myself.

I was in denial.

Narcissism is an abusive and dangerous personality disorder. 

I don’t remember any of the other questions on the test we were given. In part, because there were so many, and in part, because the two questions my husband repeated that day are engrained in my memory. They left no room for any other detail.


Not only because my husband refused to acknowledge his lack of empathy, but because his answers to those questions made bells and whistles go off in my head.

They reminded me of all the times my husband had inappropriate reactions: When he refused to pick me up from surgery when I was under anesthesia. When he refused to come to the hospital to pick up our second son because he said he had to work. When he was annoyed I wouldn’t go away on a business trip when my mother was dying. When he didn’t shed a tear when our dog was put to sleep.

These are just a few of the times he lacked critical empathy.

I just didn’t understand it because he could be equally charming.


The average person would feel something if they watched the evening news and saw a dog struggling because it fell beneath the ice. They would feel a sense of sadness to hear even a stranger lost their job and was struggling.

But my husband felt nothing.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or anxiety as a result of ongoing emotional abuse at the hands of a narcissist, you are not alone.

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone and is not a reflection of who you are or anything you've done wrong.

If you feel as though you may be in danger, there is support available 24/7/365 through the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-7233. If you’re unable to speak safely, text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474, or log onto thehotline.org.


RELATED: There Are 3 Types Of Narcissists — How To Spot Each One

Colleen Sheehy Orme is a national relationship columnist, journalist, and former business columnist. She writes bout love, life, relationships, family, parenting, divorce, and narcissism.