Woman moved back in with 'covert narcissist' husband during lockdown

On lockdown with my narcissist husband: Woman, 54, reveals why she quit her travel plans to return home to live with the man who makes her feel ’emotionally scared’

  • Sarah Griffiths, 54, who lives near Perth, Australia, has been married for 25 years
  • Therapist told how her husband Marc, 49, is an undiagnosed ‘covert narcissist’ 
  • Was travelling to have time away when lockdown hit and she had to return home  
  • EXCLUSIVE: Added has been ‘scared’ of living with him emotionally for years  

A woman who was travelling to have some time away from her husband who is a self-described ‘covert narcissist,’ has told how she had to return to a home where she previously did not feel notionally safe and into quarantine. 

Sarah Griffiths, 54, who is originally from Essex but now lives near Perth, Australia, was having some time away from husband Marc, 49, who she has two 23-year-old sons with, in a bid to try and save their 25-year marriage.

However, the mother-of-two, who had been to Costa Rica and Peru but was in Bali when the coronavirus pandemic worsened, had to cut her trip short due to the lockdown and got back to Australia on the last running flight.

‘I did delay coming back,’ explained Sarah. ‘I had a lot of people ask me, “shouldn’t you go back home now?” But I didn’t want to. If there was another way I could have avoided it…I really didn’t want to. It is very difficult, because I wasn’t ready to do this.’

Sarah Griffiths (pictured), 54, who is originally from Essex but now lives near Perth, Australia, has told how she had to return to a home where she previously did not feel notionally safe and into quarantine

The mother-of-two said she has been ‘scared’ of living with her husband Marc, 49, emotionally for years. Pictured together in Paris on Sarah’s birthday trip

The therapist admitted she delayed returning home from Bali when the lockdown hit because she didn’t want to return home, but ended up catching the last flight back to Australia. Pictured with Marc, in Venice

Sarah had decided to take five months out travelling in a bid to try and save their 25-year marriage, but was only five weeks in when the lockdown hit. Pictured, with Marc on their wedding day

Sarah, who is now a trained therapist specialising in abuse, says she first came to the realisation Marc, who hasn’t been officially diagnosed, had traits of a narcissist around four years ago.

‘I was on such a downwards slide emotionally, and I was really struggling with some things he was doing,’ explained Sarah. ‘I never seemed to be important and he would make a lot of promises and break them without even thinking about it. He didn’t seem to care about me at all.’

‘There were lots and lots of characteristics that were very, very concerning to me, and that were becoming more and more obvious and more a part of his character.’

The mother-of-two, who has created a video series with Marc exploring narcissism in the hope it will help others, eventually went to see a counsellor – who first mentioned the word ‘narcissist.’

‘At the time, I rejected it,’ said Sarah. ‘No one wants to think that. I was like, “no, that’s not true.” Also, I thought a lot of it was me – because that’s how these things work. They erode our sense of self and we think it must be us that’s in the wrong and that it’s all our fault.’

Sarah took on board some of the stuff said, and was given tips, tools and techniques to look out for. 

After speaking to a psychologist, the mother-of-two (pictured) decided to broach the subject of narcissism with Marc  

‘As I started to do that, I realised more and more they were probably right,’ she explained. ‘Over the last few years, I have been through this with three other therapists because I really didn’t want to believe it, but all of them came to the same conclusion.’

After speaking to a psychologist who detailed lots of things that had happened chronologically in their marriage, Sarah decided she couldn’t ignore it any longer.

WHAT IS NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER

Narcissistic personality disorder — one of several types of personality disorders — is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. 

But behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

A narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of life, such as relationships, work, school or financial affairs. 

People with narcissistic personality disorder may be generally unhappy and disappointed when they’re not given the special favors or admiration they believe they deserve. They may find their relationships unfulfilling, and others may not enjoy being around them.

Treatment for narcissistic personality disorder centers around talk therapy (psychotherapy). 

Source: Mayoclinic.org 

Speaking of how she broached the subject with Marc, Sarah explained: ‘I didn’t exactly know what to do, but I went to Marc and said, “this is what I’ve realised, and this is what I’ve been shown. These are all your characteristics, this is how it plays out in our marriage, and this is the affect it has on me.

This is what you do, this is how I feel, and this is how these characteristics are described.” I told him that I was sorry because it is not a nice word, but that I really thought he was a narcissist.’

She continued: ‘It was quite a brave thing to do. I still remember being terrified of doing it – but a lot of it was because I was terrified that he was. It was more the case of, if this is true, what do I do?’ 

Sarah says that when she first put it to Marc, he wouldn’t accept it at all, and just thought it was ‘ridiculous.’ 

‘Since it was put to me and since I put it to him, I have just carried on observing and learning,’ she explained. ‘It was very interesting the way he came to accept it, because the overriding trait of a narcissist is that they don’t have any empathy.’

‘They don’t care at all how their actions or their words affect the person they’re supposed to care about – the most important person in their life.’

‘That was definitely true about Marc, for a long time. He could do and say the most horrific things, and be surprised I was even affected, or that there might be a consequence. It was completely alien to him.’

Speaking of what she views as one of the worst occasions, Sarah explained: ‘Against my better judgement, I finally agreed to emigrate to Australia with Marc because he promised every decision and everything we did would be in my best interests – and I believed that.’

Sarah first came to the realisation Marc, who hasn’t been officially diagnosed, had traits of a narcissist around four years ago. Pictured, at the launch of a book Sarah wrote a chapter for

The couple (pictured together, during their travels), have created a video series exploring narcissism in the hope it will help others

Sarah (pictured) had to cut her trip short due to the coronavirus lockdown and got back to Australia on the last running flight

‘However, once we were in Australia, it all just went out the window and he just made every decision based on what he wanted – which was definitely not in my best interests.

‘I wanted to leave him because I was so unhappy. It was making me really, really ill.  He told me if I left he would report me to immigration and have me deported – and that he would keep the children – who were nine at the time.

Speaking in a video the couple filmed, Marc explained: 

‘It goes back to childhood. It goes back to a position when a child has a tantrum because they can’t get their own way – it’s how things are dealt with in that situation.

If someone learns the behaviour that if I create a fuss, I get what I want, that behaviour becomes part of a routine and part of their programming as they grow up.

You sometimes find with narcissists, that doesn’t happen all the time. It only happens with people who they know they can influence to get the right thing. 

You’ll tend to find narcissists can fit in incredibly well in the world and with friends and everything else because they are never placed in a position where they try and get something by manipulating a situation. 

It is often in a husband-wife relationship where that happens.

Many people may know me and think Marc is perfectly normal, and they don’t see what Sarah is talking about here – but they don’t see what happens in the husband-wife relationship.’

Just a few months ago, Sarah says Marc asked her, because of the very particular hypnotherapy that she does, to carry out a session on him to try and determine why he was so unhappy.    

‘It was very interesting because what we uncovered was this belief that he didn’t deserve to be happy,’ she explained. ‘It wasn’t anything his parents intended at all, they were amazing people. They really loved their children, there’s no doubt about that.’

‘But Marc had a very strict, religious, Christian upbringing and was not allowed to be, or to think, or to say anything, other than what was expected. So he had to put aside any other desires in his life he might have had, other than being in the church.’

‘But because there were other things he wanted to do, and especially because he wanted to be a professional golfer, what he learnt was that happiness wasn’t important.’

Sarah goes on to say she has been ‘scared’ of living with Marc emotionally for a long time. 

‘In April 2018 he had an emotional breakdown because of an event that happened at work, and around that time, because he deteriorated so much, I was talking to a counsellor about how I was actually scared,’ she explained. ‘We were scared for my emotional well-being – and at that time I went to the UK for about seven months. That was in February 2019.’

Sarah returned that August, hoping that she had given them both the time and space they needed.

‘I had to find some emotional strength,’ she said. ‘I came back thinking things would have changed quite a bit and they had changed some, but not nearly enough.’

‘It was really towards the end of last year and the beginning of this year that he became very volatile and explosive, and would turn on me in the most toxic and derogatory way emotionally, and out of nowhere, and for no reason.’

In February 2019, Sarah (pictured) went to the UK for about seven months to give the couple the time and space they needed

The mother-of-two says that while some things had changed quite a bit, others things had not changed anywhere nearly enough. Pictured, with Marc during their travels 

Speaking of one occasion in January, Sarah said: ‘I was actually sitting with him at our restaurant, and was talking about all of the work that had gone into it, and how lovely it was.

‘Then, all of a sudden, he just really attacked me – saying how would I know about the work that had gone into it because I wasn’t here when we did it. It’s true, I was in the States, but he knew I was going to be there when he decided to do it. He kept on, and on, and on.’

‘From that, he went into saying how the only relief he has is playing golf. And he said, “don’t ever ask me to choose between you and my golf because I would definitely choose golf – and you don’t mean anything to me.”‘

She added: ‘All of this tirade just came out of nowhere. When I have asked him about it since, he says he can only put it down to having a “psychotic episode.” That’s how he described it.’

‘The next day I was shattered and devastated, but he wanted to know what was wrong with me. It was like nothing had happened. 

As her business is online, Sarah decided to work and travel for five months to give the pair some more time to work on their own personal development. However, the coronavirus pandemic struck, meaning she actually only had five weeks away.         

‘Obviously, it’s not ideal,’ she continued. ‘People look at it from the outside and they’re probably like, it’s great Sarah’s there to look after Marc while all of this is going on, but they don’t understand what was going on in the background.

Sarah was due to be away for five months, but the coronavirus pandemic struck, meaning she actually only had five weeks away. Pictured, during her travels with Marc

Once lock down is over, Sarah plans to carry on exploring the experiment of being able to work and travel. Pictured, during her travels with husband, Marc

‘They probably look at it and say they can’t believe she’s gone and left him in this crisis, but they don’t understand why, what was going on, and why we jointly made that decision to have that space.’

Sarah says just a few days ago Marc demonstrated what she refers to as, ‘text book narcissism.’

‘He turned everything around as if he was the victim, telling me I’m a really nasty person, no one likes me, no one can believe who I’ve become,’ she explained. ‘I just sat there and listened.’

‘I didn’t say very much and when he finished, I just said, “Wow, that is absolute text book narcissism what you’ve just done. You’ve just turned the whole thing around.’

The therapist also goes on to say that since she has been home, Marc believes she has lost all of her compassion. 

‘The way that actually translates is that I have my boundaries and barriers up very high,’ she explained. ‘I am in self-protection mode.’

‘There’s a lot of tension about what will happen in the future – and what I want for myself. The standards I have set myself for what I want for my life have altered drastically over the last 18 months, and trying to navigate all of that is very difficult – especially because we’re now stuck in lockdown.’ 

‘Once lock down is over, I plan to carry on exploring this experiment of being able to work and travel.’     

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