This is the second post in a sixteen part series on “Marriage with a Chronically Self-Centered Spouse.” In the first two posts we will examine two case studies to illustrate the severity of marital strain involved in chronic cases of self-centeredness.
A CASE STUDY
Eddie was good, but he was not nice at home. If you watched Eddie from a distance, you would see that he was successful at many (maybe most) of the things he did. If you heard Eddie speak to a group or in a private conversation, you would walk away impressed at his breadth of knowledge, quick wit, and convincing delivery.
This meant that most people who knew Eddie casually, liked Eddie. And most people who knew Eddie only knew him casually.. However, when something went wrong at home Eddie used his public popularity and success as “evidence” that he could not be the problem. This made things messy and volatile at home
Making matters worse, his quick wit and ever-confident demeanor overpowered his wife and children. Conflict that made them uncomfortable didn’t affect Eddie so he could talk circles around them. When they cried he told them they were too emotional. When they got angry he dismissed their words as irrational. He was unflappable, therefore, he won.
The same was true with counselors. On the couple of occasions his wife forced him to counseling, Eddie was talking about his “home turf.” When counselors asks questions, their information-deficiency was weakness he could use to put them on the defensive and convince himself the counselor had nothing of value to say to him.
If the counselor said Eddie was rude, harsh, or insensitive, then the counselor didn’t know him well enough to make that kind of “judgment” and was obviously just taking the side of the crying woman, as counselors always do. If the counselor tried to be neutral, then Eddie could move the conversation to his wife’s issues and then decide he was not upset enough to push counseling for those concerns.
Either way his wife was left alone. In the first case Eddie left counseling angry about how she tried to make him look awful – how could she disrespect him so, when he didn’t try to attack her. In the second case, she left thinking she was crazy and that the counselor did too.