Narcissa Malfoy is an interesting character, and does well to balance Lucius, but she hasn't always been with him. As a Black Narcissa would have grown up with two sisters who are both strongly opinionated women. Each were able to give up their lives as they knew it for what they believed to be right. (Andromeda giving up the rich pureblood life to marry a muggle and Bellatrix giving up the same to go to jail even after the Dark Lord fell the first time). I don't believe that Narcissa would be very different from her sisters, but she's found a third way of getting what she wants.
Narcissa isn't content to sit back and let things happen to her, or allow others to control her. I imagine that she saw her sisters stepping out of the predefined female role in pureblood society and has seen the consequences time and time again. So she's done all she can to gain power while still maintaining a delicate role, with most of her power concentrated behind the scene. I can imagine that as times have changed, and society has become less traditional she has grown far more frustrated with her position in life as she sees more opportunity for change outside of the classic female roles.
Narcissa strikes me as power-hungry and competitive but not to the same extent her husband is. Having a family would have helped to soften her edges a touch. I don't know that she's ever truly loved someone unconditionally until Draco, and she's so unfamiliar with the feeling that she doesn't know how to act, so she spoils him rotten.