Being married to a narcissist is hard enough. And divorce narcissist is nothing easier.
According to some reports, around 50% of marriages today ends in divorce. However, many couples find constructive ways of handling the divorce. Some of them use mediation or work it out themselves. That way they minimize the stress of the whole situation. This doesn’t work if you married a narcissist, though.
What Makes your Spouse a Narcissist?
A narcissist personality, by definition is a kind of personality disorder characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-worth, an extreme need for admiration and a lack of understanding of other people’s feelings.
According to some research, the men and women narcissist ratio is 2:1. That is, on every female narcissist come two men with the same personality disorder.
Your partner, however, doesn’t need to be diagnosed with NPD (Narcissist Personality Disorder). However, they can still have some of the narcissist personality traits that make your marital happiness impossible.
A few years ago I worked with a client, Isabela, who spent years married to a man that was manipulative, demanding, arrogant and self-orientated. He would always put his needs first. Always blamed on the others and had excuses for his actions. Always knew the best. Furthermore, he lacked empathy for his partner’s feelings and needs. He would never listen what she has to say or pay attention to her feelings. He was demanding and controlling. Emotionally abusive.
He would make fun of her in front of their friends and family for her ideas or simply her appearance. She finally realized there is nothing she can do to save her marriage and decided to file for divorce.
When their marriage has come to the end, she realized that her husband’s characteristics will be an obstacle in the divorce process as well. The divorce process was long and painful. They did finalize it in the end. However, it cost her a lot of time, nerves and money.
It is hard to go through a divorce experience straightforward when you’re divorcing a narcissist. The narcissist feels entitled to win. And to win, they will do anything. Therefore, you need to know what to expect. That way you can plan your strategy to protect yourself (and your dependents).
Here some useful tips and tools to help you keep your sanity while divorcing a narcissist
1. Don’t Get Trapped
First thing when you are divorcing a narcissist: do not allow yourself to get trapped by your ex’s net of guilt and blame. Don’t feel the pressure to defend yourself. He or she will do anything to involve you in endless arguments and accusations. Try not to be fooled by their attempts.You don’t need to defend, justify or explain yourself. Just stick to the facts and try not to engage in the unnecessary conversation.
Don’t respond to their attacks. Don’t let your ex to engage you into an endless battle. Because if you do, your narcissist ex-partner will feel that he or she still has a power over you.
2. Stick to No-Drama Communication Style
Narcissists love drama. During the divorce process, your ex will most likely want to involve in that drama. Although is hard, try to ignore their sarcasm, anger and hostility.
Resist the impulse to engage in the drama your ex is creating. Stay calm and composed. Take some time before your answer to your ex’s emails or messages. Count to ten before you answer his or hers phone calls. Or forward their messages to your lawyer. That’s what you pay them for, anyways.
3. Don’t Take It Personally
Don’t allow yourself to be hurt by what your narcissist ex says about you. You are probably used to her/his tendency to project their own faults into others. So, don’t react to insults, accusations and foul language they might be using against you.
Furthermore, a narcissist may show a false concern for you and/or the children. However, this is probably another sign that he/she is trying to manipulate you.
Narcissist always believes nothing is his/her fault. So, they will try to blame you for everything. Again, stay collected and don’t waste your time on reflecting what he or she thinks about you.
4. Explain Your Kids What’s Happening
The divorce situation definitely gets more complicated if you have kids together. It is all right to let your children know what is happening (taking their ages into consideration, of course). If they are old enough to understand, tell them your side of the story.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should speak badly about your ex in front of your children. Answer the questions they might ask you sincerely and openly. Explain your reasons for divorce as clear as you can. Let them know that both, you will always love them and be there to support and protect them. Make sure your children know that the divorce is not, by any means, their fault.
5. Set the Firm Boundaries
Set limits for phone calls, messages and social media. Unfriend your ex-partner on social media and do not allow them to control who are you seeing or talking to. Don’t make too many compromises or accept arrangements that don’t work in your favor.
Remember, your narcissist ex likes to control everything. He is used to exploiting you to meet his own needs. Let him know that he cannot abuse and control you anymore.
6. Build a Strong Support System
Surround yourself with the people who love you and understand you. Spend a weekend with your family or go out for dinner with close friends. Do relaxing and fun things together. This will distract you from your stressful divorce situation and help you gain strength for your ‘battle’.
However, you don’t have to discuss the details of the divorce with your friends and family. Although they mean well, they probably won’t understand the complexity of your situation. So share as much as you feel comfortable with.
7. Take Care of Yourself
You will most likely feel exhausted while divorcing a narcissist. So don’t forget about the self-care. Eat regularly and make sure you get enough hours of sleep daily. Exercise, go for long walks and hang out with your friends.
Spend as much time as possible doing things you like.
This will help you recharge your batteries and remind you of the good things in your life. Try not to talk about your narcissist ex and the divorce to much when you are with friends. If you are not coping with the divorce, seek a therapy or counseling.
8. Keep the Records of Relevant Documents
Make sure that you document everything divorce related. A narcissist may have tendency not to tell the truth. That’s why is very important that you make copies of all the important documents and relevant correspondence.
In addition, don’t have a conversation with your narcissist ex anywhere other than in writing. Otherwise, she/he will turn your words upside down in front of the judge. Keeping a record of the important documentation and communication is the only way to ensure fair play during the divorce process.
9. Don’t Expect Your Narcissist Ex’s Cooperation
Don’t expect your ex-spouse to co-parent. Maintain your boundaries firm and clear. Do not let your narcissist ex to manipulate you by saying how much he misses you and the kids and wants to spend holidays or birthdays together.
Keep your life completely separate from your ex’s and organize family celebrations separately. Make sure that your children feel supported and loved when they are with you.
Also, don’t expect your ex to be cooperative during the divorce process. Remember, a narcissists believes that he is above the law and feels that the rules don’t apply to him. As always, your narcissist ex-partner will probably feel entitled to bully, control or manipulate you during the divorce procedure. Remember, they always perceive themselves as victims.
During the divorce process, your narcissist ex may refuse to negotiate, provide important documentation or may disobey court orders. Be prepared for this so you don’t lose your nerves during the course of the divorce.
10. Hire a Good Divorce Attorney
Make sure you find an experienced family or marriage lawyer who knows how to handle the uniqueness of your situation. A top-notch one who will not respond to your ex’s drama or advise you to defend yourself from the narcissist’s allegations.
Also, you want to make sure that you choose a lawyer who will get a fair settlement for you and your children. So, look for the attorneys with good references, make a list and hire the one you feel is the best fit for your situation.
Divorce is a harsh experience in itself. Having an ex that is a narcissist makes it a thousand times harder. You need to gather your strengths. Use the support system. Find an experienced therapist or marriage counselor. It will be over eventually. However, you want to make sure to get there sane.