Divorcing a Narcissist
The divorce process isn’t easy for anyone, but when your spouse is particularly self-absorbed or narcissistic, the entire process can be especially challenging. A narcissist is a very extreme type of personality, often characterized by egotistical, arrogant, and unfeeling characteristics. Plenty of people can exhibit these behaviors every now and then – but for a narcissist, these are deep-seated aspects of their personality. Dealing with this personality type during simple arguments can be bad enough, but when you try to go through a divorce with a narcissist, their behaviors may make it all but impossible.
If you find yourself stuck in the divorce process with a narcissist, try following these tips to improve your situation.
Find a Support System
Your narcissistic spouse may try to drag your name through the dirt during the divorce process, painting you as the wrong-doer and refusing to allow any concessions. Unfortunately, there is little you can do to stop them from smearing your name or spreading their version of the truth to friends, family members, coworkers, and so on. The most important thing you can remember during this time is that you are getting out. When things get tough, make sure you have a solid, reliable support system to turn to. Your ex’s friends and family may believe what he or she says about you, but you have family and friends who want to support you, too. Focus on their love and support and remember that the people who matter know who you truly are, and they are ready to offer you the comfort and support you need.
It Isn’t a Competition, Even Though Your Spouse May Think So
Narcissists often see things in simple terms, and they might approach the divorce with a very competitive mentality. Remember, even if your spouse is attempting to “win,” your divorce is not a competition. Just because one person gets the house or is awarded spousal support, that doesn’t mean that spouse “wins.” Divorce is meant to be a process of give and take, where two lives that were joined are now split in a way that is equitable and fair. Going into it with this mentality is far healthier and more realistic than if you were to see it as your narcissistic spouse likely does.
Do Not Let Them Bait You
Most narcissistic personalities are hot and cold, often jumping back and forth between a whole slew of emotions. They could simply be reacting to whatever is happening in the moment, but they might also be trying to bait you into an argument. As easy as it would be to fall into this trap, try your hardest not to. Save all communication for your attorneys and the courtroom and avoid any unnecessary discussions about the divorce or anything else that could lead to a fight.
Also, make sure you keep thorough records of anything your spouse has said or agreed to. If he or she was ever verbally abusive or threatening, keep track of all correspondences that reveal their behavior. Text messages, emails, letters, voicemails, and other hard evidence could be used to help your case in court.
Remember What’s Important
The entire process of divorce can be emotionally overwhelming and stressful, so remind yourself why you’re doing it. Remember why you need to go through with this divorce and think of the most important things in your life. If you have children, try to focus more on their welfare rather than thinking about that nasty thing your spouse said the last time you spoke. It can be very hard to stay positive during this time, but it will help you stay focused on your goals.
Be Realistic About Parenting
If you share children with a narcissistic spouse, parenting together could be a very difficult challenge. Prepare yourself for what this could mean for you and your children. If your spouse is a fit parent and has no record of wrongdoing, it is very likely that you will share custody of your children. At the very least, you will have to work with your ex to coordinate visitation.
Work with your attorney to create a very detailed parenting plan as part of your divorce settlement, addressing any issues that may come up, such as who pays for medical expenses, saving for college, how holidays and vacations are handled, religious expectations, etc. You can address most parenting issues in the parenting plan and having those formalized will give you some control over how your children are co-parented.
And remember, as cooperative or sweet-talking as they may be when they want something, remember to stay level-headed and go into co-parenting with eyes wide open. The last thing you want is for your ex to take advantage of you, undercutting your role as a parent in the process. Instead, make sure you keep things as civil as possible but remain firm in the important things, prioritizing the needs of your kids.
Narcissistic personalities can be challenging to deal with on a normal basis, let alone in a divorce. If you need help divorcing your narcissistic husband or wife, our firm can help.Contact McKinley Irvin at our Washington office to discuss your divorce case with our attorneys.