Divorce is never easy, even if it is for the best for both parties. However, there are some situations where divorce can be especially challenging. One of those is if you are divorcing a narcissist. Because narcissists are totally focused on themselves in everything, they create problems and make the entire divorce process mentally and emotionally draining. The question then, is how do you get through that ordeal?
To begin, let’s look at what a narcissist is.
The definition if you look the word up in a dictionary, is a person who is extremely self-centred, manipulative, jealous of other’s success and displays a lack of conscience about the consequences of their actions. With that in mind, we can begin to understand the damage they can do during a divorce.
For most people, getting through a divorce means doing your best, trying to make it as easy as possible for both parties, and especially the children, if any are involved. Fewer than 5% of all divorces end up in court for a good reason; we don’t want the exposure, hassle and conflict.
If a couple can agree on nothing else, they can usually agree on that. But with a narcissist, things are very different. Staying out of court means mediation and compromise to agree to a settlement, and with a narcissist, none of that is truly possible.
They may seem like they are participating at first, but the nature of such personalities makes it virtually impossible for them to make the compromises necessary for an amicable agreement.
Understanding the driving force behind their behaviour can help you better understand what is going on and make it easier to cope with.
They are all about winning
Most of us see divorce as a no-win situation, but for a narcissist who will inevitably see themselves as a victim throughout, things are different. They will have no intention of compromise of any kind, instead of seeing everything in terms of being proven right.
To achieve this, they will do anything, and the truth will no longer have any bearing on the things they do or say. The object is to prove that you are the bad person, the underserving, hence they want everything, every asset, every responsibility such as custody of children.
They don’t recognise the emotional cost
However confrontational, upsetting and wearing they make the process through the lies and game-playing, the narcissist will remain focused on that end goal, winning on their terms. The emotional toll is taken on you, your children or anyone else involved is ignored in this quest for victory.
This is a problem; one of the things that compel even antagonistic partners to mediation and compromise rather than the court is empathy, not wanting to put others through the court process. With a narcissist, there are no such barriers. They do not even register the consequences for anyone else. This can be particularly devastating for children who become tools in the game.
They want you to give in completely
While the target is winning, the narcissist wants more. They want you to admit defeat, to give in completely, as a demonstration of their power over you.
There are ways to mitigate this behaviour, as long as you can see what is coming, so once you recognise your partner is a narcissist, take swift action.
Don’t get drawn in
From the start, don’t get drawn into arguments; this is exactly what they want. You may think that you can persuade with rational ideas and comments, but you really cannot. They will ignore this; they are not looking to hear your words and they just simply want to win.
As an example, you may argue that your children should stay with you because they drink excessively. A narcissist will invent a lie on the spot to counter. ‘You can’t have the kids because you are a shoplifter’ is the kind of response you get. It may have no basis in reality, but you spend energy arguing against it anyway, and that is how they try and wear you down.
The answer is to not engage with them at all. It really is not worth it. Accepting that is one of the hardest steps because you want to compromise, want to avoid court, want to get it over with. You are just aiding them, though. Only communicate through your legal representation.
Find the right representation
Divorcing a narcissist will need a good divorce lawyer. If you can find one that has experience of handling a divorce from a narcissist that would be even better. The challenges faced during a divorce from a narcissist means that you need someone who really understands the tactics that may be used, and who can develop a strategy to keep your divorce moving towards resolution.
This is especially important for divorces involving children, as narcissists will frequently try to delay custody hearings to maintain control.
We’ve already mentioned the ability to lie, and that included editing texts, emails and other documents to create a narrative about you. Keep copies of everything, share with your friends and legal team for corroboration. Record any conversations with the ex-partner. It is not a great way to have to think, but in every contact with them, always look for ways to protect yourself.
Make a plan
Develop a strategy with your legal representation. By the way, the assets are divided into responsibilities for the children, create a reasonable plan that treats both parties fairly, then stick to it. By presenting a fair offer, the unreasonableness of the narcissist is more prominent. However, the important thing is having a specific plan and leaving your lawyer to get you there. With that goal identified, you can avoid direct interaction with the narcissist as much as possible.
Take time for yourself
Finally, once it’s over, it’s very easy to start blaming yourself, wondering how you could ever have married someone like that. The thing about narcissists is that they can be very charming and great company when dating. Because you are the prize, and as with divorce, they want to win and will do whatever needed to make that happen.
So, the final point of divorcing a narcissist is to make yourself remember that it is really not your fault.
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