An increasing number of clients are coming to me, saying that they have recognised narcissistic personality disorder traits in their spouse and are worried about how best to deal with this during their divorce/separation.
The client desperately wants to keep things civil and avoid high legal fees but feels helpless to negotiate the terms of their separation with their estranged spouse due to their controlling and manipulative personality.
I have read a really interesting article by Cathy Meyer, an American Divorce Coach called “Surviving Emotionally While Divorcing A Narcissist”. Amongst other things, the article sets a useful list of the characteristics of a narcissist…
What are the characteristics of a narcissist?
- Has a need for admiration,
- A need to be right,
- A need to be seen as the good guy,
- A need to criticize when you don’t meet their need,
- Is charismatic and successful,
- Lacks the ability to feel remorse,
- Has no conscience,
- Has a tremendous need to control you and the situation,
- Have values which are situational…if you believe infidelity is wrong, so do they,
- Uses a façade of caring and understanding to manipulate,
- Is emotionally unavailable,
- Nothing is ever their fault,
- Hangs onto resentment,
- Has a grandiose sense of self,
- Feels misunderstood,
- Is not interested in solving marital problems, it is their way or the highway,
- Is envious of other’s success,
What are the challenges of divorcing a narcissist?
Getting a divorce is stressful enough but getting divorced from someone with narcissistic personality traits has additional challenges. Many people worry that they will not be dealing with someone who will behave and think rationally or who will want to keep things amicable.
My personal experience of narcissistic personality disorder
Having realised some years ago that I had been affected by narcissistic behaviour, I decided to further research this complex personality and plan ways in which I could use my understanding and experience to benefit my divorce clients who were/had been in narcissistic abusive relationships.
How a divorce consultant can help when you are divorcing a narcissist
The work I do to assist people affected by narcissistic abuse who are going through divorce can include;
1. Help to build a strong support system for the legal process
Before embarking on a divorce with a narcissistic partner/spouse, it is vital to have in place a strong support system. This should include good friends/family support, a counsellor specialising in support for narcissistic abuse and a divorce consultant such as myself.
2. Create a strategy or how best to approach the legal case
Amongst other things this can involve adopting the appropriate tone of communication etc. (I can assist the client and help guide the solicitor, if necessary).
3. Find a good divorce solicitor
An experienced family law specialist solicitor is of course important and their role is to provide strong and clear legal advice and representation throughout your case. It is unlikely you will find a solicitor who holds themselves out as specialising in narcissistic abuse. This is not a problem. What you want from your solicitor is for them to be an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer who is calm and assertive. Most will have had experience in dealing with the challenging personalities of spouses.
4. Provide general support and guidance throughout the divorce journey and beyond
I can apply both my personal knowledge and experience of this difficult and complex personality type, together with my experience of the family law legal process(having previously worked as a family lawyer).
What a divorce consultant cannot do if you are divorcing a narcissist
This is a complex personality and there is no quick fix for dealing with or recovering from narcissistic abuse. As a divorce consultant, I always remind my clients that I can’t…
1. Provide you with a directory of solicitors who hold themselves out as specialists of narcissism.
This does not exist. Some family law specialist solicitors may well have experience in dealing with this type of personality, but please remember they are legal specialists and not psychiatrists or psychologists. You will be hiring their professional services as a lawyer, not a therapist. Make sure you seek therapeutic support from a trained counsellor.
2. Provide you with a magic solution to fix your spouse’s behaviour
I wish I could! Unfortunately though this is not possible. We have no control over how your spouse decides to behave BUT I can help you (hopefully with the added input from your therapist) to manage their behaviour to reduce the impact their bad behaviour has on you.
3. Ensure you receive financial compensation in the divorce settlement because you have suffered from emotional abuse from your spouse.
The law in England and Wales does not provide for the possibility of financial remuneration for one of the parties having been the victim of an abusive relationship. Many clients think they will not receive the financial settlement they are legally entitled to because their spouse is so controlling. With a good legal team in place, there is every chance you will receive the best financial settlement possible. The law is in charge not your controlling spouse!
Stay strong and do what you can to protect yourself from the emotional damage this personality type can cause. Family breakdown and divorce/separation is a difficult time, let alone when you are trying to deal with the narcissistic personality of your estranged spouse. Remember, you cannot change them but you can change how you respond to their behaviour.
Working with a divorce consultant can provide you with the support you need and deserve during the divorce process. To find out more, get in touch with me here.
If you have found the tips in this blog useful then you will find lots more in my ebook “Tips for Coping with Divorce” which you can download here: download ebook
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