Unfortunately narcissism seems to be the buzz word in family law cases over the last few years. Many people going through divorce are too easily labelling their spouse a narcissist. This does a disservice to those people who are genuinely struggling with a narcissist.
Saying that, there are many who have realised that they have been a victim of narcissistic abuse during their marriage and now face the challenge of trying to divorce a narcissist.
Your spouse may have narcissistic traits…
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/gal
- A need to criticise 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
- Uses a facade 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
If you can relate to some if not all of the above, then yes your spouse could have narcissistic tendencies.
Being married to one is difficult. Divorcing a narcissist is worse.
I want to warn again against labelling or diagnosing your ex/spouse but if you are confident that your spouse demonstrates narcissist traits, then here is my advice on how to navigate your divorce…
What to do
1. Expect it to be stressful and expensive. I’m sorry but it is true when you have a very difficult spouse.
2. Get a good support team around you of professionals and friends/family.
3. Work with a counsellor who specialises in supporting victims of narcissistic abuse to get support and tools to manage the emotional aspects.
4. Work with an experienced divorce consultant or coach with expertise and knowledge about narcissism to help establish a good strategy for managing yourself in the legal process.
5. Be aware you will probably need to do parallel parenting rather than co-parenting
6. Remember they know what buttons to press to unnerve you. And they will press them.
7. Know the law is there to ensure you receive what you are legally entitled to and not just what your spouse says should happen.
8. Focus on your end goal of being divorced from your difficult spouse. There is life beyond divorce and it can be happy.
9. Stay strong and focussed. You can do this.
10. Remember not everyone is 100% bad or 100% good.
What not to do
1. Get fixated on labelling and diagnosing your spouse and expecting others to treat him/her differently because of it.
2. Think the legal process will “punish” your spouse financially or otherwise for their narcissistic abuse. (There are exceptions to this so take legal advice to find out if this includes your situation).
3. Allow yourself to be disappointed or frustrated in the divorce process when they behave as their normal self. If they are a narcissist, there’s no reason why they would suddenly change now.
4. Choose an aggressive lawyer as this will encourage your spouse to be aggressive themselves. Work with an experienced divorce solicitor who is strong, calm and assertive and works well with the other members of your professional support team.
5. Don’t waste time and energy getting frustrated, angry or upset that your spouse is being difficult. You’ll be mentally and emotionally exhausted in no time.
6. Remember they will want you to think they’ve won AND you’ve lost. This doesn’t have to be the reality though and be careful about it becoming a battle.
7. Forget they will press your buttons and push back harder when they feel they are losing control over you and/or the situation.
8. Don’t give in and over compromise on the financial settlement you reach, just to get the difficult legal process over with. Remember you will have to live with the decisions you’ve made.
9. Always think the worst will happen. You may be pleasantly surprised with how things turn out.
10. Forget the good parts of your ex’s personality.
If you have found the tips in this blog useful then you’ll find lots more in my eBooks, which you can purchase and download today.
If you’d like to work with me 1:1, for help preparing for your divorce/or support during or after the divorce process, please get in touch to find out how I can help.
Why I became a divorce consultant.