Isn’t it hard enough to deal with a narcissist under the best of circumstances? Try divorcing one. As you can learn in this post, narcissists often lack any sense of loyalty even to family members, and if you’re initiating a divorce, that makes you a traitor in their eyes.
For the narcissistic husband, divorce is a game that he will play to win. In the first place, he has to reframe it in this manner or it might be a symbol of failure—and narcissists cannot admit failure. In the second place, he must prove his superiority not only to you but also to the court and everyone else involved. You must navigate these treacherous waters with care.
Read on for some specific advice on how to handle your liberating divorce from a narcissistic husband.
Surviving the Journey
A narcissist will always make any situation about himself. He will want to thrust himself into the center of the action and prove to everyone how much better he is than you. It is up to you to maintain a professional front and emotional stability. Here are seven tips for doing just that.
1. Avoid Emotional Entanglement
Your narcissistic husband will immediately devolve into his demeaning and critical self. He will treat you with scorn and try to vilify your every action. It is his mission to make you look bad, especially if there are children and custody involved. He will hit you where it is certain to hurt the most.
You must stay above this fray and refrain from slinging any mud back. If you remain calm, cool, and emotionally detached, then the court will notice your restraint. You’ll escape relatively unscathed, while he will appear to be emotionally stunted and psychologically damaged.
2. Keep Communication Formal
Avoid talking directly to your soon-to-be-ex whenever possible. Communicate through your lawyers or mediators as much as possible. Because the narcissist is incredibly skilled at manipulation, he will try to twist both your words and your emotions if you engage him directly.
If you absolutely must speak one-on-one with your husband, then use a professional resource to provide documentation and management of the conversation. There are services online that will record transcripts of conversations and exchanges of electronic documents so that no exaggerations or outright lies can be proliferated. This clearly protects your interests.
3. Document Everything
In line with the above advice, make sure that you keep records of everything, even if it may not seem all that important at the time. The narcissist is masterful at manipulating the circumstances of events to make himself look better. He will readily lie about timelines, events, finances, and parenting given even the slightest chance.
Go beyond keeping track of the obvious documents, like financial statements and asset allocations. Also keep a log of how much time you spend with the children versus how much time he spends with the children. Or, how many business or personal trips were taken. Even noting the content and time of a phone call could eventually become important.
4. Anticipate His Charm
Remember why you fell in love with your narcissistic husband in the first place. He can be quite charming, as you well know. Anticipate that, when necessary, your husband will employ the full force of his charm to get his way in court.
It may appear obvious to you that his behavior has been inappropriate, even abusive, but you cannot allow yourself to be complacent about this. The court might see things otherwise, especially given your husband’s capacity to stretch the truth and to assert his superiority. Make sure that you and your counsel have a plan should he launch a charm offensive.
5. Stay Focused and Refuse to Capitulate
While the ugly realities of going through a divorce can be overwhelming and exhausting, don’t lose focus on the endgame. Remember that there are very good reasons why you are going through with the divorce. You will, in the end, feel liberated and whole again, after some healing.
Your narcissistic husband wants you to give in. He will try to break you down, drag you through slanderous falsehoods, and bog down the machinations of the court if he feels that it’s to his advantage to do so. Stay strong and do not capitulate. Now is not the time to allow his gaslighting techniques to work on you. If all else fails, you might also consider using these tried and true ways to get a narcissist to leave you alone.
6. Seek Out Support
Nobody can get through a messy divorce without some support. In your position, it’s even more important to seek out friends, family, and even professionals to help you through this difficult time. You need reassurance that you are doing the right thing and that you are not, as he may try to paint you, crazy or incompetent.
This is also a way in which you can hold yourself accountable. Your support group will nudge you forward when you feel like giving up, and they will give you strength when he behaves in malicious ways. Don’t allow your emotions—which you are repressing in front of him and the court—get too backed up or they will burst out of you at the wrong time.
7. Hire an Experienced Professional
Finally, be sure you do some research before you hire a lawyer. You want someone who is experienced at dealing with narcissists in divorce court. There are many attorneys with this kind of experience, so don’t be tempted by overly aggressive lawyers who might not have the chops to handle a narcissist.
Even if you hire a lawyer who has worked with narcissists before, you need to take care to apprise her of all of the details of your marriage and his behavior. While narcissists share many common characteristics, there are always details specific to individuals. The more the lawyer knows about his history, the better able they are to protect you in this process.
Getting divorced from a narcissistic husband may be a messy business, but ultimately it will be a fulfilling one. You will move on with your life without having to suffer at the self-centered and often cruel whims of your partner.
Following some of the advice above will help you do that in a way that benefits you the most. Don’t waste your energy on him any longer. Expend it on healing yourself.
Divorcing a narcissistic spouse is likely one of the hardest things you will ever have to do in your life. A free copy of my “Narcissistic Rejection Guide” can help. You will learn how to say no and even push back against his manipulative tactics. Just click on the link and I’ll send it directly to your inbox for free!
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