If you’re married to a narcissist, you’ve probably already been through the ringer. From circular arguments that never seem to end, to walking on eggshells and finding it impossible to accommodate them, you may be aware that narcissism is as much a personality disorder as it is a relationship killer.
When you decide to divorce, you’re likely to face an entirely new set of challenges. Divorce is rarely an easy thing to do, and when narcissism informs the person you’re trying to divide property, coordinate financial matters, and split custody with, you might find yourself banging your head against a wall by the end of it.
Unfortunately, some people aren’t prepared for the rollercoaster ride of divorcing a narcissist. There are strategies for handling it, but they require understanding the circumstances. The following are three things you should keep in mind before and during your divorce trial:
- Gender can play a role – although people of any gender can be a narcissist, men are twice as likely as women to have narcissistic personalities or disorders. However, women file for divorce at a higher rate than men. This is important to keep in mind, because women typically end up with a less desirable outcome than men after a divorce. Women up against a narcissistic husband should keep in mind that the divorce battle may be longer or more contentious.
- Compromise will be difficult – a narcissistic spouse is likely to lash out during the divorce at all of its stages, and create additional tension or fighting. Compromise is an important part of a divorce, and when one spouse refuses to see anything outside of his own perspective, it can create significant difficulties. A skillful attorney will play an important role in helping you get to the legal basics and separate emotions from entitlements.
- You might take a lot of blame – the narcissist you’re divorcing is likely to project a lot of anger and pre-concocted defenses at you. You may even find yourself being blamed for the very things you wanted to divorce over. Manipulation can throw off your sense of reality in this type of scenario, so it’s critical to have strong documentation and focus on the goals you’d like to see happen. Be ready to make a few concessions that may be uncomfortable if your ex-spouse won’t budge on them.
You’ll need support from an outside source, such as a therapist or close friends you can confide in. It’s important to keep yourself as healthy as possible and find ways to cope that can allow you to be clearheaded when it’s time to confront the narcissist in court.
Divorcing a narcissist can even start to seem like too much work to follow through with, but you’re likely to be much happier and more relieved once you finalize your divorce.