Dealing with a Narcissist in a Divorce
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn

Living with a narcissist is difficult. If your spouse is a narcissist, it’s safe to say that’s a major factor leading to the downfall of your marriage. Going through a divorce with a narcissist can be scary. They know everything about you. A narcissistic spouse in divorce can twist facts and manipulate others into thinking you are the bad spouse. 

A narcissist can be a nightmare to live with and a nightmare to leave. Your best option is to contact a competent divorce attorney. They will help you develop legal strategies for divorcing a narcissist.

What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a man who fell in love with his reflection and would stare at himself. Narcissists are vain individuals who are obsessed with themselves and believe themselves superior.

But narcissism can also be more than just a vain and obnoxious character. It can be a disorder called narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

Signs and Symptoms of NPD

There are nine signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder. A medical professional diagnoses an individual with NPD if they exhibit five of the nine signs and symptoms. They include:

  1. Having a constant need for attention;
  2. Using others for their own gain;
  3. Having an inflated sense of self-importance or self-worth;
  4. Believing they are privileged over others;
  5. Having the inability to understand or connect with others;
  6. Being obsessed with power, success, intelligence, and beauty;
  7. Believing they are of high status and having the desire to associate with other people of high status;
  8. Being arrogant or conceited; and
  9. Being jealous of others or having the belief others are jealous of them.

If you recognize at least five of these signs and symptoms in your spouse, you might be married to a narcissist.

Marriage to a Narcissist

Your relationship with your spouse wasn’t always a whirlwind of chaos. When you met your spouse, they were probably charismatic, caring, and selfless.

But once you married them, everything changed.

Now, it seems you can never do anything right for them. Your spouse doesn’t care about your or anyone else’s problems or emotional well-being. They believe the world revolves around them.

Understand that for a narcissist, nothing is ever their fault. They are never the bad spouse in the marriage. In their eyes, they will always be the victim.

You are breaking the chain of disaster by recognizing their toxic behavior. It won’t be easy to divorce them. You need to keep telling yourself that if you stay married to them, nothing will change. If you divorce them, you will be free.

Divorcing a Narcissist

A narcissist’s goal is to maintain a perfect image and reputation. A divorce shatters that perfect appearance they worked so hard to create.

Your narcissistic spouse does not want to look like a lesser person. They have a constant need to win everything and be the hero of their story. So they will try several tactics during the divorce to maintain this charade.

Don’t Expect an Easy Divorce

Many divorces in New York are uncontested and are resolved amicably out of court. These spouses compromise on the division of assets, time with the kids, and alimony and child support payments.

Your narcissistic spouse will probably not make divorce easy for you. They may argue over every little detail, from the house to the kids to the couch.

They Will Threaten You

A narcissistic spouse desires control. If you leave them, you become your own person. That control they crave shatters.

A narcissistic spouse may threaten you. Here are common tactics they will use to deter you from divorcing them:

  • They will claim you don’t know how the system works, but they do;
  • They will say they will take all the money, and you won’t get a dime;
  • They will threaten to take the kids; or
  • They will threaten that you and the kids will be on the street without them.

Standing your ground and protecting children from a narcissistic parent are your priorities. Your narcissistic spouse is trying to scare you with these threats. But just because they say things will turn out badly for you doesn’t mean they will. A divorce lawyer can explain the divorce system to you and help you get the outcome you deserve.

They Will Show You Attention

A narcissist does not like to give others attention. They want to be the center of attention. But when you try to leave them, they will change. They will be like when you first met and fell in love with them.

They will shower you with love and affection. They will tell you how they will be different. They will make you fall in love with them all over again. They will try to win you back. 

But know that once you go back to them, they will return to being the narcissistic spouse again.

Delay Divorce Proceedings

A narcissistic spouse in divorce will attempt to delay the proceedings. They can:

  • Lie about their income,
  • Hide assets,
  • Refuse to respond to calls and emails about the divorce,
  • Fail to provide requested documents,
  • Refuse to pay already-agreed-on alimony or child support, and
  • Disobey court orders.

These tactics can wear you down and drain your finances. 

Legal Strategies for Divorcing a Narcissist

There are specific strategies that can aid you in your divorce with a narcissist.

Choosing the Right Lawyer

You can’t just choose any family lawyer to help you divorce your narcissistic spouse. The lawyer you choose should have experience in divorces where the spouse has a personality disorder. If they don’t have experience, the lawyer may struggle to handle your narcissistic spouse.

It would help if you visited many family divorce lawyers before deciding. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their record and whether they have dealt with cases where there was a narcissistic spouse. Ask what resources they have and if they have any medical professionals they may work with.

Keep a Written Record

A narcissist needs others to see their life as perfect. So a narcissistic spouse in divorce will deny anything that paints them in a bad light. They twist anything you say to make you sound like the unreasonable, crazy spouse. They are expert liars and master manipulators.

So you must keep documentation about everything. This documentation can be used to counter any lie your narcissistic spouse might create.

Don’t Be Alienated

A narcissist needs to be viewed as superior. So they will spin the divorce narrative in their favor. Your spouse will try to turn your family and friends against you. They will paint you as a demanding, temperamental spouse while they are the reasonable and innocent spouse.

Don’t let them vilify you. That’s what they want. They want you without a support system. This gives them power, which is one of the goals of a narcissist.

So before you notify your spouse of the divorce, tell your trusted circle of family and friends. Let them know why you can’t stay married to your spouse.

When your narcissistic spouse tries to vilify you, you won’t lose your support system because you got to them first.

Keep Calm

Your spouse will try to get in your head. Their goal is to make you feel worthless and unreasonable. They will try gaslighting techniques. They will make you think all the problems are in your head and never happened. They will make you second-guess all the reasons you want a divorce.

This is part of their act. A narcissist cannot cope with criticism or humiliation.

So don’t overreact. Narcissists thrive off drama. Remember you are divorcing them to gain control of your life.

You need to keep this attitude after the divorce as well. Coping with a narcissistic ex is equally challenging. 

Be Prepared for the Cost

Because narcissists often employ delay tactics, be prepared for this divorce to be expensive. Your narcissistic spouse may feel the need to argue over every detail because they cannot be wrong. Let your lawyer know this so you can develop a budget.

Give Them a Win

Narcissists love to win. They will drag out every dispute if they can. To keep the peace and save money, try letting them win inconsequential battles.

It’s ok to lose some battles. Save your energy and resources to fight the ones that truly matter.

Seek Expert Legal Guidance Today

Deciding on a divorce means you listened to your wake-up call. You realize you are better off without your narcissistic spouse.George Miller has over two decades of legal experience. He and his team of trusted divorce lawyers can help free you from your narcissistic spouse. Contact the Gilmer Law Firm, PLLC, for a free phone consultation.