Essentially, you have to treat your ex as a grown-up version of a two-year-old.
Dear Dr. Romance,
I'm a victim of emotional and mental abuse by my hopefully soon-to-be-ex husband. The sad truth is that this person doesn't or refuses to recognize what he's doing and I'm very worry for my 8 years old son who I'm sharing 50% custody with the father.
I have recently found an article "Narcissistic Personality Disorder" by Joanna Ashmun which described my situation 150% and found a little comfort in the article.
Have you had experience with this disorder? Do you have any suggestions to help my son deal with his father's disorder until my son is older enough to understand/protect himself? Do you have any suggestions to help me deal with this person without going insane?
Thank you so very much for your time and assistance.
Remember when your son was two years old? Narcissistic Personality Disorder is essentially a person who never grew emotionally beyond age two. There are many possible reasons for this, but the most prevalent is having parents who never demanded that their child learn to control his temper and emotions.
This is what's going on with your soon-to-be-ex. Thank you for directing me to the website—it's very useful.
Essentially, you have to treat your ex as a grown-up version of a two-year-old. Give him specific choices, and re-direct him from his focus with them. For example; Don't say "Don't be late to pick up our son" Instead, say "Are you going to pick up our son from school, or from here?"
Remember that narcissists are run by seeking narcissistic supply. They always want validation that they're important, that they are in charge, that you will give them what they want. Therefore, to keep them on their best behavior, withhold emotionally.
A narcissist will not always behave well, no matter what you do, but he'll behave better more of the time if you are cool and distant.
He will also behave better if there are witnesses, so try to have a friend or relative around when you have to be in his presence. Don't let him think he's in charge, and don't try to placate him. When he misbehaves or loses his temper, get away from him, even if that means you have to leave your own house. In fact, it's better not to allow him in your house, for that reason.
As far as your son goes, it's vitally important that you not make excuses for his father. Your son will have to learn, sooner or later, that his father is incapable of truly loving him—in fact, narcissists often abandon their children, emotionally or physically.
So let him find out directly from his dad. Then, when he no longer wants to be around his dad, you can help him avoid contact. If your ex is supposed to see his son, and calls you to tell you he's not coming, give the phone to your son, and let him tell your son directly.
Keep a diary of your ex's behavior—when he misses his visitation dates, etc. If he leaves ranting or threatening phone messages, record them, including the date and time. The diary and the messages will be useful in court for gaining full custody eventually.
To keep yourself sane, you must drop expectations of reasonable or rational behavior from this man. He's neither. Have a backup plan for any time he's supposed to see your son, because he will become more and more irresponsible about it. For example, if he's to pick your son up at school, have a way for your son to contact you if his dad doesn't show.
If you don't oppose him or get upset about whatever happens with your son, he will eventually stop seeing your son most of the time. If you allow him to see that he can upset you by how he treats your son, then your son will become a tool he can use. You want to avoid that.
"Less Talk, More Action" "How to Keep Yourself Out of a Violent Relationship" "Coping with Critics" will give you the information you seek for dealing with your ex. It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction will help you understand how Narcissism develops and how to handle it.
For low-cost counseling, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was originally published at Dr. Romance Blog. Reprinted with permission from the author.