Divorcing is hard but when you are divorcing a narcissist, it's even harder.
But it won’t be just a fight; it will be the fight of your life. And I can all but guarantee you it won’t be a fair one. Whether your spouse exhibits narcissistic traits or suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you should hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
Here are five tips how:
1. Lawyer up.
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have skilled legal representation already in place before you begin divorce proceedings.
Narcissists will without remorse use abuse and manipulation to get what they want. And because your narcissist spouse knows you well, he or she will know exactly how to pinpoint your weaknesses and exploit them.
Retaining a lawyer will give you the hard boundary you need to walk away unscathed and victorious.
2. Gather your documents.
If you are preparing to divorce your narcissist spouse, try to get a hold of your financial information — investments as well as a list of your household expenses — before he or she realizes you are divorcing them.
Narcissists don’t like to be left, and once the cat is out of the bag, your spouse will not be eager to help you with your cause. Most likely, your narcissist spouse will do everything in his or her power to make your collection of financial information near impossible.
Get it while you can.
3. Write. It. Down.
Your spouse wants to pick up the kids after school? Send him or her an email confirming the arrangements. He or she verbally abused you after waiting five minutes in the driveway for the kids to come out? Make a note of it (and store your records where your spouse cannot find them).
Consider every word you say within the context of your divorce and what the potential is for those words to have an effect, whether positively or negatively, on the outcome of your case.
4. Leave your kids out of it.
When divorcing a narcissist, the only thing you can pretty much count on is that your spouse will play dirty. That means he or she will not think twice about using your children as pawns.
As the non-narcissist spouse, your mama or papa bear tendencies will be on heightened alert, and you may be tempted to push back. Don’t. That’s what a narcissist wants and expects you to do.
As with any and all of a narcissist’s attempts at controlling you, your best bet is to ignore them. And, as I emphasized in point three, make a record as you do.
5. Save your strength.
Think of divorcing your narcissist spouse in the same way you would if you were going off to war. Wars are not won overnight and require fighting multiple battles before finally declaring victory. That, too, is how you will prevail in your divorce — in increments.
A skilled divorce lawyer who has experience representing clients with a narcissist spouse will know how to handle your case in the systematic way it requires.
Every step you and your lawyer take during litigation — from the filing of your first motion up to and including a trial should it come to that — will strengthen your legal position and, at the same time, you.
Knowledge is power, which means when it comes to divorcing a narcissist, first recognizing the challenging opponent you face will not only be the key to your success but ultimately your freedom.