Sarah had been married to John for 10 years, but it felt like a lifetime. John was charming and charismatic, but he also had a dark side. He was manipulative and controlling and had an insatiable need for attention and admiration.
Sarah had tolerated his behavior for years, but she had finally reached her breaking point. She knew that she needed to divorce John, but she was scared. She knew divorcing a narcissist would be difficult, but she was determined to protect herself and her children.
In this blog, a Wilmington divorce attorney from Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division, will share strategies for divorcing a narcissist during this challenging time. If you're in a similar situation, know you're not alone; help is available. Call (910) 769-7339 today to schedule your case evaluation. Who speaks for you? We do!
Expect Narcissistic Rage
Before we share strategies for divorcing your narcissistic spouse, you must be prepared to be a target of their narcissistic rage. Narcissistic rage can be triggered by anything the narcissist perceives as threatening their self-worth, such as sharing damaging information about their behavior or suggesting therapy.
Divorcing a narcissist can be incredibly challenging because it can represent a significant blow to their self-esteem. Prioritizing your emotional well-being and protecting yourself during this difficult time is critical. This may include cutting off contact with the narcissist and seeking support from professionals who can help you navigate the situation more effectively.
If children are involved, work with an attorney who can ensure that your parenting rights are protected. A narcissistic spouse may attempt to deprive you of these rights through manipulation or other tactics, so having a fierce legal advocate on your side is essential.
Strategy 1: Document Everything
Dealing with a narcissistic spouse can be challenging, so take steps to protect yourself. One of the best things you can do is document everything. Here are some tips on how to do it effectively:
Keep a Journal
Write down any incidents that occur, including dates, times, and what was said or done.
Save Emails and Text Messages
If your spouse sends you abusive or threatening messages, save them as evidence.
If possible, record any conversations you have with your spouse. This can be helpful if they deny saying or doing something later on.
Keep Financial Records
Make copies of bank statements, credit card bills, and other financial documents. This can help protect you if your spouse tries hiding assets during a divorce.
If possible, have someone else present when you interact with your spouse. This can provide additional evidence if needed.
Strategy 2: Avoid Emotional Triggers
A narcissist often uses emotional triggers to manipulate and control their partner. Be aware of your own emotional triggers and avoid engaging in behavior that may provoke the narcissist.
Example: Avoid discussing any personal weaknesses or vulnerabilities with your spouse. A Narcissist exploits any weaknesses or vulnerabilities their partner may have to gain control over them.
So, keep any personal vulnerabilities private and do not engage in discussions that might expose them. This can include not discussing personal financial struggles or relationship issues with your narcissistic spouse, as they may use this information to manipulate or control the situation.
Strategy 3: Hire an Experienced Wilmington Divorce Attorney
Hiring an experienced Wilmington divorce attorney is essential when divorcing a narcissist. A skilled attorney will understand the situation's complexities and provide guidance and support throughout the proceedings.
When hiring an attorney, look for someone with experience with high-conflict divorces who understands how to deal with a narcissistic personality. Choose an attorney who communicates effectively and will be your advocate and speak for you. You can read more about hiring a North Carolina divorce attorney in a blog post here.
Strategy 4: Prioritize Self-Care
Divorce proceedings can be emotionally draining, especially when dealing with a narcissist. Prioritizing self-care is essential to maintain your physical and emotional well-being. Self-care can include activities such as exercise, meditation, and therapy. We recommend maintaining a support system of family and friends who can provide emotional support during this difficult time.
Strategy 5: Maintain Boundaries
Narcissists often try to control those around them, even during a divorce. Maintain boundaries to protect yourself and your interests. This may include setting limits on communication, refusing to engage in arguments or manipulation, and seeking legal protection if necessary.
Strategy 6: Communicate Effectively
Effective communication is crucial when divorcing a narcissist. Communicate in a way that is clear, concise, and non-confrontational. Avoid engaging in arguments or emotional outbursts, which can influence the narcissist's need for control. Instead, focus on sticking to the facts and communicating your needs and concerns calmly and rationally.
Strategy 7: Be Prepared for Court
While resolving all divorce proceedings outside of court may be ideal, this can be especially difficult when dealing with a narcissistic spouse. Narcissists often reject compromise because it does not align with their need for control and superiority. As a result, collaborative methods or mediation may be unlikely to succeed, as negotiating with a narcissist can be challenging.
Here are some of the ways your Wilmington divorce attorney will prepare you for court:
Your attorney will work with you to develop a legal strategy that takes into account the specific circumstances of your case, including the behavior of your narcissistic spouse.
Your attorney will review any evidence you have gathered and help you prepare to present it in court.
Your attorney may conduct mock trials or practice sessions to help you prepare for testifying in court. This can help you feel more confident and prepared during the actual trial.
Prepare for Cross-Examination
Your attorney will help you prepare for cross-examination by the narcissistic spouse's attorney. This may include discussing potential questions or tactics that may be used and helping you develop effective responses.
Discuss Potential Outcomes
Your attorney will discuss the potential outcomes of the trial and help you understand what to expect. This can help you prepare emotionally and mentally for the proceedings.
FAQs About Divorcing a Narcissist
Q: What is a narcissist?
A: A narcissist has an inflated sense of self-importance, lacks empathy for others, and craves attention and admiration.
Q: How do I know if my spouse is a narcissist?
A: Some signs that your spouse may be a narcissist include constantly seeking attention, lacking empathy, being manipulative, having an exaggerated sense of self-importance, and being unwilling to take responsibility for their actions.
Q: What makes divorcing a narcissist different from divorcing anyone else?
A: Divorcing a narcissist can be more difficult because they may try to manipulate or control the process to maintain their power and control over you.
Q: How can I prepare myself mentally for the divorce process?
A: Prioritize your mental health by seeking support from friends, family, or a therapist, and educate yourself on what to expect during the divorce process to feel more prepared.
Q: Can I expect my spouse to cooperate during the divorce?
A: It's unlikely that your spouse will cooperate during the divorce if they are a true narcissist. They may try to manipulate or control the situation to maintain their power over you.
Q: Will my spouse use our children against me during the divorce process?
A: Your spouse may try to use your children as leverage against you during the divorce process if they are true narcissists. Work with an attorney who can help protect your parental rights.
Q: Can I expect my spouse to become violent during the divorce?
A: If your spouse has exhibited past violent behavior or has threatened violence, they may become violent during the divorce process. Take steps to protect yourself by working with an experienced attorney and seeking support from law enforcement if necessary.
Q: How do I move on after divorcing a narcissistic spouse?
A: Moving on after divorcing a narcissistic spouse requires patience, self-love, therapy, a support system, setting boundaries, focusing on personal growth and development, finding new hobbies/interests, etc.
Divorcing a Narcissist? Call a Wilmington Divorce Attorney Who Speaks for You!
If you are divorcing a narcissist, you must prioritize your emotional well-being and protect yourself and your children during the proceedings. Working with experienced Wilmington divorce attorneys who understand the challenges of divorcing a narcissistic spouse and can advocate for your rights can help you successfully navigate the challenges so you can move forward with your life.
Divorce is challenging enough without the added stress of dealing with a narcissistic spouse. Who speaks for you? We do. Call (910) 769-7339 today to schedule your case evaluation with divorce lawyers in Wilmington, NC, at Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division, or complete our online form.
Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division
300 N. 3rd St. Suite 310
Wilmington, NC 28401