4 ways to stay sane when divorcing a narcissist
In this article
You’ve seen the signs for years: The blaming, the crazy-making, the inability to accept responsibility for their own actions. While you may have put up with it for a while – Let’s face it, it does feel nice when you get showered with love or surprised with flowers and gifts even if you’ve recently been hurt by your partner – you know that you can’t live this way anymore.
You’re married to a narcissist, and you want a divorce.
Because of the unique, disordered way a narcissist’s brain works, divorcing one narcissist requires some special considerations and preparations. It won’t be easy, and it certainly won’t be fun, but you’ll be much better off on the other side of your divorce than by staying in the relationship.
To help you through this tough process, here are 4 things to remember to help you get through your divorce from a narcissist as emotionally intact as possible:
Don’t play the blame game
Even if your ex is the one who walked out the door, or who had an affair, somehow, some way, they will still make it your fault.
Resist getting into arguments of who is “at fault” for the divorce and instead focus on moving forward with all the steps that need to be taken.
If your ex begins to spiral into saying they deserve some asset or more time with your children because “this is all your fault,” do not engage. Instead of facing the accusation head-on, even to defend yourself, redirect the conversation back to the original point.
And if your ex won’t stop harping on you, end the conversation. Walk away if you’re talking face-to-face, or hang up the phone.
Find a therapist
While you may not feel as if you need a therapist, some of the flashbacks and lingering issues from your marriage may surprise you down the road.
Do you feel as if you’re constantly apologizing to people, even when you’ve done nothing wrong? Are you afraid to bring up potentially emotional or controversial topics with a loved one for fear of their response?
These are signs you have been emotionally damaged by your relationship with a narcissist.
Regardless of whether or not you feel or see the emotional toll placed on you by your prior relationship, a therapist can help you navigate your divorce. The therapist can be there as a sounding board, helping you gain clarity and peace in a time that feels as if everything’s up in the air.
One thing narcissists love to do is twist words. They take what was said and morph it to fit their view of the world, regardless of whether it’s the truth.
This can create a great deal of frustration and emotional stress, as you may feel that your ex is taking what you said, even years ago, and using it against you. When it comes to issues such as child custody, this twisting can lead to prolonged legal proceedings and great expense.
To prevent this from happening, limit your contact with your ex. If it is an issue that absolutely must be discussed, take it to email so you have a paper trail and can point back to what was said for clarification. If your ex calls and wants to talk about something over the phone, state that you are unavailable and to send you an email.
When you get an email that’s intended to make your blood boil (and you will get at least a few), wait before you respond. Allow yourself some time to cool down from the accusations so you can respond without emotion and ignore any accusations that are intended just to pick a fight.
Think of corresponding with your ex from now on like sending a business email: Be cordial but not overly friendly, and avoid saying things that will incite anger. Use as few words and sentences as possible to get your point across.
Pick Your Battles
A narcissist will try to find a way to pick a fight with every issue, no matter how small. Resist the urge to participate, because this will only lead to a longer legal process and higher attorney fees.
Save your fight for the big issues, such as who will be the primary custodian of your children, or who keeps the house, and let go of smaller things. To help you know better what’s worth fighting for and what’s OK to give on, hire a divorce attorney that will help look out for your best interests.
While you may feel ready to give up and let your ex have that extra time with the kids in the summer, your attorney may see the situation differently and can help advocate for what’s best for you and your children while giving you a bit of distance from dealing directly with your ex.
Compassionate Divorce Attorney in Washington, D.C.
At Lopez Law Firm, we’ve seen divorces of all shapes, sizes, and types, and our team is equipped to handle even the most complex of issues.
Divorce is a frightening, uncertain time that can leave you feeling emotionally worn down. You need an experienced, compassionate advocate to help you through the process. Schedule your divorce consultation today!