When you realise that you married a narcissistic partner and you want a clean sweep to get on with your life, divorce is likely to be at the top of your agenda.
Unfortunately, just as your relationship has been toxic you can expect divorcing your narcissistic partner to be filled with just as much conflict and drama, if not more so.
The good news is that there are ways you can manage the divorce process to make the conflict easier to handle despite your partner being as selfish and self-serving as possible.
Here are 4 ways I advise my clients to use when dealing with this kind of toxic behaviour to manage their divorce as easily as possible.
1. Learn to establish firm boundaries with your narcissistic partner during the divorce process
You know that your partner can be controlling, manipulative and demanding to get what they want. This behaviour is likely to get worse when they realise you want to divorce. You’re taking yourself away from them and that can be a crushing blow to many narcissists, and one they are likely to resist, especially if it makes them feel humiliation and/or a loss of control.
When my client Phillip told his wife he was leaving, she did everything she could to convince him that he was waking out on not just her, but on these kids as well. He had to work so hard not to swallow the guilt and remind himself why he is leaving. It’s crucial not to get caught up in the drama they will try to create and stay focused on the task at hand
It’s important that you set firm boundaries and stick to them. Try to avoid direct communication where you can and talk through your solicitors instead. When children are involved, try to avoid situations where you are alone with your partner when they visit and have a friend with you for emotional support and to act as a witness.
2. Focus on your own behaviour when divorcing your narcissistic partner
Yes, things probably will get messy during the divorce proceedings. Relinquishing control is something that narcissists find difficult to do and they will take it out on you through toxic behaviour designed to manipulate and get a reaction.
The best thing you can do is to stay as calm, collected and unresponsive as possible. Phillip would get bombarded with emails daily about how awful he was. For months before he came to see me, he would respond to each email, defending his position. He didn’t understand that he was getting caught up in her drama and that there was zero chance that she was open to seeing her own behaviour. When your partner learns they can no longer get a reaction from you, they will eventually stop their narcissistic behaviour towards you and turn their attentions elsewhere.
3. Plan for the worst from your toxic partner during the divorce
It’s not easy for a narcissist to move on from a relationship, so expect them to throw everything they have at stopping the divorce or making it as difficult as possible to finalise arrangements. It’s better to anticipate and plan for the divorce to get dragged through the courts and dirty tactics to be used by your ex. Phillip wasted so much time trying to negotiate a separation agreement with his wife without legal assistance. This was a year of bullying, emotional control and unreasonable demands.
Anticipating this behaviour from the start, learning how to predict with a high degree of accuracy how they will react to each situation will greatly increase your confidence and decrease your angst. Advising your solicitor of this is the best approach to take when divorcing a narcissistic partner. Document everything that’s said, save every voicemail, email and letter, and calmly respond to false accusations with the facts.
4. Make sure you have a good support network to rely on during the divorce proceedings
The truth is that it won’t be easy to divorce your partner and escape their narcissistic behaviour. There will be a long period ahead where they are going to attempt everything they can to stop you from getting free of them and moving on to a happier life.
Their accusations, comments, manipulation and outright lies will grind you down so make sure you have a good support network in place that you can rely on throughout the difficult weeks ahead. Supportive friends, family members and a therapist that can help you see through their toxic behaviour and retain focus are important during a divorce like this.
I’ve helped many clients escape their high conflict and toxic marriages and I understand just how trying a divorce in these circumstances can be. I specialise in helping my clients recover from the damaging effects of narcissistic relationships on their health and wellbeing, and I’d like to help you too.