Maybe you merely suspect that your spouse is a narcissist – or maybe you know they are. Either way, divorcing a narcissist can be a challenging and emotionally draining process because narcissists don’t handle criticism, rejection or the appearance of failure very well (at all).
So, how do you survive your divorce with your sanity intact, when your spouse seems determined to make your life (and the divorce) as difficult as possible? Here are some tips:
Try to understand narcissistic behavior
Narcissists have a sense of entitlement and an inability to accept responsibility for their actions. They may try to manipulate and control you during the divorce process, which can be frustrating and stressful. It can help to try to gain some emotional distance by recognizing that they’re really very fragile egos and are incapable of doing better. Lashing out is the only way they can try to regain a sense of power and control over their lives.
Work with a professional on your responses
Work with a therapist, counselor or divorce coach who has experience working with narcissists. They can provide you with guidance and support and help you develop coping strategies to deal with your ex-partner’s behavior. They may even be able to coach you into a communication style known as the “gray rock” method, which can effectively deprive a narcissist of the power trip they get from upsetting you.
Stay focused and set boundaries
Stay focused on your goals and the things that matter most to you during the divorce process. Make a list of what you actually want to accomplish and keep reviewing it so you don’t get sidetracked by your ex-partner’s antics and attempts to manipulate you. You should also set clear boundaries with your ex-partner about what you will and will not tolerate – and be firm and consistent in enforcing them.
Limit communications and keep records
Narcissists can turn words into weapons, so limit your communications to approved channels (like through your representatives or in writing). Keep detailed records of all communication with your spouse throughout this process, including emails, texts and voicemails. This can be useful if you need to provide evidence of their behavior in court.
When your spouse has issues that can affect your divorce process, discussing your concerns and exploring all your legal options can help you negotiate from a position of strength.