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Five tips for divorcing a narcissistic spouse

On Behalf of | Jun 17, 2024 | Family Law |

Getting divorce is rarely easy. Even those spouses who agree to end their marriage on amicable terms can find themselves struggle to wrangle certain divorce legal issues. But these matters can become much more contentious and complicated when you’re dealing with a difficult spouse, such as one who is narcissistic.

A narcissist is self-centered and puts their own wants and needs first, often at the expense of others. They fail to empathize with others, and they often have an inflated sense of self-worth. In the divorce context, then, they often lash out in anger, manipulate the circumstances to their advantage, sometimes refuse to negotiate, and often try to stall the dissolution process.

That’s a lot to deal with as you’re trying to move onto the next chapter of your life. So, how can you get through your divorce from a narcissist successfully without rushing the process to your own disadvantage?

Tips for successfully divorcing a narcissist

Divorcing from your narcissistic spouse might seem impossible. While it’ll certainly be difficult, there are steps you can take to make the process easier. Here are some of them:

  1. Come to terms with reality: One way to reduce the stress of divorcing a narcissistic spouse is to come to the realization that this is going to be a contentious process, and you’ll likely have to litigate your divorce legal issues in court. Although that can be stressful to think about, coming to this realization early on will help you prepare for the road ahead and take uncertainty out of the equation, at least to a certain extent.
  2. Keep written documentation of everything: Your spouse is bound to lie if doing so gives them an advantage. You want to set the record straight so that you can avoid their manipulation tactics. One way to do so is to keep a written record of all interactions with your spouse. Be detailed here so that you don’t leave room for interpretation.
  3. Reduce communications to writing: You don’t want to give your spouse the opportunity to twist your words to use them against you. So, avoid face-to-face and phone conversations with them as much as possible. Communicate via email, text, or some other written form so that it’s clear what’s been stated between the two of you.
  4. Watch what you say: Your frustrations with and anger towards your spouse may be apparent. But you don’t want to lash out at them or about them to others. After all, these statements may be used against you in court, maybe even in a way that results in a custody order that’s not in your children’s best interests. If you need an outlet, then your best bet is probably to talk to a therapist.
  5. Have goals and pick your battles: Heading into divorce, you need to have a clear strategy and goals that you want to attain. Once you’ve devised your strategy, you can pick and choose your battles, that way you’re not fighting your spouse on every issue. In fact, by letting them win on some issues, you may gain leverage to reach the goals that you’ve laid out for yourself.

Don’t let your spouse take control of your divorce

In many of these divorces the narcissistic spouse takes control and dictates the outcome of the key legal issues. As hard as it can be to push back against a domineering spouse, you have to stand up for your interests. We know that can be hard to do, which is why it’s important that you surround yourself with a strong support network that can help you advocate for what’s right and fair under the circumstances. By doing so, you’ll hopefully obtain the divorce resolution that you want and need.