Divorcing someone who is a narcissist may be emotionally draining, complicated and potentially very contentious due to their potentially manipulative and self-centered behavior. In fact, it may be this same behavior that has led to your divorce in the first place. Narcissism is a personality disorder and can cause a lot of stress in a marriage, for very understandable reasons.
With that said, there are steps you can take to make things go more smoothly. Here are some tips to consider if you’re divorcing a narcissist.
Stay calm and rational
Narcissists often try to provoke emotional reactions. Practice emotional self-control and respond to provocations with calm and rational communication. Oftentimes, they want you to react emotionally because they feel that it gives them the upper hand. Just stay calm and focus on your end goal of ending the marriage and creating the life that you want.
Be aware that your spouse may lie or be dishonest during the divorce. To help combat the consequences of such conduct, keep meticulous records of all communication, including emails, text messages and voicemails, between you and your spouse. Document any incidents of manipulation, threats or harassment. Gather financial documents to help demonstrate what assets you each own during the division process.
Set up solid boundaries
Establish boundaries with your spouse, making them as clear as you can. For instance, you may want to communicate through your attorney whenever possible. Limit direct contact to reduce the opportunity for emotional manipulation. After the divorce, consider implementing a strict no-contact rule, especially if the narcissistic behavior continues.
Secure your finances
Take steps to protect your financial interests. Close joint accounts, establish your own bank accounts and safeguard important financial documents. Be sure not to violate your spouse’s rights while you do this, however. For instance, it may take both of you to close a joint bank account. This is a safeguard to keep one person from taking everything prior to finalizing property division terms.
Your legal options
Divorce can be complicated for any couple. If your spouse is a narcissist, that can just increase the level of complexity and conflict inherent in your marital dissolution process. Make sure you know exactly what legal options you have as you seek to protect your rights and work toward a favorable outcome.