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Can you divorce a narcissist without losing your sanity?

On Behalf of | Sep 11, 2023 | Family Law & Divorce

Whether you suspect that your spouse is a narcissist or you know it, the end result is the same: There’s no way that a divorce is going to go down smoothly.

Your spouse’s sense of entitlement, their limited (or utterly lacking) ability to empathize with others and their obsessive need for external validation make the whole idea that you’d seek a divorce hard for them to process – and when a narcissist is upset, they lash out and try to find new ways to exert control. So, can do you cope? Lucky for you, narcissists can be pretty predictable, and that’s the key to managing this situation.

Anticipate, anticipate and anticipate some more

The key to surviving this process with your wits intact is anticipating your spouse’s behavior as much as possible and planning strategic responses. For example:

  • You can expect your spouse to lie and try to game the system. Because of this, you need to make sure that you document every interaction as much as possible. This may mean keeping all communications in writing, whether via text, instant message, email or letters.
  • You can expect your spouse to try to guilt-trip you and play the victim. Because of this, you know it’s better to just step away from social media and get into therapy so that you can develop the fortitude to simply ignore their attacks and hold firm to your resolve.
  • You can expect your spouse to say horrible things to you (and about you) as far as your parenting, your morals and more. By recognizing that they’re basically lashing out like a child, you can gain some emotional removal from the immediate situation and see their tantrums for what they are.
  • You can expect your spouse to do something outrageous to get your attention. You can shut them back down by simply keeping your cool and not feeding into their drama. Practice techniques like the “gray rock” method (where you become about as responsive and interesting as a plain, gray rock) until you know you can control your reactions in their presence.

When you’re going through a difficult divorce, a professional who takes a thoughtful approach to legal guidance – especially early on – can be an invaluable source of support.