Going through the process of a divorce is not easy, and rarely pleasant. It is a huge loss to be dealt with emotionally, and there are many practical considerations to be managed as well. There are issues surrounding the loss of an ideal picture of marriage and family, the breaking of a commitment, the loss of the intimate relationship you once shared with your spouse, financial issues, living arrangements, the impact on mutual friends and family members, and of course the effects on your children. Unfortunately, if your spouse is a narcissist, these issues can become even more contentious and difficult to settle.
Chances are, you are getting a divorce because your partner continually commits bewildering, confusing, and destructive acts. When the divorce becomes a reality, it is likely that the gloves will come all the way off and you will experience even more hurtful behavior. Lacking in empathy, and not receiving the accustomed “narcissistic supply,” (admiration and attention) from you anymore, you might be discarded as worthless to the narcissist and any faade that your spouse put up to keep you in the relationship may drop. It is important to stay as collected as possible in this situation, and stay as focused and unengaged emotionally with your spouse as possible. He or she is not the person to go to for help or emotional support. Here are 4 practical tips for leaving the narcissist successfully:
1. Cover your legal bases and do it soon. Anytime there is property, significant assets, and/or children involved, an attorney is very important. Enlist the services of an attorney who you feel safe and secure with, and who understands the dynamics of a potentially “high conflict” situation, as well as a thorough understanding of more peaceful alternatives like mediation. If the attorney glazes over or dismisses you when you bring up narcissism, find another attorney to work with.
2.Make some immediate financial preparations. In the short term, make sure you have access to money. Get a credit card in your own name, while your credit is still combined with your spouse’s. Open a bank account in your name as well, and stash some emergency funds in it, just in case. Court orders are designed to protect you from having your access to funds blocked by a spouse, but it is always wise to expect that your partner may not “play by rules.” Make copies of all financial records and information tax returns, W-2’s, paystubs, loan information, insurance policies, employee reimbursement accounts, mileage plans, car titles, property appraisals, bank statements, credit card statements, 401K statements, investment statements, and the like. Your attorney can give you a complete list of all documents needed. See a financial planner for advice about settlements and future outcomes.
3.Log and document everything times, dates, and events. Record all the immoral, unethical, illegal, and destructive acts your spouse commits. This is particularly important if you live somewhere where there is fault assigned to divorce, or if you have child custody issues. If you have concerns for your children’s safety with your narcissistic spouse and he or she doesn’t agree to your custody terms, you might want to ask for a custody or parenting time evaluation. These can take many months so be sure to request it right away if it is necessary.
4.Avoid interacting with your narcissistic spouse, except as absolutely necessary. Avoid personal conversations, or assimilating his or her criticisms or manipulations of you. Remember, it is likely your spouse will try to belittle, dumbfound, or cause you to question your perception of reality. Be careful what information you share, keeping in mind it may all be used against you later.