Narcissists are known to become angry and even to retaliate when things don’t go their way. If you’re married to a narcissist, you know how volatile your spouse can get in response to a challenge–or worse, an outright rejection like divorce.
Narcissists may be more likely to put their needs over the family’s in divorce proceedings, or to “go scorched earth.” Spouses of narcissists may avoid the thought of divorce, as their minds wander to custody, alimony, or shared assets.
It’s common for those married to a narcissist, to rule out divorce because of “what might happen.” And there’s no shame in that. The devil you know is better than the one you don’t. In this scenario, the devil you don’t know is how drastically they might react to divorce papers.
That said, you have laws, seasoned professionals, and an always-available support network on your side. If you’re becoming increasingly frustrated, hurt, or even traumatized by your narcissistic spouse, use this article to explore the evidence that divorcing a narcissist is daunting but possible.
Preparing yourself emotionally in advance of divorce can help you cope with whatever your spouse throws at you in the moment. Even though the journey will be undeniably difficult, expecting retaliation behaviors can also help you and your legal counsel strategize.
“Do not expect a narcissist spouse to cooperate or go away quietly. During a divorce, narcissists can be manipulative and exploitative, feeling neurotically entitled to get whatever they want.” – Memphis Divorce
“They will take every single thing you do and twist it into something it’s not just to paint a bigger picture of the monster they want to portray you as.” –Nicole Pecoraro, Scary Mommy
“Because narcissists engage in gamesmanship, manipulation and lies, whenever you deal with your narcissistic ex always put everything in writing. By having your interactions with your narcissistic ex in writing, you will be able to better show the court your ex’s lies and manipulation. When at all possible, allow your attorney to communicate with you narcissistic ex.” – Modern Law
“You and your divorce attorney should be prepared to explain to the judge what narcissistic personality disorder is and how it affects relationships and behaviors. You may need to hire an expert to testify on your behalf about the disorder. Don’t be afraid to use every tool at your disposal. Your partner certainly will hold nothing back.” – Adz Law
If you’re divorcing a narcissist, you have probably worried about how others will see the situation. Narcissists are masters of “plausible deniability” and you’ve likely seen your spouse manipulate others onto “their side.” Many narcissists are “covert narcissists,” meaning that they routinely hide their true nature from the public.
That said, while some will be taken in by narcissists, many other people won’t be so easily fooled. Popular articles on identifying narcissism abound, and there are countless fellow victims of narcissism who could certainly see through the act.
When you’re in the thick of a toxic relationship, it can be hard to imagine what it’ll be like on the other side. The process of divorce can be messy, it can take time to get to a good place, and that’s okay. It can be helpful to look forward to what life can be like after divorcing a narcissist.
You aren’t broken and life isn’t hopeless. Know that you are capable of divorcing the narcissist, moving on, and of being in healthy relationships.
You could have a life that you truly love, one that doesn’t revolve around an abusive narcissist. Imagine that.
“Over time, I created an amazing life with exciting plans for my future. I changed my career and adopted a lifestyle where I lived, worked and travelled around the world. I still desire to share my life with someone special, but first and foremost, I would not compromise myself. A relationship would have to add to the existing amazingness of my life, not take away from it.” – Marie-Claire, Revelation Therapy
“I am a new person. I am changing and I like who I am becoming. I feel freedom like never before. I am more keen and sharp to others (and their hidden, or not so hidden) objectives.” – Lynn Nichols, Moving Forward With Hope
Let’s face it: being in a relationship with a narcissist, and divorcing one, can take a huge toll on your well-being. When your narcissistic spouse, or ex, makes you feel like you’re the problem with everything, consider how important it is to take care of yourself and reach out for help.
“Connect with your best friends and closest family members for support during your divorce. Talk to them about how you’re feeling, and lean on them when you need to. During tough tiems, it’s those whom we love most that really come through for us.” – Our Family Wizard Blog
“The words and actions of a narcissist can leave lasting damage on the people in their path toward self-aggrandizement and entitlement. Don’t let them take you down.” – Nicole Smith, Survive Divorce
There’s no shame in getting help if you’re divorcing a narcissist. In fact, it could be the best way to get out of your cage and feel freedom once again.
Try talking to a lawyer, a loved one, or a therapist or health provider. Or lean on instant tools available to you, like Supportiv, to feel supported during a challenging and isolating time.