Narcissists – we all know at least one; some of us are unlucky enough to be married to one. If you thought being married to a narcissist was a nightmare, wait until the divorce. That’s not to say that divorce isn’t the right course of action if you’re married to a narcissist (it often is), but it’s important to be aware that the road ahead of you will be a difficult one.
The Challenges of Divorcing a Narcissist
Narcissists always win – no matter the cost. Things must go their way, or they’ll make your life miserable. They will drag everyone down to the lowest rung of the ladder to get what they feel they are entitled to. You can see why divorcing a narcissist is no easy task. They never forget, and they “get over it.” A narcissist will continue to make life difficult for their ex and their children for the foreseeable future.
Oftentimes, when one parent is a narcissist, the other parent has to take a strong stance just to protect the children. And all it takes is one narcissist to cause serious conflict that pushes the other parent into defense mode. Emotional abuse is difficult to prove and rarely taken seriously in court, so both parents are often labeled as “high-conflict.”
Narcissists find it hard to move on, and will cling to the notion that you abandoned them – “how could you do this to me?” The anger they feel will stick around for quite some time, sometimes years.
Simply put, an amicable divorce and reasonable co-parenting is nearly impossible with a narcissist. They will excessively disparage you, make false accusations, and will often refuse to pay child support because they view this action as giving money to their ex. A narcissist’s sense of entitlement will make it difficult or nearly impossible to negotiate fair division of property and money. Because they act without considering the consequences it will have on those around them, the children often wind up suffering because their best interests are not kept in mind.
Protecting Children When Divorcing a Narcissist
Narcissist thrive on conflict. They lack the capacity for empathy and cannot recognize or understand the emotional needs of others. The biggest concern is always the well-being of the children. Many narcissist parents are completely oblivious to the needs of the children, which can be dangerous.
Working with a divorce lawyer who understands narcissism and has worked with clients who are battling narcissistic spouses can go a long way in helping you protect your children. Other professionals (who also understand narcissism) will need to be involved in order to assist you and your family. Therapy is often advised, and you may consider making a parenting plan that takes into account the narcissistic parent’s needs and behavioral tendencies.