Understanding Today's Narcissist
Understanding Today's Narcissist

Episode 66 · 4 years ago

E07: How to Divorce a Narcissist

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Divorcing a narcissist is grueling because they refuse to be on the receiving end of someone leaving them. It takes careful planning to avoid complete exhaustion. Follow these steps before confronting your narcissistic spouse.

For more help, join us for a 4 week live webinar on how to Survive a Divorce with a Narcissist. Register here: http://growwithchristine.com/narcissism/narcissism-copy-2/.

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Welcome to understanding today's narcissist, where we explore how you can better manage and relate to the narcissist in your life. I'm your host and psychotherapist author, Christine Hammond. Like to take a moment to thank one of our sponsors, psych CENTRALCOM. You can find my articles listed at Psych Centralcom. Under exhausted woman. Today we're going to talk about the steps you need to take before you tell your narcissistic spouse that you want a divorce. These steps are absolutely essential so that you can maintain a solid mental health and so you can come...

...out of the divorce with the best possible outcome. What you start when you when you're starting to divorce, think of this as good preparation. Just like when you were getting married, you probably went through some type of prep for marriage counseling beforehand. If you didn't, you should have. Sorry you didn't. That might be one of the reasons why you're here, so think about that for next time. But the PREP for marriage counseling is designed to help highlight some kinds of differences and issues that you might have in your marriage as you go forward. Well, this is the same thing. Divorce is a very big decision. It is as big as the decision to get married, if not more so, because you're ending something. So when you finally have gotten to the point that you want to make that decision, don't just do a knee jerk reaction and say I want a divorce without having done any planning.

These ten steps that I'm going to go through with you are absolutely essential for helping you to get started on the right foot. Without them, you'll you might head down a path that you will later regret. So let's talk about the ten steps. The very first step is to recognize that there is actually an ending, that at some point your marriage is really going to come to an end and you are going to get a divorce. Decide ahead of time what that boundary is and then have the courage to stick to it. So like, for instance, if you have a spouse who's cheated on you in the past and you've gone through counseling and the counseling isn't working, set a time table and say, okay, we had six months to make this work and if it doesn't work, this is a boundary, an example of a boundary. If it doesn't work within that six months, then we're going to go ahead and proceed with divorce. So you don't necessarily have to communicate that boundary with your spouse. You can if you want to. That's entirely...

...up to you, but decide where that boundary is in your own head so that you know what decision you need to make going forward. It will make it a lot simpler for you. So another example of this would be that there's multiple affairs and once you found out that there's one affair, if there's one more affair, that you will just go ahead and end it. or it's a sexless marriage in which there hasn't been any sex at all for a long period of time and if you've gone through repeated amounts of trying to get help and it still hasn't improved, then it might be time to end things. Or perhaps there's been some abuse that the children have witnessed that isn't good for them develop mentally, and if your spouse refuses to get help for the abuse that they're inflicting, then you have to consider getting a divorce. These are all boundaries and limitations that you need to set. Once you've set them,...

...whether you've communicated or not, have the courage to stick with it. So the first part is recognizing that your marriage is coming to an end. The second part is to keep quiet. This is not the time to be talking. This is the time to keep quiet about it. Once you have reached that boundary, don't confront your narcissistic spouse with I'm going to divorce you. This is only going to ignite them into this kind of push pull maneuver where they're going to push you away and then pull you in and push you away, kind of the I love you, I hate you routine that they will do to keep you from leaving. Another favorite tactic that they use as gas lighting, where the narcissistic spouse will then start saying that you're insane and start showing ways in the past where they've rewritten history to demonstrate how you're the insane one and how they are the same one. So don't fall into that trap. Keep quiet at first. There will be plenty of time before confronting later on, after everything has been lined up for right now, keep your...

...mouth closed. Number three, start looking for evidence. This is the discovery time period. So there's an old saying it goes where there is smoke, there is fire. And this is especially true for a narcissist, meaning that they have this insatiable need for attention, approval, affection and affirmation, and if they're not getting it from you, they're getting it from somewhere, trust me. So your goal is to find out where that spot is. So it could be anything. It could be in the form of affairs, either physical or emotional. It could be an addiction to drugs, sex, alcohol, spending, work or gambling. But in order to discover their their vices, and you probably know what some of them are already. You just don't know the extent of them, you need to follow the money. Money will always lead you in the right spot. The sad part about all of this is when I've said this to other people in the past, I find out that they don't have access to their spouse as accounts. This is a big...

...fat no no. You should always have access to your spouse as accounts. When you are married, you are married, meaning that your stuff is half there's at half yours. So in the eyes of the law, everything you have is jointly held, including all accounts for which there is a single name on it of one of the two of you. This is really important that you remember you should have access to all of this stuff. You might have to do some snooping, you might have to do some digging, you might even have to pull a credit report in order to find out exactly how much debt there might be hanging out there. But whatever it is, discover as much evidence as you possibly can and follow that money. Number four, gather support. So when you're looking for friends and family to support you through this process, I don't want you to have any more than three people. More than three is very difficult to manage. I really prefer one to two in this category, but they must be one hundred percent team you, meaning that...

...they cannot be in anybody else's camp and not even remotely devoted to the narcissist in any way, shape or form. It is best to find a friend or family member who actually sees this narcissism and also has an accurate past history of events, because you're going to need that, because at some point in time you're you're not going to have such a great vision and you're going to get confused in the narcissists will spin you around, and so having a friend who can say yeah, no, that's not really really wet down. Here's what really went down, because I know I was there. I saw it. Those friends are very invaluable. I caution you about family. The reason I caution about family is they should always be in your camp anyway, but family can be fickle. Then you might not want them to have all know all of what's going on in your private life. So I really do prefer that this person be kind of neutral in this area and in only just a...

...couple of small people. This is not the time, by the way, to add any new friendships. So if you come across somebody that you think would be helpful and their new Nina, no, don't do that, because you don't have the time to test them to see how much you can trust them, and it's really, really important that you actually do that. Be leary of anyone who wants to become a very fast close friend during this time period, because that could be a setup. I've seen that happen on more than one occasion. So number four is gather support. Number five is verify your perspective. So spend some time one on one with the small group of friends to verify your perspective. So ask some questions about what they saw gather some information about them, of examples of the narcissism that they've seen, any abuses that they've seen, any concerns that they have. Be Willing to listen to things that you may have done wrong in the marriage that you could change...

...or possibly need to work on, and actually start to make a list of time events that have happened so that you have a little bit more clarity. This will be useful later in case you need it. You might not ever need it, but it will at least help to clear up some of the fogginess and confusion you might have. Number six stash some funds. So typically, once the narcissist smells the possibility of divorce, they drain the accounts. Seen that happen more times. They drain the accounts, they cut off the credit cards. Literally everything is done right away, so you have no access to funds. So this would be a time to have some money stashed with some friends or with your family members so that you can have access, have a credit card somewhere that's just in your name so that you have the ability to use or get access to some funds should you need it. Ideally, this money will not be needed, but it's always better to have these options...

...opened rather than closed. So just remember that even if you have a bank account with just your name on it, it is still marital property. Okay, so I want to make sure we're clear about that. So if you're stashing funds, you're going to have to do that outside of the marital property. Number seven, use professionals. Preferably you should use professionals who are familiar with narcissism, meaning counselors, a divorce lawyer who understands what a narcissist actually does and isn't going to be fooled by the charm that they are going to give not only them but unfortunately the judge as well. So don't rely on the narcissist to find any professionals, even if they seem really nice and seem like that they can really handle it and I will be so much easier if we just go through this person. No, no, don't do that, because you want to make sure that whoever you have is really all on your side. Use Professionals on your side. Number Eight. This is the hard...

...one. You've got to remove the emotion. When you go through a divorce it's like grieving process, so you're going to go through all the stages of grief, which are denial, anger, bar bargaining, depression and acceptance. The good news is you've got about a year to go through those stages. When you are in the middle of a divorce, you do not have time for this because you will not be able to think clearly and make rational choices. You have got to think of a divorce as a business proposition or proposal, or a breakup or a contract agreement or negotiation. You cannot think of this as an emotional issue, which it is what it is. But you're going to have to do that after the divorce, because the narcissists will take total advantage of that and really take you to the cleaners on this area. So make sure that you are taking out your emotions and you're doing the best you can to put those emotions on the shelf. You can visit them privately, you can do it later, but don't do it while you're in the...

...middle of negotiations. Stay cool, stay calm, stay collected and no matter what the narcissist does to try to aggravate you, do not get aggravated. Number nine, discern you're timing so before confronting the narcissist about the divorce. Make sure your friends and professionals are all lined up, all the paperwork is done as much as possible and everybody has agreed on the timing. Don't pull the trigger too soon, or all of this hard work and preparation is going to be lost. You have to do the right timing at the right moment. And when you do confront I would suggest that you do it in a public place, preferably with other people around, or you can do it in a counseling office. You could do it in an attorney's office. There's any one of a number of places that you can do it so that there isn't this explosion. Please do not do it at home alone. That is not a safe situation. Number ten, that's pull the trigger. So now is the time to actually confront the narcissist, making sure that you're not using a...

...private location where some kind of abusive act can happen, where a rage can go on. But, like I said before, make sure you're choosing the good place, a good location. I would have some friends check in on you. They should know that this is about ready to happen. Have them check in on you during it afterwards so that they can make sure that you are okay. Don't be emotional during this time period. Be Very direct and give extremely short responses to any kind of attack or negotiation. Don't, do not try to work things out at this juncture. That is not this is not the right time for it. Absolutely LE resist the urge to defend any position or to take on any unnecessary blame, and do not engage in any arguments. Just leave that for the attorneys, please. That's what they do, that's what they do best. So these are the ten steps that I advise people to do when they're in the process of looking at divorcing a narcissist.

If you follow these steps, I can't guarantee that things will go smoothly, but for sure they will go a lot better off than if you just do a knee jerk reaction and say hey, I want a divorce without any of the prep work ahead of time. Thank you for listening to understanding today's narcissist. If you've enjoyed the episode, please subscribe to the podcast on Itunes to make sure that you don't miss another one. If you'd like to learn more, you can visit us at grow with christinecom thanks so much for listening and we'll be back next time with a new episode.

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