Understanding Today's Narcissist
Understanding Today's Narcissist

Episode 64 · 4 years ago

E09: How to Survive a Divorce with a Narcissist

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Divorce is difficult. But divorcing a narcissist can feel impossible. The surprise abusive attacks followed by the desperate pleas to remain together create confusion, frustration, and anxiety.  Here are a few of their tactics.

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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 how to survive a divorce with a narcissist. I know this sounds like an interesting topic by itself, but if you've ever been in a divorce with a narcissist or you're thinking about going into...

...a divorce with a narcissist, this is for you. There are a lot of twist in turns that a narcissist has up their sleeve and because they are so naturally charming and can turn it on, they manage to fool judges, attorneys, even yours, unfortunately, and even worse yet, if you're doing a collaborative divorce, sometimes they manage to fool the mental health person who has been designated to your case. This, of course, means that they get more and you get less, and the problem with that is, once you have those written down, in the divorce documents. It never really goes away, and that's exactly the point that the narcissist is trying to make with you, that they never really go away. So let's talk about how to survive a divorce with a narcissist. Today. I'm going to give you an example of Jane. Jane was married to her narcissistic husband for fifteen years and she...

...decided to get a divorce. They have two kids between them and they both are gainfully employed. They've been growing apart for about ten years and things had just escalated and gotten so much worse. She thought that the divorce process would be simple because he said to her in a fit of rage one time wall we should just get a divorce, and she's like, okay, but it wasn't that simple. So the further the the divorce progressed for Jane, the more insane things became. She witnessed her husband transformed from yelling at her in the car on the way to a party to becoming the most charming person in the room at the party. She also saw this happen in the courtroom. He was madly texting her all kinds of crazy text messages about what a lunatic she was. And then she walks in the courtroom and there he is trying to talk to her lawyer, being as Nice as he possibly could be. During the marriage, she was used to his radical changes in personality depending on...

...who or who wasn't in the room at the time, but this was a whole another level that she was experiencing. She severely underestimated his conversion when, after the divorce was a she severely underestimated his conversion from being terrible guy to nice guy after the divorce papers were filed. In front of family he was the victim. In front of friends, but alone he was absolutely personally threatening at times. Then he would be very charismatic and then alone he was like begging her to stay, please don't leave me. Jane felt puzzled, Numb, scared, disorganized and unbelievably responsible for the situation that she found herself in. Divorce is very difficult, but divorcing a narcissist can feel almost impossible at times. The surprise, abusive attacks, followed by the desperate please to remain together, are done to create confusion, frustration and anxiety in a person.

Worse yet, the narcissistic spouse, as in this case, usually charms friends and lawyers and judges into believing that they are the victims. Isn't that Ironic, leaving the real spousal victim without any support whatsoever. So I'm going to unmask some of the ways that they do this. So I'm going to give you a couple of examples. Number one is what I call the bait and switch tactic. The Bait and switch tactic is fairly simple. What they do is they lure a person into their way of perceiving the world and they do this by dangling some kind of attractive bait like money, success, power or influence. Person Likes whatever it is that they're being lure it in, and then, when the victim least expects it, the Bait is used against the victim in an attacking fashion. So, for instance, that would look like...

...you only married me for the money, you are such a whore. That is a statement that I've actually heard people say in session, believe it or not. So here's two other ways that I've seen the bait. When the House is burning down a block away, you don't see that the House is burning down a block away because they have you focused on the Lit Candle, the small little problem in front of you, and they're completely diverting you from what's actually going on. Those are two examples of a bait and switch that the narcissists will do. Okay, tactic number two. I call these scare tactics. So in order to get their way, narcissists will use abusive scare tactics. Think of them as the bully on the playground WHO's trying to intimidate the other kids into giving up their lunch money. They threaten harm to get what they want, regardless of how it hurts others. They did this in marriage. They are going to do this even more so and divorce. Two...

...popular ways that I see scare tactics happen are one is alienation. This is one of the easiest ways to get a spouse to comply, is by alienating them from friends and family, because when the spouse feels alone and abandoned, they are more likely to give into the demands of the narcissist. And the way that they do this is by whispering into the ears of friends and family members and saying, Hey, you know, they did blah, blah, blah blah, or this happened. My favorite is when the NARCISS is actually takes something that they do and then says that their spouse has been doing it, because they know exactly what they're thinking and feeling when they're doing whatever abusive behavior they're doing, so they can just project the whole thing onto their spouse and thereby alienating friends and family so that the spouse feels completely alone and has no one to turn to. The second scare tactic that they use is gas lighting, and this is definitely a more advanced method, but hugely popular.

So this is where the narcissist recreates personal historical events so they look like the same one and the spouse looks like the insane one. So usually the narcissist mixes a bit of truth in with a lot of fiction, so the spouse believes that their perception is the inaccurate version. That's the saddest part of the whole thing, because because the spouse then actually believes that they are going insane in the process. And this comes from the movie gas lighting. It's well worth watching it because no other picture I have ever seen. Yes, it occurred in the s and it's a really old movie, but that's about as long as this tactic has been around, believe it or not, that we've become aware of it, where they actually try to do things to make the spouse feel and look like they're going insane, when really they're not. That is a scare tactic. So we've gone through two of the tactics. Now...

...we're going to do the third tactic that they use, which is what I call the roller coaster ride. So the ups and downs and twist and turns in surprises of a roller coaster ride happen when you're divorcing a narcissist. By generating an air of uncertainty, the narcissist is able to remain in complete control. It is all about control for them, especially during a divorce. The more control they can have, the more influence they can have and the more that they will get in the divorce. They do this two ways. One is when they say you can have it all, and then they say you can have nothing. So you will hear both of those come out of their mouth and a desperate plea to play the victim. The narcissists will will claim that the spouse can have everything. Oh you can just have everything, I just want this to be over with, but secretly to their attorney they say...

...that they're not going to give a dime. So what they say to you or what they say to other people might be one thing, but then what they're doing behind your back is completely different. You can't believe it. Number two. The second way they do this is you will never see me again and you are always going to be mine. The threat of abandonment is done to get the spouse to say that they want the narcissist in their life. So they'll say you will never see me again, to try to get the spouse to say, oh, of course you will. But as soon as that's communicated, the narcissist begins to say that even after the divorce from their spouse is over, their spouse will always be theirs. I have heard that more times than I can count, where the narcissist claims that they they are still always in charge and that spouse, even after divorce, is still there's at some level. And whether they do that through money, whether they do...

...that through sex, whether they do that through power or influence or manipulation of the children, doesn't matter. They they have that attitude that even after the divorce, you are still attached to them and you will never be free from them. Tactic number four, that the that the narcissist uses. It's called child's play. This is actually the saddest part of divorcing a narcissist because of the impact that it can have on children. When parents are together, there is one parent constantly available to provide attachment and empathy, two things that the narcissistic parent very rarely provides, unless a child is their favorite, and then the favorite child gets all of that, the unfavored child does not. However, the child then grows up to believe that the narcissistic behavior is acceptable when they live in the two parent household. So they think that this behavior is okay and they might actually become very narcissistic as a result. Apart, things become very difficult for the child, however. So this is one of those...

...scenarios where you're kind of damned if you do and you're damned if you don't, unfortunately. So you're damned if you do get a divorce from them, because now you only get to have your kid half of the time, and you're damned if you don't, because now your kid thinks that this behavior is acceptable. So, having said that, there are two ways that a narcissist as child's play. One is what I call Disney parenting. The first tactic, and narcissistic parent usually tries after the custody has settled, is to become the Disney parents. So they are the fun parent, exciting, there's never a dull moment, I'll get you whatever you want. You know your your mom or your dad won't ever do that for you, and so I'm going to do all of that for you. And then they break the rules, of whatever rules were acceptable before, as a way of luring the child away from the other parent and towards the narcissists. So they become Disney parent to the Max. The second tactic that they use is called parental alienation. Next,...

...the narcissist begins to alienate the child from the opposite parent by pointing out flaws in consistencies of discipline and hurt the narcissist has felt at the hands of the other parents. So they're constantly like in the cut kids ear, saying you know your mom is just not very discipline. You know your mom didn't do this, or you know your dad is just over the top, you know. So it's this constant in the ear of the child. This causes the child to shy away from the safe parent, the non nauset assistic parent, in favor of the narcissist. So those four ways are how a narcissist actually makes divorce absolutely very difficult. They do it through bait and switch, through scare tactics, through a crazy roller coaster ride and through child's play. But once you become aware of this, then you can learn how to master...

...the techniques of how to overcome it, and that will be something that will go into on a different podcast. For Right now, it is more important that, if you're in this situation, you start to learn very quickly how to identify these things, because identification keeps you from slipping into the trap of their insanity or their perception of the world, which is highly inaccurate. In this case, you need to be able to see things clearly. The other major thing that you can do right now, and should have been done yesterday, if you're getting in a divorce with the narcissist, is you've got to have a friend. You have to have somebody who's in one hundred percent your camp is never going to leave. It is going to stay there to support you through this, because they will alienate all of your other friends and family. But if you've got one person, then you're going to have all the support that you need to make it through this. I hope this is helpful to you. Just remember that you can survive a divorce with a narcissist,...

...but it is different than other divorces, so be aware of what they do. 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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