One of the greatest challenges for many spouses of narcissistic men or women is the actual decision and follow through of divorcing them. The road to divorce is often long, winding and bumpy with many switchbacks, going back and forth in many directions. Some spouses separate a couple of times only to return to the narcissistic partner. When there are children involved the situation is more complex. It is true but difficult to acknowledge: Narcissists are not good parents. They are often called Disneyland parents—all fun, presents, anything goes. The narcissistic father or mother is known to suddenly become very attached to and involved with his children when he or she discovers that a divorce is imminent. The children represent for him/her the ultimate narcissistic supply. He shows them off proudly like the jewels in his crown. They are part of his life success, his great accomplishment. Some narcissists don’t give a damn about the divorce. They go through the motions and can’t wait to escape and find someone else who will adore them. From my experience this is the exception. If a narcissistic parent has avoided his children throughout the marriage it is not unusual for him/her to suddenly become obsessed with the role of super daddy or super mommy.
Before the divorce decision the narcissistic spouse may be loose about money—where it goes, how it is spent, etc. It’s all so easy. Why sweat the money—we can always make more. When the battle begins all of this changes. Suddenly he is watching every penny. He goes over the bank statements like a professional auditor. Narcissists under divorce duress can swing wildly in their thought processes, moods and plans. It causes a form of psychological whiplash to the victims. Those who have gone through this process know what I am talking about. Often they will say: “I thought I knew this person. Now he/she is someone I don’t recognize.”
Given these circumstances, be prepared for divorcing a narcissist as diligently as you can. Hence, it would be prudent to find attorneys from reputed law firms who can help with the situation. An attorney is an expert in divorce and family law. However, the lawyer (or attorney) does not have to understand the narcissistic personality in-depth. But he/she must be very savvy about their main character’s traits, tricks, tactics, and agendas. The temperament of the attorney is particularly important. Mainly, an attorney should be someone who is very tough, unflappable, fearless, and psychologically and emotionally well contained.
This individual is not afraid of the narcissist or anyone else who would provoke him/her. If you are the client who is educating the attorney about your soon to be ex-spouse, it’s time to hire someone else. Don’t pick an attorney who will gouge you financially. Yes, they are well paid if they are excellent. Make sure that this person is not going to take advantage of your vulnerability but will be your chief ally throughout the entire process. You want a true fighter, a long distance runner, someone who is not afraid to round the Horn of the legal process. When you interview the attorney pay close attention to the nonverbal communication. This individual must communicate clearly and have a pleasant manner. This attorney must be professionally committed to your success with your case.
Prepare personally by taking very good care of yourself. Give yourself some time alone to read, listen to music, write, paint, exercising that is calming and strengthening, etc. Spend time with close friends. If you are spiritually oriented, it is very important to get back on track with your meditation, prayers, sacred readings, etc. This will bring you a peace that the world cannot produce. Acknowledge and feel deep inside an appreciation for who you really are:genuine, unique, talented, creative, loving, a person of vision, empathy and integrity. Tune in to your intuition every step of the way. This is a great gift that you will use throughout this process. I have great faith in you and know that you will prevail in this process and in the renewal and transformation of your life.
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.
Freeing Yourself From the Narcissist in Your Lifewill be published in a paperback edition on August 15, 2013