Divorcing A Narcissist–Plan Your Exit Strategy in Advance

In the emotional chaos of a marriage to a narcissist that has soured and become very ugly, it is difficult to think clearly about how to make an exit that will benefit you the most. First, pay close attention to the signals and red flags you have been getting all along that the person you married is a narcissist. He/she is self absorbed, selfish, given to rages, secretive, a chronic liar (who plays the part beautifully) manipulative, exploitive and completely lacks empathy. You have seen these behaviors throughout the years and they are escalating. If you have researched this personality disorder, you have all of the information you need to make your decision. You can stay with this person and talk yourself into believing that he is going to change at some time down the road or be convinced that you can alter him. This is never going to happen because this disorder is fixed. The false self of the narcissist develops very early and the defense mechanisms these individuals use are impervious to change. They believe that they are superior, perfect and over-entitled. They have no motivation to change.

If you decide to break up the relationship, do all of your homework in advance and detail. Interview several attorneys and choose one who has a lot of experience with divorce and has worked with clients who have this personality profile. Your attorney needs to be highly self confident, well trained, intuitive about human nature, have superior communication skills and an excellent legal temperament for times when the narcissist and his attorney come down very hard. This is the time of reckoning when your attorney is being tested and will either win with flying colors or fail to represent you properly. Get all of your financial records in order. Get your support group in place of friends you can completely trust–one is enough. Keep yourself in good physical condition. Do cardiovascular exercise like walking or going to the gym. Do not wear yourself out. Get quality sleep and make sure that you following an eating plans that provides your body with the nutrients it requires. Dial down the fight or flight syndrome with practices like gentle yoga poses, forms of meditation that work for you. Appreciate what you are doing. Don’t share your exit plan with anyone unless you are sure you can trust them completely. I know you can do this. You are beginning a new cycle of your life that is richer, deeper, more meaningful, creative and peaceful.

12 thoughts on “Divorcing A Narcissist–Plan Your Exit Strategy in Advance”

  1. its easier said than done to find an attorney that knows how to deal with a narcissist, i can tell you i couldn’t and i tried very hard, maybe there should be some national list for this type of specialist, they can charge double and they would be worth every penny.

  2. My husband of 33 years, walked out of me and our marriage on September 16th 2013, without a clue to me that he was unhappy and nothing was ever said. The devastation I felt when this happened, continues to affect me, mostly negatively. I can’t seem to shake how this could happen, and to me, What type of person can do this to someone else, especially someone who loved him, gave her whole heart and soul to him and our marriage.

    When I told my husband’s ex-boss when he did to me, his mouth dropped, and then he said “people change”, but thought later, do they really or have they been this way all their lives, and not only didn’t I see it, but they didn’t either. After over a year, of extensive self analysis and reading books about whats called Sudden Wife Abandonment Syndrome (SWAS) per the book entitled “Runaway Husbands’ by Dr. Vicki Stark, whose own husband left her for another woman after 21 years, the women she interviewed felt pretty much the same as me. We felt used, abused, kicked in the stomach, lost, ashamed, and thrown out like garbage.

    I haven’t yet come out the other side of this trauma, and am still legally married to my husband, who continues to put a roof over my head, and thank goodness, because most who do this type of action and are narcissists, don’t and could care less if their wives can eat or survive.

    After reading this blog and planning on buying the book, Freeing yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life, I am beginning to understand the “what and who” I married, and who sucked up so many years of my life, controlling me, intimidating me, neglecting me, and knowing that I didn’t have my own personal money to leave. My husband only used my outgoing personality and my giving self for his own professional gain- from becoming an officer in the Navy from an enlisted man, to an IT consultant pulling down a 6 figure income, to his real estate brokerage, and handyman franchise, and much more. He was an introvert, type A personality, who I admired, and loved.

    Once I leave Washington State where my husband “dumped” me, and a place that I have no friends or family near me (and he could of cared less about, or never had friends during our marriage), I plan to file for divorce in CA. Just my huaband’s arrogance alone, when he told me a year ago that he “would be willing to give me half of his Navy Military retirement income in the divorce” made me panic, because I had no idea if he would or could do that to me. One half of his income would leave me in poverty, and in the total of what is now 34 years of marriage to my husband, and counting, I know I am entitled to more.

    So, I will interview many divorce attorney’s and not only see who fits me the best, but who also knows how to be a “bully”, who knows this type of personality defect, which will never change, ever. What I do know, is I have matured greatly over the past year, who is a lot wiser and cautious too, but will heal from this over the many more years I have ahead of me, with those who love me, and me them.

    Thank you so much

  3. Thank you so much for this honest advice. I am getting ready to relocate to CA from WA and will do my due diligence in interviewing good and strong minded attorneys to get divorced from my husband of 34 years. Because I am also a military spouse, the lawyer I hire also has to me knowledgeable in matters of military pensions.

  4. I meet with my mental health counselor on weekly basis, who knows my husband walked out of our marriage, but still financially supporting me since I didn’t work during our marriage. I live in a different state that my husband lives in, and he hasn’t a clue as to how much I have grown up as an individual without him around. He still thinks that I’m the little Jewish girl with fell off the milk truck (or Matza ball truck) yesterday, but if I did, I have climbed back up over the past year since he left me , more knowledgeable as to his dealings, and schemes.

    My narcissist husband is a piece of work, who will not have anything to do with his and my sons, one, age 23, who is now legally mentally disabled, and collects social security every month, and when he tried to commit suicide in June 2014, his father never even called the hospital to see how his son was.

    If a narcisssist can do something, they will, even if they know it’s wrong, But one day, hopefully I will be divorced from this man, and gone forever from him, living my life better than before. He still controls the financial aspect, including the password to his military pension, but he thinks again, that he is in control, but isn’t. Being married for over 33 years allows me to not only get 1/2 of his pension, but split anything he has acquired since he left me. I didn’t live in poverty while married to my husband, lived fairly well, supported all his careers, raised our children, moved all over the U.S. for the 33 years, I never obtained a career, and am the legal guardian for our disabled son, (but he doesn’t know he is), who also needs a roof over his head.
    So, I woke up and much to his amazement, once I move to CA, without telling him I am in July 2015, he will be in shock. In fact, he lives in CA but I’m not moving there because of him, I am moving there for me, since I have family there, and not where I live now.
    Stronger, wiser, and a whole lot quieter about my plans of action and filing for divorce, and what I am entitled to after many years. My narcissist husband will know soon that I am the one that will tell him what I want, the fact that i am hiring a lawyer and not signing an ‘uncontested” divorce agreement drawn up by my husband and what he wants to give me, Not going to happen!

  5. I returned to CA about 8 mos ago after my narcissist went thru a midlife crisis – while we were living abroad – and decided we were over. He gave me absolutely no financial support, and claimed I was “entitled to nothing” after our 9-yr marriage.

    So, you can move to CA, but you will have to establish residency before filing. After you have been here for 3 months you can file for legal separation. At that point, he will be on the hook for temporary support until the divorce.

    So far, it has been a very expensive and stressful process for me, and I want it to be over so I can move on. You should be in a good position, though, since you’ve been married for so long. Good luck.

  6. Contemplating divorce from wife of only a year and a half. Small red flags came up before marriage and were dormant for the first year of marriage. After rwe decided to move (for my career), I was suddenly marginalized and guilt tripped into being ashamed for my career progression. To this day, even when things are great, she never hesitates to let me know how I disappoint her and how she’s a victim. Men AND women can have this affliction. It’s just as hard on men as it is women.

  7. My narcissist wife of 8 years out of nowhere blindsided me by telling me lies,playing mind games,blaming me for things I haven’t done,lying to our marriage counselor family and friends. After four months and the loss of thirty pounds my family and friends decided to step in and help me out so I can put my focus on my two boys and myself.
    After one week they caught her having an affair. She of course still lied and told me she wanted to separate. I told her I wanted a divorce. Her response was to call the police on me for false charges. I was then handed divorce papers from her lawyer and she put an emergency order of protection against me. I have been a stay at home dad for most of our children’s lives,a baseball coach, volunteer for neighborhood events, friends with most of the parents and well known throughout my children’s school. I haven’t seen my kids in over a month. I even had to start baseball practice without my son. Not only do I now have a divorce lawyer, but I have a criminal lawyer as well. There is no evidence of any crime or wrong doing so I pray I can get out of this no matter how broke I become. The only good that has come of this is getting away from her. I feel like I’ve been dragged through hell backwards. But for the first time in eight years I’m feeling like myself again. I’m am gaining strength getting sleep and getting ready to return to my boys. She only pays attention to them when she feels she has too. I’ve also been informed that her mother moved into our home to take care of the boys since I’m not there. I am definitely going to buy this book because I am going to fight her with everything I have for the well being of my boys and I will never give up. I’m am leaving a lot out of this story. I am a father who lives his life with his kids and I have to win this battle.
    Thank you for reading.

  8. My therapist of 6 months just met my husband today. After 30 mins of talking with him, my therapist asked him to step out of the room. She then told me that he is a classic textbook case narcissist and that there is no fixing such a personality disorder. I want to believe that he could get help and improve. I don’t want to be a single mother. We have been married for 19 years and are religious. We have 8 children. I am not sure how i will manage on my own. How will finances work? IT seems that the cost of lawyers might eat up all the money so perhaps i should just sign his divorce agreement. Im very alone. No close friends as i could never bring friends into the house and risk embarrassing myself that my husband is so narcissistic. My family live across he ocean. I’m so sad. I have lived a numb life for so many years. If my husband wasn’t so narcissistic and wanting a divorce – so he can get better sex (I’m not joking – he’s leaving me because i don’t provide him with the right kind of sex and of course enough appreciation), then i would continue to stick out the marriage, probably until my youngest son was more grown up. He’s 3. :-((

  9. Hi.
    Daughter of Narcissistic Mother here. (Scapegoat as well).
    I haven’t talked to my father about if he knows/knew she was a narcissist or not.
    But I do have questions for those who are or have divorced one-IF you have kids.

    What is the plan for that, exactly? My mother divorced my father because he is a very uncontrollable man and would not let her control him. But, because she is a woman, she got full custody of me and my older brother.

    and I still look back, thinking/wishing I were raised by him instead of her. thoughts like ‘maybe I would have had a chance.’ stand out in my mind.

    She had custody of me and destroyed my childhood and potential. all while cackling in the background probably musing over her ‘win’ over keeping the kids.

    So, when divorcing a crazy manipulative charming person who can’t feel love or empathy, how do you make sure the kids DON’T go to them?

  10. I have been married to a narcissist for 34 years. The physical abuse that began before I ever married him should have sent me running but my need for love at 17 was incredible overwhelming because of my abandonment issues from my childhood. The past 2 years have been the toughest and I finally made it out safely and must run and never look back as they say. My life has been threatened every day in the past couple of months and his questioning accusing anger is none stop. I left for a week last month but am so weak I went back with his false promises. He said I would never see my grand kids again. But then he told me how the first 5 years of marriage he was sleeping around and that was all my fault. Something finally snapped in me. The way he said this was so cold and I could see how proudly he justified his actions by blaming me. I realized I had no more to give and I told him that even afters hours of being told how everything since the day I met him was my fault. My life had been threatened more than once today and I knew my time was short, I had to find a way out but then because I told him I had nothing left he decided to take off and that’s when I made my escape. I tool only enough clothes for 2 days and am scared to stay on my island and I know I am weak to my narsissist. He if so cleaver with his methods of getting me away from people where I can’t escape. I need more support because I can’t do this anymore. I must be strong and remember who I am. Thank you.

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