The term “narcissist” used a lot in casual conversation, mostly when referring to a difficult boss or an ex who made their life unpleasant. However, the truth is that the word doesn’t just refer to self-involved people who are only out for themselves. In fact, narcissism is a psychological condition that can have a serious impact on the life of the affected person and those around them.
While being married to a narcissist is not without its challenges, divorcing one can result in additional issues. In fact, a narcissist’s basic personality traits may push him or her to fight against the divorce in order to avoid the embarrassment of a failed marriage. At JacksonWhite Law, we understand that divorcing a narcissist can be a traumatic experience. We’re providing this article to help educate anyone who thinks their spouse is a narcissist, and also offer personalized care to our clients that bring us on to help them with their divorce.
So, what is a narcissist anyway? According to the American Psychological Association (APA), narcissistic personality disorder is a condition characterized by a pattern of self-important behavior and an inability to empathize with the feelings of others. Narcissists need constant attention and may experience feelings of anger or embarrassment when dealing with defeat.
Those with narcissistic personality disorder often struggle to maintain relationships in a personal or professional setting. Not only do narcissists tend to monopolize conversations, but they may also disparage or put down people they see as being inferior to them. Additionally, narcissists have been known to do the following:
- Embellish skills and achievements
- Demand attention or favors
- Take advantage of others
- Fail to show empathy or concern
- Expect compliance from family members and friends
How to Know if You’re Married to a Narcissist
When going through a contentious divorce, it’s easy to want to paint your spouse in a negative light, but that alone doesn’t mean they’re a narcissist. However, some husbands and wives absolutely demonstrate the traits associated with narcissism. So how do you determine if your soon-to-be ex is a narcissist?
While a psychologist is the only person who can make an official diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder, certain attitudes and behaviors could indicate that you’re married to a narcissist. People who suffer from narcissism may struggle to empathize with their spouse’s feelings. Additionally, narcissists may demand respect and deference from their spouses while viewing themselves as the victims of any argument or conflict. Compulsive lying, criticizing, and gaslighting are also indicators that you could be married to a narcissist.
Most Difficult Factors to Overcome When Divorcing a Narcissist
After dealing with a spouse’s narcissist behavior for years, you may decide that divorce is the only solution to your relationship problems. Unfortunately, divorcing a narcissist can be easier said than done. Here are some of the challenges associated with divorcing someone with narcissistic personality disorder, along with tips on managing the situation successfully:
1. They will likely resist settlements.
Many couples prefer settlement to litigation. After all, this option saves both time and money while minimizing the stress on spouses and children. Unfortunately, narcissists tend to be resistant to settlements in divorce cases. If you’re anticipating a lengthy case, it’s important to minimize costs and energy by focusing on the most important issues in the divorce. Doing a cost-benefit analysis with your attorney can help you decide when it is and isn’t worth putting up a fight.
2. They may try to destroy important documents.
Gathering important financial records and data is an important step to take before any divorce case. However, if you’re married to a narcissist, it’s even more crucial to secure these documents before filing. After all, your spouse could drain bank accounts or destroy documents to hide financial resources. They might also attempt to access social media and email accounts to injure your reputation. Depending on the specifics of your situation, you may even want to have your phone or car checked for trackers or other devices for keeping tabs on you.
3. They will likely use the kids to manipulate you.
Most people want to do everything in their power to minimize the effect a divorce has on the children. However, narcissists have a habit of using children as pawns to achieve their goals or present themselves in a better light. For example, a narcissist may try to gain full custody so they are perceived as the better parent. If you’re concerned about issues related to child custody or support, then you shouldn’t hesitate to get a family lawyer involved in the situation as soon as possible.
4. They may use malicious tactics to change your mind.
It’s not uncommon for a narcissist to try to change their spouse’s mind about getting divorced. Along with gaslighting you about incidents that occurred in the marriage, a narcissistic spouse may promise to change or shower you with gifts in order to get one more chance. If you’re confident in your decision to divorce, don’t let yourself be swayed by these tactics. In most cases, narcissists who don’t get psychiatric help soon revert to their old ways.
5. They will likely try to hurt you emotionally.
Narcissists sometimes strike out at the people causing them unhappiness. In particular, they tend to view divorces as failures. Because narcissists love to win, skilled divorce attorneys know how to make difficult spouses feel like they’re enjoying small victories. Letting a narcissist “win” in some cases helps ensure you don’t have to compromise on the important things.
6. They will make the case much more difficult.
Divorce cases involving narcissists are almost always more challenging. If you’re planning to divorce a spouse you suspect of being a narcissist, the best thing to do is contact an experienced family law attorney early on in the process. The top attorneys have the knowledge and skillset needed to make your divorce as seamless and fast as possible.
Let JacksonWhite Help You
Dealing with a marital separation or divorce is never easy, and it’s even worse when your significant other is a narcissist. Fortunately, the JacksonWhite Family Law team has the knowledge and experience to make the process easier for you. Call today for the help you need with divorcing your narcissistic husband or wife in Arizona. We look forward to meeting you.
Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.