It is common practice for those preparing for divorce to pathologize their spouses. They want a clear explanation for why their marriage failed and believe that psychology may offer some answers. It is dangerous in many ways to engage in armchair psychology, especially when attempting to diagnose someone with whom a person has shared an intimate relationship.
However, when someone presents the cornerstone symptoms of narcissism, including self-obsession, an inability to admit fault, a lack of guilt and a willingness to misrepresent the situation, their spouse may reach the conclusion that they are narcissistic if not a diagnosable narcissist. There is little question that divorcing someone with narcissistic tendencies can be much more difficult to manage than divorcing the average person. The following are some of the ways in which someone can more effectively prepare for divorce when they know or suspect that their spouse is a narcissist.
Connecting with a strong support base
Divorcing someone with narcissistic tendencies can be an exhausting process. They might make someone question their perception of events and try to lay the blame on them for everything that went wrong in the marriage. Therefore, the person preparing to divorce usually requires support from those who are compassionate and understand who they are as a person.
Deciding to see a therapist
Friends and family members can only go so far in helping someone make sense of their spouse’s conduct and the state of their marriage. A psychologist, therapist or similar counselor can help someone better learn how to assert themselves while simultaneously turning their negative marital experience into a learning opportunity.
Narcissists typically do not like to lose and often go to great lengths to avoid personal accountability for their decisions. Someone divorcing a narcissist may have to worry about them making promises and then backtracking on their word or even intentionally manipulating evidence to make their spouse look like the party at fault for the situation.
Establishing firm boundaries
Narcissists often try to control people through manipulation, and that does not necessarily change just because someone filed for divorce. Particularly after a long marriage, a narcissistic spouse may try to abuse or manipulate someone into staying with them. The person trying to leave needs to establish very clear boundaries and enforce them consistently for their own protection.
Communicating through an intermediary
Often, a clean break in communication is the best solution for someone divorcing a narcissist. Often, spouses who file for divorce can request that all communication go through their lawyers. If they share children, then the spouse seeking to leave their narcissistic partner may request that all communication go through a parenting app. This way, there is less ability for the narcissist to manipulate their spouse and evidence of how they speak to their spouse during the divorce process.
At the end of the day, taking the right steps to prepare before filing for divorce can make a big difference for someone trying to move on from an unhealthy relationship.