Divorcing a Narcissist and Winning
While divorce is inherently overwhelming and emotionally challenging, those of us who are faced with divorcing a narcissist experienced a heightened level of fear and frustration. By the mere definition of a narcissistic, self-absorbed, self-obsessed, self-centered, it is impossible to engage in a dialogue where both parties needs are heard and acknowledged.
I am divorced from a narcissist. Often our ‘conversations’ are simply me listening to his monologue. His ability to dialogue, to hear my perspective and consider it is severely limited by his narcissistic personality disorder. The other challenge is because their perspective is the only one they are capable of seeing, they are 100% sure and confident that they are right. A healthier person considers the other perspective and as a result might question and adjust their own.
An understandable question is how to divorce a narcissist and win when the narcissist is wired to need to win and often will fight to the detriment of the children and finances. They may even feel like the victim throughout the process, again due to their single minded belief that their needs and opinions are right and are all that matter. They also see your concerns as unfair criticism and are unable to look at the possibility that they are part of the problem.
So what can you do if you are divorcing a narcissist?
First, it is vital that you have a healthy sounding board. You most likely have ‘lost yourself’ amidst your spouse’s certainty that s/he is right and you are wrong. You also need to look at your ability to set boundaries…and uphold them as most narcissists are boundary oblivious. Finally, you are well served to notice your own behavior.
- Are you surprised or angered each time he or she does not acknowledge your perspective or needs?
- How long has this been going on for?
- And why would you expect them to behave differently now?
I am speaking about acceptance. When you accept that a narcissist cannot and will not see your perspective (because that is how they are wired) you stop trying to shove a round peg into a square hole. By accepting the limitations of your narcissistic spouse, you free yourself to find new solutions. He or she will continue to behave the same way.
When divorcing a narcissist, notice your insanity…doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
It is up to you to change the dance you have been engaging with your spouse.
One thing I changed was I began to hang up on my ex (after numerous warnings that I have to do). It stills feels bad. However, I know that if I don’t I will be kept on the phone for hours. It is my responsibility to set my boundaries and to uphold them.
- Where are you still feeling like the victim of your narcissistic ex?
- What is your role in your frustration?
Find new ways of behaving to minimize the pain of divorcing a narcissist.
Finally, for those who feel deeply victimized by the narcissist, a shift in perspective is valuable. Your narcissistic ex did not ask to be born with this personality disorder. There is no talk therapy nor pharmaceutical drugs that can help him or her heal from this disorder. When I learned this, I found my way to have compassion for my narcissistic ex. It took a long time and it feels great to be rid of my ‘I am a victim of him’ mentality. He must live with this disorder for the rest of his life and all the damage it does to his relationships. I on the other hand, am healthy and free. He is my teacher, my Buddha, my Cross and I get to work on my patience, compassion, acceptance, expectations and boundaries regularly because we will be connected for the rest of our lives through our children. I no longer hate. I no longer hurt. I am at peace.
You have a choice about how the rest of your life will be impacted by your narcissistic ex. Create a healthy support network, join a community of peers today.
Karen McMahon, Journey Beyond Divorce Founder
Our team of coaches at JBD is passionate about helping men and women navigate the emotional difficulties of relationships, breakups and divorce. We work together with you to open the possibility that your current relationship challenges can lead to a rewarding voyage of self-discovery and an immensely more pleasing life experience. Together we create a path to clarity. Find out if Coaching is right for you, and accept my gift of one FREE session.