Narcissism is a psychological disorder that can create an emotionally abusive and toxic environment and cause devastating effects on a marriage.
According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, narcissism is defined as a “pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy… as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance.
2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
3. Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high status people (or institutions).
4. Requires excessive admiration.
5. Has a sense of entitlement.
6. Is interpersonally exploitative (i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends).
7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.”
Narcissist spouses believe their marriage revolves around them and expect their spouse to plan his or her life around their needs.
They are extremely controlling and manipulate situations to their advantage. Any indication of losing control makes them feel insecure, and they are prone to anger or violent outbursts when things do not go their way. Challenging their authority bruises their ego, so they become angry when met with opposition and are hypersensitive to criticism.
Abusive behavior also goes hand-in-hand with narcissists. While they may not always be physically violent, narcissists can be verbally and emotionally abusive as well as exceedingly controlling.
Because of the difficulty in curing narcissism (since narcissists do not believe they have a disorder), you can choose to remain in a marriage revolving around a narcissist’s needs and wants—or you can choose to divorce your narcissist spouse and take back control of your life.
DIVORCING A NARCISSIST
What happens when you decide you no longer want to be married to a narcissistic spouse? The hopes of obtaining an amicable divorce are unfortunately slim to none because a narcissist will most likely make the divorce process as difficult and contentious as possible.
Because narcissists are self-centered and unable to empathize or accept responsibility, they will put the blame on the other spouse for their marital problems and will perceive themselves as the victim (even while bullying the other spouse). Since a narcissist believes he or she is never wrong—it will always be the other spouse’s fault or shortcoming as to why there has been a breakdown in the marriage.
Divorce in general can be a contentious process. When you attempt to divorce a narcissist, the proceeding tends to get quite heated. This is because a narcissist spouse will attempt to manipulate every issue to his or her advantage and will view any action by the other spouse as a challenge against his or her authority.
It is common for a narcissist to engage in the following conduct to escalate conflict or frustrate the divorce process:
1. Refuse to engage in negotiation to settle the issues.
2. Fail to comply with agreements and/or court orders or listen to the judge and/or their attorney because they believe they are above the law.
3. Withhold financial information and documents.
4. Attempt to hide their assets.
5. Refuse to pay support.
6. Use their children as emotional pawns.
7. Increase litigation costs with delaying tactics.
It is also common for a narcissist to issue threats such as:
1. If you move forward with this divorce, you and the kids will be out on the streets.
2. I’ll make sure you never get the kids.
3. I’ll stop working and you’ll be the one paying me support.
4. I’ll fight you with everything I have, even if it means going broke.
In short, a narcissist spouse will not act reasonably, do what is best for the children, volunteer information, attempt to settle the issues amicably or comply with orders. Instead, narcissists will make the process as difficult as possible because they believe themselves to be the one who’s been wronged.
Divorcing a narcissistic spouse takes patience and perseverance. We are experienced in dealing with narcissist spouses and have helped many clients whose spouses have exhibited high narcissistic traits.
We understand how a narcissistic spouse operates, so we can help you protect your rights, guide you in how to communicate with your narcissistic spouse in a more productive way and keep your emotions under control and request court orders on your behalf that minimize opportunities for manipulation by the narcissist spouse.
Contact us today for a free, confidential phone consultation so we can discuss your situation and advise you about the options available to you.