Divorcing a Narcissist

Divorcing a narcissist, especially after 20 years or so, is incredibly challenging. From the complexities of the legal process to the immense stress and anxiety it imposes on your life, and the emotional toll of separating from your spouse, no one would describe divorce as easy. Despite online advertisements promoting quick and straightforward divorces, the reality is often far more complicated. Hearing stories of divorces ranging from straightforward to highly complex might make you reconsider the decision to file for divorce.

Does that mean that you should hold off on getting a divorce? Not necessarily. The decision to get a divorce is one that you need to make yourself. While there may be many considerations at play in your life that may indicate that you need a divorce, the bottom line is that you are the person who has to live with the consequences of your actions. Your mother, your father, or your best friend may be able to offer you advice but never actually have to live with the day-to-day consequences of either filing or not filing for divorce. For this reason, you need to do some thinking on your own about whether or not a divorce is in your best interests and the best interests of your children.

Assessing Your Best Interests Before Divorce

You need to perform an honest assessment of your circumstances to determine what is in your best interests at this time. Certainly, if I were someone moving towards a divorce, I would consider whether or not it is possible for reconciliation in your marriage to occur. If you and your spouse had never attempted to work towards a resolution of your problems in marriage or even to attend counseling or therapy, then you may want to tap the brakes on going full steam ahead into a divorce and inquire as to whether or not your spouse would be willing to attend counseling with you.

If they voice a willingness to work with you on attending counseling, then that may be a step you all wish to take before considering an outright divorce. On the other hand, if you have already attended counseling without success or your spouse has told you that they do not want to participate in counseling, you probably have your answer. My point is that jumping into a divorce without exhausting every resource available towards reconciliation would seem to be a bad choice, in my opinion. Simply seeing your spouse displaying a willingness to work on your problems together may cause you to view them in a completely new light.

Finding Counseling Resources for Marriage Rejuvenation

If you need resources for counseling or therapy options in your area, then you could consider reaching out to your health insurance provider, the human resources department at work, you are a church, and even social media. These are all resources that could point you towards help for your family in both the short and long term. Depending upon the specific problems in your marriage, you all may need ongoing counseling more than simply counseling done over a month or two. Being able to have a game plan and act intentionally towards achieving the goals of that game plan can go a long way towards helping rejuvenate and replenish your marriage.

Are there any situations that require an immediate exit in your marriage? On the other hand, certain situations require immediate consideration for an exit versus a steady approach at attempts to reconcile. The most immediate type of situation that warrants a speedy exit is if your spouse is abusing you or your child. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of the coronavirus quarantines in a stay-at-home order has been that domestic violence and child abuse have increased. This is a sobering thought even as deaths due to the pandemic increase overall.

Recognizing Domestic Violence Signs

Staying at home with an abusive spouse or parent poses a dangerous, life-threatening situation for some families. It鈥檚 inappropriate to downplay the severity of the abuse or believe that it鈥檚 not significant. Based on my personal observations, violence tends to escalate rapidly in families affected by domestic violence. Where the abuse was something minor before, it is now a possibility that it could get much worse at the drop of a hat.

Consequently, you might find yourself needing to make a decision sooner rather than later about leaving home to protect yourself and your family. I see this as a time for you to decide about your divorce and develop a plan to leave the house safely. Developing a safety plan along with your children and extended family is a great idea. Simply motivating yourself to leave home in the event of future abuse is not sufficient. You need to develop a plan for you and your family to follow the instant something goes wrong. Sometimes you only have a few seconds to make a decision, and you need to have worked through a plan with your family.

Preparing for a Hasty Exit: Essential Steps for Safety

For instance, do you have a place to stay in the event of a hasty exit? Do you have clothing, emergency money, important documents, and other paperwork ready to go if you must leave your home? If you leave home, you need to assume that you will not be able to regain access. For that reason, it may be wise to photograph the interior of the home to inventory items for your divorce likewise; if you have documents in file cabinets or folders at home, you may want to make copies or scan and email copies to yourself if you will need them in the future. In contrast, you may regain access to the home at some point that may not be until after your spouse has had an opportunity to dispose of documents that may have been helpful to you.

Either way, you need to have a plan in place because amid abuse, you will likely not be in a great frame of mind to the point where you will come up with solutions for yourself. Rather, I would take this opportunity to develop a plan and inform people that you trust your plan. It is not a bad idea to begin to meet with attorneys in other people that can assist you if a divorce becomes a real possibility for you and your family.

Why do people remain in bad marriages?

I frequently confront this question. Being a family law attorney, I have the duty and privilege to help many families in our area, and oftentimes I see husbands and wives remaining in bad marriages for any number of reasons. You may find yourself clinging to hope of reconciliation or improvement in the quality of your marriage despite there not being a great deal of reason for optimism. Besides mere optimism, it鈥檚 essential to have concrete reasons why you believe your marriage has a chance for reconciliation. Otherwise, without hope of reconciliation and concrete reasons for believing this will occur, that is reasonable to expect and plan for a divorce.

Weighing Short-term vs. Long-term in Marriage

I think most people generally hope for the best and want to avoid major changes in their lives and their children. While a marriage may be unfulfilling or even toxic, some people view marriage as the devil they know versus the devil they don鈥檛, namely getting a divorce. For that reason, you may choose to stay in a marriage that you know to be unfulfilling or even dangerous to some extent. This doesn鈥檛 make you a bad person, but it shows that you are prone to making short-term decisions rather than long-term.

Also, I have seen spouses, notably wives, mega the decision to remain in a marriage for what amounts to financial reasons. This doesn鈥檛 mean that you would be money-grubbing or focused purely on finances, but it does mean that you have legitimate concerns for your financial well-being if you were to get a divorce. You could view this as a golden handcuffs type situation. The potential fallout of a divorce may find you with little to no income, no job experience, and little prospect for financial success in the short term or long term. For that reason, you may choose to stick it out in a failing marriage rather than take the risk of getting a divorce.

Long-term Marriage Dilemma

Imagine you are a spouse who鈥檚 been married to your husband or wife for 20 years, if not longer. During that marriage, you have never worked, do not have a college education, and have no job skills to speak of other than taking care of the home and your children. While these are notable skills to possess, they don鈥檛 necessarily translate well to the working world. This is an intimidating position to be in, and it would be understandable, at least in the short term, to be of the mind that staying in a marriage like this there鈥檚 preferable to taking the risk of getting a divorce.

Not only would you have to confront concerns regarding replenishing your household income after divorce potentially, but you risk losing retirement benefits, health insurance, and tuition money for your children鈥檚 education. All of these are reasons enough for many people to remain in marriages that have long since passed their point of sustainability. If you find yourself in a marriage like this, you need to decide whether or not your best interests are served by being married. This is on top of the emotional, spiritual, and other considerations regarding a divorce or marriage.

Specific considerations regarding the divorce from a narcissist

I鈥檒l begin by telling you that I am not an expert in personality disorders, psychology, or mental health; if you want an actual diagnosis regarding a condition suffered by you or a loved one, I will reach out to an appropriate source of information regarding this type of condition. I am offering these opinions as an attorney who has seen and represented many people who have gone through divorces. Of those people who have gotten divorced, some of them have appeared to care more about themselves than any other person in the case, including their children. Getting a divorce from this type of person can prove to be especially difficult because they are difficult to negotiate with and has personality traits that are difficult to work with throughout the process.

Perspective and Blame

To start with, getting a divorce from a narcissist may be more difficult than getting a divorce from a typical person because if your spouse is a narcissist, they are likely only viewing your buy from their perspective. Any difficulties that have become a part of the marriage are likely to be viewed as your fault, and the negative aspects of the marriage are likely to be viewed as only occurring to them. Their problems in their contributions to the fall of your marriage or likely not to be considered all that heavily.

This means that they may end up filing for divorce without consulting you first or even considering what the divorce means for you in the future. Your narcissistic spouse may have spent a great deal of time preparing for their exit from your relationship and family but have spent very little time considering the impacts on you or your children. This can be one of the more frustrating aspects of an entire case, given that narcissists may care about themselves more than they even care about their kids.

Financial Implications

If you are married to a narcissist, you need to come to terms with the fact that they will take steps that will stand to benefit them but will put you and your children in a second and third position. For instance, they may withdraw money from your bank account to open up an account with which you do not know. This can put the unit up a position as far as paying for a mortgage, groceries, and any other household expense that you rely upon your spouse for. They may plan on sending you money or ensuring that the kids are taken care of in the future, but As for now, you all may be out in the cold as far as money is concerned.

Your narcissistic spouse might have devised a divorce strategy long before initiating the process. You may discover that they鈥檝e meticulously planned their exit from your life, with steps taken that went unnoticed. While you鈥檙e still grappling with the emotional aftermath of the divorce filing, they may have already moved on physically and emotionally. Feeling abandoned while your spouse starts a new life can be challenging for some individuals.

Empowering Response to Divorce Papers

Instead of enduring this feeling for an extended period, I recommend planning your divorce upon receiving the divorce papers. Keep in mind that your spouse is already moving on, so it鈥檚 crucial to take steps to strengthen your relationship with your children, hire an attorney, and assert your position in response to the divorce. This doesn鈥檛 entail acting unethically or unreasonably, but it does require recognizing that a divorce doesn鈥檛 have to be one-sided, leaving you on the defensive throughout the case.

Even still, most divorces wind up with people acting in ways that are self-serving and self-interested. That鈥檚 the trouble with divorce: when a divorce is filed, It makes a business transaction out of a marriage. While this may seem harsh or cold, it is the reality that you will find yourself in. As a result, you should prepare yourself and your family for months ahead by working with an experienced family law attorney who can help you manage your expectations, develop a strong game plan and work to achieve whatever goals you have for your case.

Questions about the material contained in today鈥檚 blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

if you have any questions about the material contained in today鈥檚 blog post</a>; please聽do not hesitate to contactThe Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and how your family may be impacted by a divorce or child custody case in Texas.

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