For many reasons, amateur psychology is prominent these days. Armchair practitioners feel comfortable assigning diagnoses to public figures, politicians, and celebrities. A common term tossed around these days is narcissist, which has a clinical definition but is casually used to describe a self-absorbed adult. Divorcing a narcissist can be wearing on the spouse. Find some relief with these tips.
The handsome Greek hunter, Narcissus, fell in love with his own reflected image in a pond and could not bear to look away. He wasted away, eventually turning into (as these things happen in myths) the flower we know today by the same name. Forgotten in the myth’s retelling is the partner of Narcissus, gorgeous little Echo the forest nymph. She falls in love with Narcissus, but can only repeat what others say. When she hears Narcissus aver his love (for himself), she echoes back his words and hopes he really meant her. As ephemeral as an echo, the little nymph withers away from unrequited love. There you have it; two hopeless romantics losing out on all that is good and pleasurable (like a cool forest, a tranquil pond, and two mostly nude, totally hot Greeks) because of their own selfish motives.
A Narcissist? Moi? What is Narcissist Personality Disorder?
Narcissist Personality Disorder mostly afflicts men, according to the Psychological Bulletin. The disorder causes a person to have an inflated sense of his or her own importance and a deep need for excessive attention and admiration. Coupled with that is a history of troubled relationships, an inability to feel empathy for others, and heightened sensitivity to criticism. Sound familiar?
Marrying a Narcissist
Your wife could be a narcissist if she has several of these traits, says the Mayo Clinic:
- An exaggerated sense of self-importance
- A sense of entitlement
- A need for constant, fauning admiration
- An expectation that she will be recognized as superior even without doing anything to justify the recognition
- A tendency to exaggerate achievements and talents
- Preoccupation with fantasies about power, brilliance, beauty, or success
- A belief that she is superior and cannot mingle with anyone not equally special
Social signs that you married a narcissist will include her inability to hold conversations that are not all about her, a pattern of belittling anyone she views as inferior to herself, and a predilection for taking advantage of others for her own benefit. You may suddenly find yourself without many friends because she has pushed them all away as neither good enough or or useful to her. First tip: Figure out if your wife is a narcissist!
Divorcing a Narcissist
If your wife is really suffering from narcissistic personality disorder, she is not mentally well. She needs treatment, although no pharmaceutical pill corrects the issue. A visit with a psychiatrist is in order (if she will agree). She can get a more realistic perspective on her life and her affects on your marriage by participating in intensive therapy and counseling, but she may likely exhibit secondary symptoms when her insatiable need for attention is not met, says the Mayo Clinic:
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Fits of rage
- Uncontrollable spending
Second tip: Get her help if you can; if you cannot, at least show you tried.
The experts at Psychology Today recommend defending yourself from the get-go against the narcissist’s all-out war to declare herself the “winner” in the divorce battle. Third tip: hire a strong lawyer, one completely familiar with Virginia family law. Expect many ploys along the way:
- The spouse plays victim
- She expects everyone to feel she is in the right
- She will want a protracted battle, to negotiate every word, and to squander resources (time and money)
- She sees nothing in nuance; you are evil incarnate, she is a saint, and every move you make has an evil, ulterior motive
Fourth tip: Steel yourself for a lengthy, emotionally charged divorce.
Winning the Battle
The narcissist wants above all else to be perceived as winning at everything. Fifth tip: throw her bones. What do you care if she thinks she “won” so long as you are done?
Experts as Marriage.com advise that you prepare yourself mentally, keeping your eyes clearly on the target. Tips six through nine:
- Do not fall for invitations to argue
- Keep paper records
- Let facts answer her emotional tantrums
- Perhaps most obviously, let your lawyer handle everything as rationally and coolly as possible
To “win” in a Virginia divorce from a narcissist, you need to emerge as more than a mere echo of your ex-wife’s personality. Tenth tip: Learn to keep your distance, says The Huffington Post’s divorce column, and stay neutral, dispassionate, and fact-centered. Tip #11: Ignore her behavior and look only at what she does at each stage of the process, and how her actions affect your case.
The first stage of the process in divorcing a narcissist is to call The Firm For Men at 757-383-9184, or contact us online, so we can guide you through the first steps. We can help protect you financially, emotionally, and personally from a self-absorbed spouse. We can help you see the tranquil pond, not her reflection.