You are finally divorced from your Narcissistic Spouse! Now you are embarking on your new family situation with your Narcissist Ex: Co- Parenting! You are probably wondering how you became the lucky person who gets to experience this mind-altering situation along with other people you love the most: your children!
Let’s review what is Narcissistic Personality Disorder or ‘NPD”? It is a mental disorder where the person has a very transparent and superficial inflated self-esteem and neurotic needs for admiration and special treatment from other people. Typical arrogant behavior and lack of empathy for other people causes many problems in all emotional areas of their lives and relationships. Narcissists are usually very aggressive with impulsive tendencies, dangerous lifestyles involving cockiness, selfishness, manipulation and power motives. These individuals may appear as very exciting personalities at first meeting, but at the end of the day are unfulfilling and destructive. This false sense of entitlement produces a feeling that causes them to punish those who do not provide their required respect, admiration, or attention.
One of the biggest personal disappointments in Co-Parenting with your Narcissistic Ex is that often you are as unsuccessful as you were in marriage with the ex-spouse.
Children cannot and do not offer the continuous positive feedback narcissist parents crave and the parent will often react in one of two ways. W. Keith Campbell, an expert on narcissism and professor of psychology at The University of Georgia, offers that “some lose interest in their children entirely and look for other sources of validation”. “Others view their children as a reflection of themselves and become hyper-involved and controlling. Disconnection is the key, even an overly narcissistic parent is emotionally detached and lacks warmth.”
Eminent psychologist E. Mavis Hetherington In her landmark book, For Better or For Worse, highlights the results of her study of 1,400 families and the importance of examining the type of conflict children experience. She notes high conflict that involves the child is physically violence, threatening or abusive conduct and conflict in which the child feels caught in the middle, causing the most adverse consequences for children. These effects include anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.
Some Strategies when dealing with Co-Parenting with your Narcissist Ex
- Limit your contact with your Ex. Contact should only involve information or issues concerning your children. Email or Text as much as possible. When you have the child, make the rule, “Unless an emergency, no contact will be made verbally until the child goes with the other parent. Try not to talk directly to the other parent when the children are present.
- Don’t Respond immediately or to everything (Hold that trigger response when children are present!) Also commit to a 24-hour turn around on all communications to and from your Ex!
- Make sure that you have a structured parenting plan in place that is very specific concerning schedules of visitation, holidays and vacations to help to minimize conflict. Also, if necessary, secure the help of professional counselors, lawyers, or therapists who can help the children and yourself to cope with the Narcissist Parent.
- Control your behavior and your triggers! Your ex-spouse knows you very well and knows how to press a trigger to make you look like the “Crazy “parent. This situation was continuous during the marriage and has continued in your Co-Parenting period. You are the adult and your children are watching your behavior concerning how they react to their other parent.
- Be the PARENTAL ROLE MODEL for your children. Show your children through your actions that you only have their best interest as your top priority. Control your behavior toward your narcissist ex and never bad mouth the other parent in front of the children.
- Do not tolerate abusive/demeaning behavior from your Ex to either you or your children. You must be the “adult” and protect your children. If your children are afraid to go visit this parent or after a visit, the kids come back with bruises, breaks or a more serious medical problem, get professional help to stop this type of abuse. If you truly feel that this narcissist parent is abusing the child, do not continue to send the child back to this parent. Contact an attorney who can help you to keep your child safe.
- Last by not least do not care what other people think! This is your life and you are the only parent who can control and protect your child against the Narcissist Parent. Life is hard and people are not perfect. When your children grow up and are responsible parents, this will be your award for being there to care and protect them from parental harm.
The Nacol Law Firm P.C.
What is a narcissist? Narcissistic Personality Disorder or ‘NPD” is a mental disorder where the person has very inflated self-esteem issue and a serious need for admiration and special treatment from other people. Typical arrogant behavior and lack of empathy for other people causes many problems in all emotional areas of their lives and relationships.
Narcissists are also very aggressive and usually have impulsive tendencies, dangerous lifestyles involving cockiness, selfishness, manipulation and power motives. These individuals are usually very exciting personalities at first meeting, but later cause unfulfilling relationships resulting in anxiety and depression at the end of the day.
You have met the “most exciting” person in the world who has self-esteem problems and can’t get along with anyone, including you! The big problem is that you married this person and now you MUST FIND A SOLUTION TO THIS SITUATION AND GET A DIVORCE!
The marriage adventure is over. Your married life to your narcissist was a total disaster and you know that you need to get a divorce. Are you frightened that you could very well lose everything in this divorce from hell since you may lack the manipulating skills that your narcissist spouse skillfully uses on all aspects of his/her manipulative lifestyle?
Before you start the Divorce battle with your narcissist, you must “Stop Feeling and Start Thinking”! You have been emotionally battered and mutilated for years by this spouse, but now is the time to take over your life and your children’s lives and decide that Your family DOES NOT AND WILL NOT TAKE THIS ABUSE ANYMORE FROM YOUR SPOUSE!
Here are some tips on planning your exit from this marriage and Win control of your life and your family lives.
- BE PREPARED! If you are thinking of going through with this divorce, start your preparations now! You need total knowledge of your family’s financial situation. On our website you can pull off a blog “Texas Divorce Financial Checklist” (http://www.divorcedallastx.com/texas-divorce-financial-checklist/) which will give you a guideline on your financial information needed. Update this information immediately. Know who makes what and where all monies and assets are located. All banking and account information should be update for correct account numbers and balances. This will help you determine how much money you will need to live on and what you can plan on your part of the assets. This will also give you an idea on what funds you can use to hire a competent attorney to help you get through the divorce.
- RESEARCH PRIORITY ISSUES! Educate yourself on divorce issues, such as child custody and visitation, who gets the house, property separation, spousal maintenance and child support in your state. Prioritize what is important to you and prepare questions to ask an attorney on what your expectations should be. All or nothing does not work. Set Reasonable goals.
- START INTERVIEWING ATTORNEYS to find a good match to help you through this complicated divorce. Look for an attorney who deals with difficult family law cases concerning emotional/domestic abuse, high conflict individuals, or contested child custody. Even if you are served divorce papers, take your time finding an experienced attorney who will be your advocate in the divorce. DO NOT HIRE A NARCISSIST ATTORNEY! This would be a disaster!
- Help Plan your Divorce Game plan! No one knows your Narcissist spouse or family situation better than you. What arguments/facts will they come up with to hurt your position? Discuss your entire situation with you attorney and work together on your divorce approach. Your attorney will help you determine your final goals through experience from his previous experience in such matters.
- STAY REASONABLE AND TRY TO KEEP EMOTIONS STEADY! Don’t let your narcissist spouse turn you into a narcissist! You cannot win this way! Think logical, use true facts, and don’t go overboard financially battling with him/her. If this gets settled, goes to mediation, or ever a jury trial, it will be over and you will greatly improve your life.
You married a Narcissist and now you are divorcing him/her. You must be prepared knowing that your spouse will now be able to participate in the greatest show of their lives, “THE DIVORCE”. Your spouse will try to show what a horrible, ungrateful, unworthy person/parent you are and how badly you hurt your innocent victim/martyr spouse.
Irrelevant are your feelings and emotions. By thinking and planning your divorce strategy with a qualified attorney you will be prepared for battle and to live your life as you choose.
Remember the focal point of his/her narcissistic behavior is the fear of abandonment and threat to his/her self-worth. Be well-prepared for the battle ahead. The key is to not respond emotionally and let it drain you. Observe their behavior as a disorder, and don’t absorb it as a literal or personal attack on you.
If you mitigate for his/her drawn-out narcissistic rage and know that he/she may attempt to destroy you, you will less likely feel bullied or defeated. Be forewarned, you will be less victimized by something you expect.
Recently, we have encountered new “Conflict Laden Participants in Divorce” like Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, Alex Baldwin, and their Spouses who have shown us how not to get divorced!
Divorce Courts are full of people like this and they are called “High Conflict People” (HCP’s). Are you glad you are not married to one of these people or are you? HCP’s seem very caring and sincere and it may take months or years before a legal professional can identify this personality disorder. HCPs may cause enormous emotional pain and excessive financial costs to their spouse and children before this disorder is brought to light.
Bill Eddy, legal specialist of the High Conflict Institute, has given a list of:
The High Conflict Personality Pattern of HCP Personalities
- Rigid and uncompromising, repeating failed strategies
- Unable to heal or accept a loss
- Negative emotions dominate their thinking
- Won’t reflect on their own behavior
- Can’t empathize with others
- Preoccupied with blaming others
- Won’t accept any responsibility for problems or solutions
HCP’s stay unproductively connected to people through conflict and will continue to create conflict to maintain any sort of relationship, good or bad. Since HCP’s undermine all relationships, they constantly repeat their same patterns and usually end up divorcing repeated times. 20-30% of all couples getting divorces have at least one HCP spouse.
According to the High Conflict Institute, HCPS are driven by four primary fees:
- Fear of being ignored
- Fear of being belittled or publicity exposure
- Fear of being abandoned
- Fear of being dominated, includes fear of losing control over you, the other spouse, their money/assets, or themselves
What can the spouse of an HCP do to help bring the family conflict or divorce to completion?
- Tell your attorney what your bottom line is and stay with your decision.
- Maximize any leverage you have and stay on the course.
- Choose your battles carefully.
- Everything must be in writing.
- Work on keeping total & consistent emotional detachment from the HCP.
Just remember the HCP feels that since you are no longer together, and since you know too much about him/her, you must be discredited so that no one will think that they are the problem!
You will need to learn some pracetical skills on communication and response to your HCP and also when & how to let your attorney deal with this situation, how to enforce your guidelines, and hopefully, your thoughtful and reserved conduct will result in the best possible outcome.