Most narcissists get divorced

13 Important Tips When Getting Divorced From A Narcissist

Most people will understandably do almost anything to avoid going to court for a number of reasons including the financial cost, loss of privacy, the inevitable calcification of the antagonism between you and someone you married, the pain, the Children and other family members cause members and fear of placing their life in the hands of a total stranger sitting on a bench in front of a courtroom. (Not to mention all of these films -Kramer versus Kramer, The war of the roses, The squid and the whale- these are cautionary stories, the horror stories that go on the internet and those of people you know.)

Despite the attention given to divorce cases that play out in court, especially when someone is rich or famous, the reality is that only about 5% of divorces end up before a judge. About 95% of couples either work on it themselves or use mediation or collaborative divorce techniques to minimize the harm and financial costs.

However, the usual considerations that keep people out of court and make mediation and settlement alternatives do not apply to those who live on the other end of the country's narcissistic spectrum. I asked two experts - a litigation attorney, Mary Kirkpatrick (Disclosure: She was my attorney) and Craig Malkin, practicing therapist, blogger on this site and author of Rethinking Narcissism- to help me untangle the threads of what creates an excruciating mess for most people.

Source: Syda Productions / Shutterstock

The question of gender

In this piece, I've used the pronouns he and she use to avoid accusations of biasing, although there are a few facts to keep in mind.

The first is that at the other end of the narcissistic spectrum (for the sake of simplicity we'll refer to people at this extreme as "narcissists") men two to one more than women. Yes, twice. That makes it more likely that it is the husband when there is a narcissist in the courtroom. That doesn't mean it will never be the woman. Malkin said, “The largest review of gender differences and narcissism to date suggests that this gender gap is mainly due to the fact that men tend to be more aggressive than women - and unlike women, they are often encouraged to be exploited To pose. legitimate behaviors that characterize narcissistic personality disorder. "

The second is that 60-69 percent of all divorces in the United States are initiated by women; This has been historically consistent since the 19th and 20th centuries and is still true today. This is a counterintuitive statement: divorce generally lowers and improves the standard of living for women for women, and men are more likely to remarry than their female counterparts. Unsurprisingly, law, psychology, and sociology researchers wanted to know why.

In their study published in American Law and Economics ReviewMargaret Brinig and Douglas Adams concluded that the issue of custody led women to file files first and give them primary caretaker-at least temporary custody. Attorney Kirkpatrick believes this could also be because the woman knows she will likely receive 50 percent of the marital property, alimony if qualified, and alimony for children. This is possibly better than continuing a marriage to a financial tyrant or a spendthrift.

However, Stanford sociologist Michael Rosenfeld took a different approach and compared initiating a divorce with separating unmarried, heterosexual, cohabiting and non-cohabiting couples. Rosenfeld specifically looked at some of the suggested explanations as to why women tend to initiate divorce:

  • 1. The increased sensitivity of women to relationship problems leads to them being more dissatisfied.
  • 2. Marriage is a factory of traditional gender expectations, backed by the finding that women still have two-thirds of household responsibilities. and
  • 3. an imbalance of power by gender.

He found that cohabiting and non-cohabiting couples showed no gender imbalance when it came to breaking up. Each party would be equally likely to end the relationship. Interestingly, 32 percent of couples living together and 36 percent of couples not living together said the decision was mutual, compared to 19 percent of marriages in which partners reported reciprocity in the divorce decision.

Rosenfeld concluded that it is the gendered nature of the institution of marriage itself that is responsible for women who initiate divorce. Obviously, initiating a divorce does not mean that that person intends to land before a judge. A person can submit first as a tactic for starting negotiations.

About the narcissist

Let's start with why - despite all the real reasons a reasonable person would be highly motivated to stay out of court - the narcissist is very likely to end up in it.

1. He or she is there to win it.

While there are no real “winners” in a divorce - with luck, there is a fair division of responsibilities and assets - this is not the narcissist's point of view. He or she likely sees himself or herself as a victim regardless of the facts and has no intention of meeting in the middle so you can forget about negotiation or mediation. The ultimate goal is to have been proven right and the narcissist will do everything possible to achieve it. "One of my clients," Malkin says, "went through hell with a man who had enjoyed three affairs during his marriage, and regularly spent his vacation pay on his trysts. He tried to convince the judge that my client had one Had an affair (she wasn't) while sending long pleading letters asking, "Why are you doing this to me?" For many narcissists, the truth is not all relative. It's optional. "

2. He or she is a gamer.

Studies show that this is the narcissist's relationship pattern - maintaining power and edge by throwing others off balance - and he or she is not going to change just because you go to court. Playing the system will be the first line of defense and as we will see the family court system can be played. "This is especially dangerous if your narcissistic ex is the extrovert, charming guy with a lot of money to burn," says Malkin. "You tend to file endless motions and make empty (false) accusations of 'negligence'. Upbringing, for example, wasting everyone's time. It is often an attempt to wear you down."

3. He or she does not count emotional losses.

Impaired empathy is one of the hallmarks of pathological narcissism, and what it shows is total disregard for how someone - including their spouse and, more importantly, children - could be hurt by gambling or other behaviors. It literally does not occur to the narcissist because the focus is solely on him or her. nothing else is really important than satisfying personal needs and desires. Unfortunately, that keeps most of us in the relatively straight and narrow space of stressful situations like divorce and the tendency to get out of court are our concerns about other people - how they might be affected or hurt, how they think about our behavior, and how this affects our future relationships. Not the narcissist. He or he will likely indulge in what military strategists call a scorched earth policy - leaving nothing behind. Unfortunately, this often includes the children of marriage who become ignorant farmers in the narcissist's strategy. As explained below, the narcissist's gender actually plays a role here, especially if there is no agreement on child custody or child support.

4. By engaging you in a legal battle, the narcissist is still using you to feel powerful.

Narcissists need to self-regulate in relationship, and as he pulls you through the courtroom he or she will feel an exciting wave of power and control. If the narcissist just lets you go, he or she would need to find someone to meet the need. Unfortunately, this also means that the narcissist doesn't care how long the process takes - which is surprising but true. Again, most people want to leave behind the hassle and stress of divorce and all of the negotiation and give and take that comes with it. That just doesn't apply to the narcissist, which makes it a lot harder to compete against you. "It's a way to stay connected," says Malkin. "Better to be your enemy than to become nobody in your eyes."

5. He or she wants you to surrender.

It's not enough for him to be able to say that he or she has won - the narcissist needs a symbolic trophy to prove it and the easiest way to do it is for you to fold your tents and walk away. Defeating other people makes the narcissist feel good, and going to court is often fought as a war of attrition.

How the narcissist changes the nature of divorce

It is likely that you ended up in court for refusing to discuss the terms on a reasonable basis. If you go to court and let a judge decide, the narcissist may be more comfortable because he or she doesn't have to take responsibility for the outcome, especially if it isn't favorable. This doesn't sound like intuitive, but the narcissist doesn't want to give anything up willingly and the judicial system assures that whether he wins or loses is not his fault. Paradoxically, cession control allows the narcissist to maintain the illusion of control. In addition, the process is likely to include:

1. The strategy of disability

Depending on which state you live in, a family court can take a long time, and the narcissist will instruct his attorney to eat as much of it as possible. Be prepared for many requests, requests for more time and delays, "emergencies" and the like. No matter which of you is the plaintiff, the narcissist will be the self-described victim in all of his or her submissions. The thing is, the narcissist only believes in his or her truth, even if it tests credibility. Narcissists may not be averse to lying in sworn documents even about things that can easily be shown as not true because showing them not to be true takes more time and paper (and legal costs) - and that is part of the strategy . Kirkpatrick notes that other tactics may include delaying when he or she believes it may help or get under your skin, not showing up at court hearings, including misleading information in filings and appeals that are then to be challenged and incomplete Disclosing Information So There are additional rounds of correspondence and discovery inquiries for attorneys, and legal costs continue to rise. Since the narcissist is an expert on self-expression (and believes in his own superiority), the judge is assumed to believe his story. (And if he or she is rich and outwardly successful and you are less so, the trick might work just fine.)

2. Refuse to negotiate or settle.

Again, time is an arrow in the narcissist's quiver and he or she also knows that the longer the process, the easier it is to manipulate and apply pressure. He or she is counting on it. Since a narcissist is a gambler by nature, Kirkpatrick reports: "There are patterns of dealing with a narcissist in settlement negotiations. They make low-ball offers or offers that are obviously objectionable. They do not respond to all aspects of the proposal, so there are always negotiating chips out there to pause the negotiation or start over, and they don't respond to the questions put in. Don't expect to do business in good faith.

"You lack the ability to negotiate towards a middle ground. You will likely take the same position over and over, even if the facts and circumstances have changed."

3. Run up your bills.

Yes, money is used as a stick in most cases. The narcissist will most likely see it as a necessary expense - if he or she actually intends to end up paying his lawyer.

4. Paint black.

Yes, whatever jello or mud is available, true or not, is thrown to see what is stuck to the wall. You should be willing to be in a bad mood both in the paperwork and in the courtroom itself and around the world - this is part of a lack of empathy, a lack of interest in relational consequences, and a desire to win regardless of the cost. Kirkpatrick notes that these records then have to be defended or corrected, which costs more time and money and of course opens the door to the judge who believes the narcissist. Additionally, Kirkpatrick comments that it is also typical of the narcissist's efforts to pollute the water, damage reputation, and get his story out - new friends, old, family members, and people connected to your work and profession Children as they gather support for themselves.

5. Keep going to court even after a settlement or divorce.

For all of the above reasons, the narcissist will likely continue to use the judicial system to resolve real disputes and pronounce new ones. As mentioned earlier, the narcissist plays the system. When children are involved, Kirkpatrick tells me, "It's endless. The lack of back-and-forth communication, not sharing schedules, appointments, or itineraries, signing children up for activities that go on without notice and discussion Both parenting time falling when the parents do not have the legal authority to do so is pretty typical after a conflicted divorce. Add that you are trying to get the child's psychological record without legal authority, invading the child's privacy and not bills Then there is the warfare, which is less than clandestine: sending frequent emails complaining, harassing, and showing that he or she is grilling the kid or kids about the other parent or household and the parenting received All of this can become problems that the narcissist knows must be resolved by the courts.

What to look out for

This is some general advice that should be discussed with your lawyer. Given the mental stress that a controversial divorce puts on you, it is probably advisable that you also hire a therapist to keep you as stable and productive as you can be proactive - rather than reactive - as possible. "A good therapist," says Malkin, "should talk to you about the possibility." Post-traumatic stress disorder, common in abuse survivors, although the only serial abuse was infidelity. Remember that your lawyer is not a therapist and your therapist is not a lawyer.

1. Make sure your attorney is aware of the problem and is proactive

It's not always obvious that there is a narcissist in the mix, especially when he or she appears to be well-spoken and wealthy. Self-expression goes a long way in deceiving people. In fact, your ex's narcissistic tendencies may only show fully during the divorce process, as the narcissist shows their true colors during a conflict. Discuss the patterns of your future ex's responses and the best way to deal with them, and make sure your side has a strategy. If your ex is acting as his own attorney, you need to be careful too.Kirkpatrick also recommends, "If your attorney is unfamiliar with this type of difficulty personality, you must either change attorney or give the attorney an incredibly solid instruction in the actions you want to use to set limits. It is best to change attorney because you are vulnerable as a client and do not need to know, explicitly or implicitly, that “it's on your head” or “nothing to be done.” She also recommends that you develop support by starting therapy, as this type of divorce is emotional and is mentally exhausting.

2. Keep copies of everything, especially expenses

Even if you've never been a great record holder, this is the time to become one. When this case turns into a contradicting storyline situation where he / she said / said, collect all the evidence you can. "This is extremely important," says Malkin. "It has helped more than one of my clients discredit their ex's lies."

3. Stay cool and avoid the traps

Don't indulge your anger in voicemail or send emails and texts that can be construed as harassing or demeaning, especially when children are involved. “The restraint of the pen and tongue is key. Know how risky all communication with a narcissistic ex is as he or she is likely to edit your texts and emails to share with others, his or her new co-workers in the inner circle. Remember that the narcissist has to control the story because of his or her low self-esteem and the need to be seen as the 'good guy or girl', "Kirkpatrick says in front of your kids or the people he's hanging out with there they return to him and stir up more retribution. "

Even if your spouse uses the kids to score points, try to hit the country road. "Your kids will appreciate that you kept your relationship with your ex out of conversation with them," says Malkin. "After all, they see their narcissistic parents' mud slaughter for what it is: an attempt to manipulate their own children. And so the narcissist inevitably loses the game."

Kirkpatrick adds, "You're marginalizing yourself if you just focus on the next right step."

That said, the damage these divorces do to families and family finances is very real, as is the stress of having to endure one and, when there are children, the tremendous burden of a fragile and prolonged divorce, a feeling of trust and security. But the better prepared you are legally and psychologically, the better you will be.

Craig Malkin, Ph.D., is a psychologist, writer, lecturer at Harvard Medical School, and director of YM Psychotherapy & Counseling, which offers psychotherapy and couple workshops. As a blogger for Sisters of Social Service Buffalo and the Huffington Post, he writes frequently on psychology and relationships, and works with media such as time, The New York Timesand NPR. His new book is Rethinking Narcissism.

Maria G. Kirkpatrick is a litigator whose Vermont practice has included complicated divorce cases since 1986. She has extensive experience researching divorce and custody, having worked with national and state experts on parental alienation, personality disorder and divorce, and the effects of divorce on the family system.

Copyright 2016 Peg Streep


Brinig, Margaret F. and Douglas W. Allen, "These Boots Are Made for Walking": Why Most Divorce Records Are Women " American Law and Economics Review(2000), Vol. 2, 126-169.

Rosenfeld, Michael J. “Who wants the separation? Gender and separation in heterosexual couples. "

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