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Divorcing a Narcissist

Anytime a married couple decides to end that marriage the subsequent divorce process can become contentious. If your spouse is a narcissist, however, the likelihood of an adversarial divorce increases significantly. That does not mean you cannot make it through the divorce process in one piece though. A Criminal attorneyMurfreesboro divorce attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby discusses some potential pitfalls and helpful tips if you are divorcing a narcissist.

What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

It is hardly unusual for one party in a troubled marriage to claim that their spouse is self-centered. Sometimes, however, that claim has merit. In fact, if you have often felt that your spouse is incapable of considering your needs or feelings, he/she may have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). According to the Mayo Clinic, NPD is a “mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”

Signs that Your Spouse May Be a Narcissist

Only a trained and licensed mental health professional can diagnose and treat someone with NPD; however, some common signs that might indicate your spouse is a narcissist include:

  • An exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • A sense of entitlement that requires constant, excessive admiration
  • Expects to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
  • Exaggerates achievements and talents
  • Preoccupation with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
  • Believes they are superior and can only associate with equally special people
  • Monopolizes conversations and belittles or looks down on people they perceive as inferior
  • Expects special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations
  • Takes advantage of others to get what they want
  • An inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
  • Envious of others and believe others envy them
  • Behaves in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious
  • Insists on having the best of everything — for instance, the best car or office

Why Divorcing a Narcissist Is Difficult

Any divorce can become a battleground; however, when you are divorcing a narcissist there is a heightened chance of this happening. Knowing that, it is in your best interest to plan accordingly. Because a narcissist tends to always see themself as the victim, and they do not handle criticism or “failure” well, they are likely to approach divorce as a battle to be won at all costs. Anticipate that your spouse will try and “attack” where he/she thinks it will hurt you most. This could be finances, friends and family, or your children. The best way to limit the negative impact of a narcissistic spouse during a divorce is to plan ahead. For example:

  • Prepare your finances. Your soon-to-be ex may try and cut off your access to money and resources. Do not close out a joint bank account nor withdraw more than your share; however, assume that your spouse will try and restrict access and plan accordingly.
  • Copy documents. Make sure you have copies of important documents and paperwork such as vehicle titles, the deed to the house, bank statements, Wills, trusts, life insurance policies, passports, and anything else you think you might need.
  • Protect your children. A narcissist will often try and use the children to get back at his/her spouse for “causing the family to break up.” If your children are old enough, talk to them as frankly and honestly as possible. Consider counseling for your children as well.
  • Talk to friends and family.  While it can be an uncomfortable conversation, it may be best to explain to friends and family what is going on instead of letting your spouse put his/her spin on the situation first.
  • Retain an experienced attorney.  Getting through a divorce amicably is rarely possible when one party suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. If you know, or suspect, that your spouse is a narcissist, the need to consult with an experienced divorce attorney prior to moving forward with the divorce increases exponentially.

Contact a Murfreesboro Divorce Attorney 

If you have additional questions or concerns about divorcing a narcissist, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro divorce attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.


Stan Bennett