Because a narcissist may not see that their self-absorbed behavior makes productive discussions almost impossible, communicating with them during a divorce can be especially challenging. A narcissist may ‘play games’ via text or email or simply not respond to you at all. If you attempt to speak with them about marital issues like custody or child support, they may hijack the conversation and use it as an opportunity to blame you for the divorce.
While the most effective strategy is often to avoid communicating with a narcissist altogether, this may not be possible in a divorce setting when you have finances, joint property, and custody and support of children to discuss. To learn more about how to communicate during a divorce with a narcissist, get in touch with one of our Georgia attorneys.
If a narcissistic spouse is prone to anger, they could ultimately deny what was discussed or agreed upon regarding the division of property or the selling of the marital home, for example. It is therefore best to exchange written communications as opposed to verbal ones so a narcissistic spouse can’t twist the conversation to suit their needs.
Because narcissists think the world revolves around them, they often try to manipulate other parties to a divorce into believing their version of events. Without written communications, it may be challenging for a judge to determine who is telling the truth in a ‘he said, she said’ divorce with a narcissist.
One of the best ways to disarm a narcissist is to validate them. This does not mean you must agree with everything your narcissistic ex says. Instead, you could simply let the narcissist know that they are entitled to their feelings.
For example, a narcissistic spouse may insist on having custody of the children on Christmas day each year. Rather than calling them selfish or unreasonable, you could express understanding that the holiday is important to both of them, offer to share the day, and give the narcissist spouse first choice of the specific times they would like to have the children. If the narcissist feels that they are being ‘heard’ and that their wishes are prioritized, they may be more willing to compromise.
In Georgia, a judge may order spouses to attend at least one mediation session before proceeding with a divorce. A narcissist could use this as a forum to berate, belittle, and argue with their spouse. If you begin and end the mediation in separate rooms, the narcissist has less of an opportunity to berate you directly, and this often deflates him or her.
Not responding to a narcissist’s emails and texts can be an equally effective method of communication during divorce. If the judge finds that any interactions were intended to start a fight rather than resolve marital issues, not responding could demonstrate that you will not engage in the narcissist’s conflict. For example, if your ex sends you inflammatory messages about sharing your children during or post-divorce, you can show the court that you refuse to entertain their bad behavior by not responding. However, you should speak with an attorney regarding non-response approaches to ensure that you will not be seen as ignoring the situation.
Narcissists thrive on attention, and they may do whatever it takes to get it – including attacking your character to invoke a response. When this happens, you should remain calm and avoid engaging in confrontation with the narcissist.
Keeping emotions in check could be especially important in a family court setting where a judge will assess both parties’ characters and render a decision about your finances and children. Responding in a business-like manner may be challenging, but it could give the court an accurate picture of who was likely at fault for your marriage’s dissolution.
If you are divorcing a narcissist, their rigid, self-absorbed communication style can be draining and offensive. A skilled lawyer at our firm can deflect your ex’s verbal attacks and counter their lies with facts. Working with an attorney who understands narcissistic behavior may be crucial to effectively communicating during a divorce with a narcissist. Call our intake team today to learn more about how we can help.