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How to combat narcissistic abuse during a divorce

On Behalf of | Jun 4, 2024 | Divorce |

Shortly after the “honeymoon phase” of your marriage was over, you realized that your spouse had a dark side. Eventually, you realized they were a narcissist or deeply narcissistic in their behavior and you decided to get out.

Divorce is going to be a challenge. Narcissists cannot stand losing power and control over others, nor can they tolerate rejection – so you can expect to become the target of all their rage and abuse. 

How do you protect yourself during this time? Here are some tips:

Establish firm boundaries

You need to put some emotional distance between you, and there’s no better way to do that than by insisting that all communications go through legal channels. If you must communicate with your spouse directly for any reason, do it in writing. 

Stick to business

Keep all your communications short, factual and as emotionless as possible – even if your spouse is attacking your character, playing the victim or trying to goad you into a heated response. Pretend every email you write is a business letter and practice your “corporate responses.” 

For example, if your spouse sends an outrageous email that’s packed with falsehoods, don’t try to argue with them or fire back with any truth. Instead, respond the way you would if this were a business dispute by saying something like, “We seem to have different recollections of the events in question. Your concerns can be addressed at the next mediation session.”

Control your physical reactions

Narcissistic people thrive on upsetting or unsettling the targets of their rage – so practice a cultivated air of indifference, no matter how outrageous they behave or what horrible threats they may make.

This is called “gray rocking,” because you want to make yourself about as emotive as an actual rock. If you shrug off their attempts to rattle you long enough, they will eventually grow frustrated and tired enough to move on.

Divorce is seldom easy, but divorcing a narcissist takes a special strategy. Make sure to discuss the situation carefully once you seek legal guidance.