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How to Deal with a Narcissistic Ex Husband
If you have been married to and divorced a narcissistic guy, you already know the implications of dealing with a person who can never ever put anything else before him – not his wife, kids, a life of mutual love and adjustment, not even common courtesy. Everything has to be about him, revolve around him. An ex husband with such an attitude can keep on creating numerous problems unless you deal with him in a specific manner.
Keep in mind what he is like
A divorce always entails severe costs – emotional, practical and financial. The process is somewhat eased when amicably parting with a normal man but in case of a narcissistic personality, everything will be that much harder. There are two situations when you can find yourself dealing with a narcissistic ex-husband; one in which you opted for divorce because it had become impossible to put up with his narcissism and the other when you left because of other reasons but now find yourself dealing with a narcissistic personality. In the second case, your spouse may have been self-centered or self preoccupied, but he related relatively normally. In marriage, this can be annoying, but it's not a game changer. Then the stress of the divorce unlocked something that had not existed before—and now you find yourself dealing with a full-fledged narcissist. So whether you remember what it was like to have been married to this guy or are just now witnessing the full manifestation of his narcissism, keep in mind that it is going to be extremely difficult dealing with him after the divorce. This is a person who believes that the sun goes around him – that the only purpose of the world’s existence is to cater to his needs, demands and comforts. In other words, he is incapable of putting anyone or anything else before him. Unfortunately, an ex like this tends to worsen with divorce because he hates the loss of control; as an ex-husband thus he is likely to be constantly unreasonable and unfair. He will probably cancel visitation schedules just to suit his own whims and then turn up announced to take the kids out just because the idea has caught this fancy that day. On a deeper level, he will probably be equally frustrating on issues like alimony and child support and you will have to dig into all your reserves of patience not to let it get you down.
Do not try to please him
Whether your ex was a full-blown or closet narcissist, always keep in mind that nothing can you do will change him. You may be tempted to think that now you both are divorced, you can start off on a new more amicable note. But it is simply not in the nature of a narcissistic personality to consider anything from another person’s point of view. So you are wrong if you think that if you please him today, tomorrow will be a better day. Such ex's may be nice outwardly, but there is often an ulterior motive, and once you stand up for yourself, you will feel the full force of his selfishness and wrath. Lamenting about how unfair it all is—or worse—hoping that he will now change and be nice if only you just give in this one time will only deplete you of your emotional resources, something which you cannot afford at this difficult time.
Avoid direct contact, as far as possible
Even though have managed to get out of an unhappy marriage, there would be lots of procedures which will involve you both. And at such times your ex will try every trick in the trade to rule out all your demands and concerns. It is best you communicate with him through your lawyer. Do not get directly involved in any arguments as it will create immense stress for you. He might try to provoke you and get you to your peaks of frustration. Avoiding direct contact will lessen his chances of baiting you and you may be able to devote more time and effort on building a future life.
Choose not to react
There may be some times though when you cannot avoid meeting your ex face to face. On such occasions keep in mind that even though you cannot change the nature of your ex, it is surely within your power to control your own actions. And the cardinal rule to dealing with narcissists is to stop reacting. Even when he is no longer married to you, he will try to create situations which can make you scream out in rage and frustration. This is exactly what he wants you to do so avoid playing his game. Be patient and simply turn a deaf ear to all he has to say. Remember he is no longer a part of your life and so there is no need for you to worry about anything he says or demands. At the same time note that a narcissist will almost certainly look good in public but infuriate you in private. If he humiliates you in word or deed, refrain from any acts of violence or perceived violence. An accomplished narcissist often has a strong public presence and later you may be the one to blame in the eyes of the law. All this is rather unfair, but it is best you accept this reality and act pragmatically.
When kids are in the picture
While dealing with a narcissistic ex may still be possible on your own, when kids enter the picture, it can all get quite complicated. Since your ex is also your kids’ father, you cannot openly show your distrust and dislike of the man. Try to be objective about your ex as far as possible in front of the kids. However when dealing with him directly, stress on limits. For instance, on visitation, keep to the letter of the agreement because he may take advantage of any ambiguities—and always with a "good" reason. If things get worse and you find your ex poisoning your kids’ mind against you, take stronger measures like refusing to communicate with your ex unless it can be done in a manner free of conflict, manipulation and disrespect. If problems persist, seek the help of a counselor or even therapist who will not only help you to deal with a narcissistic ex but also find ways in which your children can keep in touch with their father in a healthy, non-manipulative context.
Finally live life to the full. Do the things you enjoy so that the batteries of your spirit remain recharged; this way you will prevent the stress of dealing with a narcissistic ex from getting to you. Rediscover old hobbies or explore new interests. Meet up with friends from your past but also be open to making new connections. The richer, more fulfilling your own life is, the lesser a narcissistic ex matter to you and your family.