So, you’ve discovered that you are married to a narcissist – at least, you think so.
Divorce might be the answer, but, for most people, it should be a last resort – more likely, your first question should be, “how do I handle a difficult marriage?”
Learning coping skills, seeking a support group, and taking care of your mental health while not assigning 100% of the blame to your partner may help you to decide whether this is something you must run from or whether this is simply a rough patch that you will be able to work through.
If you believe you are married to a narcissist, and the marriage seems unbearable at times, consider:
- Seeking marriage counseling before making a major life decision like divorce,
- A trial separation with mediated custody or property agreements in place to protect you, or
- Divorce, as a last resort.
Married to a Narcissist… What Now?
“He only thinks of himself, and he won’t listen to me!” Or, “Her jealousy is tearing us apart!”
Both are signs of “narcissistic personality disorder” – and an inability to talk about the problems that are destroying a marriage inevitably leads to thoughts of divorce and escape.
Is my husband or wife a narcissist?
Possibly, but, as you may have discovered, attempting to diagnose your partner and point out their narcissism is not likely to resolve conflicts in the home.
Could marriage counseling possibly help when everything feels so hopeless?
Attempting to Repair the Marriage: Marriage Counseling
In many cases, marriage counseling does help, even in what feels like a hopeless situation.
One thing your marriage counselor is not likely to do, however, is diagnose your spouse and label them a narcissist. You may believe that they are a narcissist, but, unless they admit they are a narcissist, and they are willing to work on it, accusing them with what probably sounds like name-calling to them is not likely to produce helpful results.
Different marriage counselors have different philosophies and take different approaches to help couples heal, but your therapist may help you to:
- Learn effective communication patterns – whether the message you are sending is the message your partner intended you to receive, whether the message you are receiving is truly the message your partner intended to receive, and how to actively listen and hear your partner.
- Find the parts of your marriage that are worth saving – focusing on the core foundation of your relationship for a time can help couples to remember why they were married in the first place and why their marriage is worth fighting for.
- Understand that many couples must work through “rough patches” to get the full benefit of a lasting relationship.
- Understand that conflict often leads to growth, and this is especially true in what seems like a difficult marriage.
- Concentrate on what you can change to help your partner – for the most part, we can only change ourselves – trying to change our partner only intensifies the conflict.
- Reconnect with your spouse – even when it feels forced, you may be surprised at how a touch, a hug, a kiss, a kind word, or a gift of flowers can bring a couple together again.
We have seen enough troubled marriages to understand that divorce is the right answer for many couples – no one can answer that question but you and your spouse. You don’t have to live in misery, and no one should remain in a dangerous or abusive situation for the sake of preserving a marriage.
But, for most couples, divorce should be a last resort.
Should You Divorce a Narcissist?
You’ve tried counseling, and it has not worked for you and your spouse. Or you are in counseling, and you are going to keep trying, but your situation at home is unbearable. What now?
Many couples separate as they continue to work on their relationship, and some of those couples reconcile when they find that divorce is not the answer for them. Before filing a divorce complaint and asking the family court to dissolve your marriage, you may want to consider a trial separation – living separately as you consider your options with a bit of breathing room.
If you are considering separation, however, you should also protect yourself with a separation agreement that specifies how your marital property will be divided if you follow through with the divorce and that resolves the questions of alimony, child support, child custody, and child visitation.
Mediated Custody Agreements and Property Agreements
Mediation allows you to sit down with your spouse/ other parent and work through issues with a neutral third party. Working with an effective mediator can help you to resolve:
- Disputes over the division of marital property,
- Questions of alimony and child support,
- Child custody and child visitation schedules, and
- Any issues that the family court would decide for you if you don’t reach an agreement.
Mediation may be mandatory if you file an action for separate support and maintenance or divorce in SC’s family courts. If either party files an action, , a successful mediation will save money and will make the process go smoother – most divorces are resolved in mediation before the parties ever set foot in a courtroom.
Mediation is also a common method for reaching a separation agreement between spouses that are considering divorce but haven’t taken that step yet. Later, if you do file for divorce and if you are still in agreement, the family court may decide to simply adopt your separation agreement and incorporate it into your divorce decree.
Divorce as a Last Resort
When you have done all that you can, but divorce still seems the only solution for you and your spouse, there is no reason to feel guilty about it – it is difficult, but you are not alone, and approximately half of all marriages end in divorce.
Depending on your situation, you may seek:
- A contested divorce on grounds of adultery, physical cruelty, abandonment, or habitual drunkenness, or
- An uncontested divorce on grounds of one year’s continuous separation.
In either case, you and your spouse should attempt to reach an agreement on all contested issues before walking into the courtroom, and, in many cases, mediation will be mandatory before your case is scheduled for trial.
Questions About Marital Counseling, Mediation, or Divorce?
Your SC divorce attorney at Leviner Law Firm can help you to decide the best course of action, negotiate a separation agreement, find an experienced mediator, or file for divorce.
Give us a call at (843) 501-0602 or contact us through our website to set up a free initial consultation and find out how we can help.