Over the years we’ve helped many people work through their divorces from narcissistic partners, so this is something we’ve had a lot of experience with. It can be heartbreaking, scary, and very frustrating, not to mention extremely difficult. With that in mind, we’d like to share some pointers with you that we’ve learned over the years about what’s involved in co-parenting after a divorce. It’s not pretty, but it is possible.
You will never truly be able to co-parent
You need to recognize from the very start that this will not be a healthy co-parenting relationship, so you need to adjust your expectations accordingly. Your spouse will never be one of those parents who put their differences aside in favor of their child’s wellbeing. So in truth, you will never be ‘co-parenting.’ Instead, you’ll always be navigating a minefield. So go in with your eyes wide open, and a defensive strategy in place.
Keep contact with your ex to a minimum
Once the divorce is final and you’re in a position where the only contact you’re required to have with your ex is because of the children, keep it that way. Only reach out to them when you have something important about your children that needs to be shared. If your ex really is a narcissist, they will work hard to keep engaging you in a toxic psychological battle. Don’t let them. Don’t argue with them, don’t have unnecessary conversations with them, and don’t initiate any contact with them that isn’t kid-related and necessary for parenting.
Establish firm boundaries for your home and your children
Narcissists thrive on chaos. Your ex will work to upset you, destabilize your routines, and throw your world in madness. Don’t let them. Both you and your children deserve a home and a life that is safe, predictable, and structured, so work hard to create that. Set limits, make routines, and design a schedule that works best for your life. Then make a point of sticking to it as best as possible, and don’t allow your ex to upset the apple cart, as it were.
Be as calm, pleasant and rational as you can
Your ex is going to work very hard to make you look like the bad guy. They will manipulate situations to make it seem like you are the one who is abusive and unkind. They will engineer conversations, pressing all the right buttons, to make it look like you’re the one who can’t move on, when really it’s them. By yelling and screaming and reacting badly, you’re giving them exactly what they want. So deny them the pleasure. Be calm, courteous, and respectful, even if you’re screaming on the inside. It’s the only way to not let them get the better of you.
Limit your child’s contact with their other parent while they’re with you
Because a narcissist delights in causing drama, they will use your kids to add chaos to your life. If they can’t get to you directly, they’ll try to get to you through your kids. Don’t let them. While you can’t cut off all contact between your kids and their other parent while they’re with you, you can limit their access during your custodial or visitation time. So barring emergencies, don’t allow your child to talk on the phone or text with their other parent while they’re at your house. It will significantly reduce the amount of drama you have to put up with. (Don’t, however, defy court orders!)
Are you considering divorcing your narcissistic spouse?
If so, then you already know that you’re in for a serious battle, and the only way you’re going to come out on top is to make sure you have a highly skilled and experienced divorce lawyer. Preferably one who has handled many divorces where one of the spouses is a narcissist. So if this sounds like your situation, then call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245 and talk to one of our experienced family law attorneys. We’ve been doing this for decades and we’re very good at it. We can help you achieve success during this difficult time.