Over the years, the person you thought you married may have fallen away. What you are left with is a person who refuses to take responsibility for his or her actions and blames everyone else for his or her failings. Your spouse may lack empathy and blame you for everything that goes wrong -- even, or especially if it wasn't your fault.
If this describes your spouse, then you married a narcissist. Now that you want to get out of the marriage by filing for divorce, those behaviors will more than likely only intensify. A narcissist can't be wrong, and your spouse may fight tooth and nail to portray the role of the victim and to "make you pay" for leaving. You may want to prepare yourself for a highly contentious divorce.
Know what you're up against
A narcissist will attempt to undermine you at every turn. If you want custody of your children, he or she will attempt to make you look unfit to parent. Your soon-to-be ex-spouse knows your emotional buttons and will continuously push each of them in order to get a reaction out of you that makes you look irrational and overly emotional. Don't take the bait!
Once you engage in a debate with your future former spouse based on his or her choice of topic, you are headed down a dangerous road. Remember that nothing you say or do will change this person's mind, and if you try, they tend to only dig in deeper to fuel the fire. It's nearly impossible to have rational conversations with narcissists, especially when they feel backed into a corner.
Seek out the right help
It probably won't take you long to realize that you can't get through the divorce alone. You may seek out any and all support that you need in order to get through this difficult time. While other California couples may have the ability to work out their divorce issues through mediation, collaborative divorce or private negotiations, you will more than likely be facing a courtroom battle.
You may greatly benefit from enlisting the aid of an attorney who understands the challenges of divorcing a narcissist and who knows how to keep the proceedings on track.
Document everything and watch your back
A narcissist will do just about anything to make you look bad during the proceedings. In addition to trying to bait you into an argument in public, he or she may attempt to twist your words in voice mails, text messages, and emails. Your best course of action may be to simply limit your communications as much as possible. If you have to communicate, document everything and watch what you say. A narcissist will attempt to turn even an innocent comment around on you.
You may receive verbally abusive communications from your future ex-spouse as well. Make sure that you keep them. Provide your attorney with copies of these communications and any other documentation you have regarding your interactions. As the saying goes, "the best defense is a good offense." If you keep your guard up and remain calm, you can get through the divorce process with a final decree with which you can live.