There is a common thread that runs through many marriages to narcissists, especially when rumblings of a divorce are in the air. Before the lightening strikes it is not unusual for the narcissistic spouse to have taken all of the joint assets and whisked them away. The other partner is shocked that the narcissistic husband/wife claims that he doesn't have any money. The non-narcissistic spouse on the other end of this dreadful dilemma is left with confusion and anxiety. The spouse who has cunningly spirited away the financial assets is a master of control who knows where every penny is. This, despite the fact that he/she may be making a huge amount of money. Narcissists love to brag about their wealth but when it comes down to sharing it, forget it. They dole out small sums of money to the spouse, telling them how lucky they are to be leading such a fine lifestyle. They complain if you spend even a few dollars over what you are "allotted." Some narcissistic spouses will tell their wives that they will just have to sacrifice because times are rough. Meanwhile, the narcissistic spouse is indulging himself in every way--the more the better. Narcissists are chronic liars and betrayers---This is immutable. You cannot change these characteristics and don't try to discuss these matters with them. They will go into projection mode and blame everything on you. Every horrible thing that ever happened to them is your fault. You don't want to stir this up. You might not even need to stir--narcissists are projecting their venom all of the time.
Besides the financial matters, the narcissist is psychologically and emotionally eclipsing your life. With constant irrational demands, volcanic rages, criticisms that cut you to the quick and phoney crying jags--why would you waste the rest of your life with this person. Your vitality is sapped; your creative gifts are lying fallow; your sleep is disrupted. You have no inner peace.
If you decide the marriage is no longer working with the narcissist (and they don't) create your own plan well in advance of any statements about a separation or a divorce. Make sure that you have access to all of the information about your shared finances. I have heard too many times about women in particular that have been married to a narcissistic man for decades and who didn't know how much money was coming in from her spouse's wages, investment or properties. Many women are financially independent today and that is terrific. But in so many instances I hear very sad stories about women who are left with no means of support. They have a few rough choices. They can remain in the hellish marriage to the narcissist or they can leave with a paltry sum of money and start all over. Many of these women are well up in age and it would be very difficult for them to find a job that will sustain them. Be wise. Beat the narcissistic spouse at his/her own game. When you have hints or intuitions that the marriage is going south, start doing your research into the finances. Before that make sure that you have as much access to community property as your narcissistic spouse. Narcissists are cunning; they can "smell" divorce papers coming. So be clever, wake up, create your plan of action in detail. Talk with an expert attorney who knows how these conniving individuals operate and how divorce law works. Become highly informed. This way you have an edge on this man or woman who will leave you (and your children) with nothing as he moves on to his next big business deal and another woman (or man) whom he will engage in the same treacherous dance.
Recognize your value as an individual. Keep yourself healthy--physically, psychologically and emotionally. Don't wait for the narcissist to change. That is not going to happen---ever. These folks are great actors and they are clever at drawing you back in. Don't buy it. Once you know who the narcissist is, decide if you can tolerate sharing your life with this person or if it is time for you to make the move to sever the so-called partnership. To learn about every facet of the narcissistic personality disorder, visit my website:thenarcissistinyourlife.com
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.
Telephone Consultation: United States and International
Book: Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life