No divorce is emotionally painless. Very few are conflict-free. But if your divorce — probably like your marriage — falls into the high-conflict category of divorces, you may be married to/divorcing a spouse with a personality disorder and/or is highly manipulative.
What is a personality disorder? My layperson definition would be simply a person whose own bottomless emotional needs manipulatively control the relationship with their spouse and children to the exclusion of the needs of every other family member — usually with great long-term emotional harm to each family member.
Psychiatrists subdivide the personality disorder diagnostic category into several categories. They all have one thing in common — highly emotionally manipulative behavior focused solely on meeting their own unhealthy emotional “needs” often with zero awareness or concern for the needs of others, including you and your children. Future blogs will address each of these personality disorders in more detail.
How do these highly manipulative and completely self-centered spouses accomplish their cold and selfish manipulative goals? Often by subtly or more overtly making you, their spouse, feel like the crazy one. They will distort reality in many ways to avoid taking any responsibility for their behavior. They may turn your own words around to benefit them by making you feel like the guilty party. They will say something, perhaps make a commitment to you, and then claim they never said that or you misunderstood them. They may minimize your own problems/difficulties to ensure that their own paramount needs are always clearly more important in the relationship.
There are many other techniques. You are probably thinking now about the ones your spouse is using with you. They have an uncanny ability to hone in on the vulnerabilities of you, the sane, emotionally sensitive, genuinely caring spouse, and chip away at your self-esteem until you really do feel like you are the crazy one.
And here’s the really difficult part. They can be so charming and congenial to other people — at work, at social events, anywhere that is public —- and so convincing in their words and demeanor that other people readily believe you are the one with all of the problems. I’ve read about a ten-year old son who begged his mother to install cameras in their home so she could prove to other people what his father was really like at home.
If you have decided to exit this relationship, you already know this is not an easy road to travel. You need and deserve a therapist with expertise in dealing with personality disorders/highly manipulative spouses who can help you recognize and move past the damage to your own self-esteem and core identity inflicted by your spouse. Depending on the ages and severity of your spouse’s disordered thinking and behavior, your children may need and deserve their own therapists. Let your experienced and trusted therapist help guide you in that decision.
You will also need, and this is crucial if you are divorcing your spouse, a very experienced attorney who understands and recognizes your spouse as a highly manipulative, psychologically disordered person. Choosing an attorney with extensive family law experience, coupled with the attorney’s deep exposure to and understanding of personality disordered/highly manipulative spouses, will greatly increase your chances of hiring the right attorney with the special skills absolutely needed to maintain control over legal proceedings involving a highly manipulative spouse.
Jeanne Coleman, Esq. has the deep family law experience, the knowledge, and the special skills to represent you and your children’s best interests in a divorce involving this type of spouse. Jeanne is a compassionate but tough litigator who will recognize your spouse’s attempts to smear/destroy you and your children for what they are — and maintain a tight rein on the divorce proceedings to ensure a full and fair representation of your case to the divorce judge. Call her office today for a free, confidential twenty-minute consultation.
No divorce is emotionally pain-free, very few divorces are without conflict. If your spouse is personality disordered/highly manipulative, your are going to be in a war. Jeanne Coleman is the right litigator to represent you.