About half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce, and each one is unique. If you’re facing a divorce, there’s a good chance that things will get messy. And if your spouse is manipulative, that’s only going to worsen things. They can use their manipulation tactics to try to control the situation, make you feel powerless, and take advantage of you.
Here are some tips for navigating a messy divorce with a manipulative spouse to protect yourself and your interests.
1. Keep communication to a minimum.
The less you communicate with your spouse, the better. Anytime you engage in conversation, there’s a risk that things will escalate and that you’ll end up saying something you’ll regret. So, it’s best just to avoid communication altogether. If you have to communicate, do so in writing and through your lawyer.
Many people think they need to have a cordial relationship with their ex to make the divorce process go smoothly. But that’s not always the case. In fact, it’s often better to have as little contact as possible. When you do have to communicate, be direct, clear, and concise. This will help to avoid any misunderstandings.
2. Be prepared for dirty tactics.
Manipulative people often stoop to low levels to get what they want. They may try to turn the kids against you or spread rumors about you. They might even try to sabotage your career. So, you must be prepared for these dirty tactics and have a plan for how to deal with them if they arise.
One common tactic is gaslighting, when someone tries to make you question your reality. For example, they might say something like, “I never said that,” even though you know they did. Or, they might make you feel like you’re overreacting to something. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s essential to stay calm and remember that you know what actually happened.
Another tactic is painting you as an abuser. This can be especially effective if your spouse is the one who committed domestic violence. They might try to convince others that you’re the abusive one to gain sympathy and support. If this happens, it’s essential to have evidence that disproves their claims, including photos, medical records, and witness statements. This is a complex situation where an experienced domestic violence lawyer can be extremely helpful.
3. Keep your cool.
It can be challenging to keep your emotions in check when you’re dealing with a manipulative spouse, but you must do your best to stay calm and level-headed. Letting your emotions get the best of you will only give your spouse more ammunition to use against you. The law may also view you more favorably if you remain calm and collected.
So, how do you keep your cool? First, remember that this is just a temporary situation and will eventually end. Second, try to take breaks when things start to get overwhelming. This can be difficult, but giving yourself time to de-stress and recharge is essential. Finally, don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you need it. A therapist can teach you how to deal with your emotions healthily and provide support during this difficult time.
4. Get support from friends and family.
Dealing with a divorce is challenging enough without having to deal with a manipulative spouse as well. That’s why it’s essential to lean on your friends and family for support during this difficult time. Let them know what’s going on and ask them to be there for you emotionally and logistically (e.g., helping with childcare). They can also be a great source of information and advice.
Ask them not to take sides but to be a sounding board for you as you make decisions about your divorce. And, if they have experience with manipulative people, they may be able to offer helpful insights. Don’t be afraid to lean on your support system during this difficult time.
5. Seek professional help if necessary.
Finally, if you’re struggling to cope with the stress of the situation, don’t be afraid to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor who can help you manage your emotions and deal with the situation healthily. Many people find it helpful to talk to someone who is objective and can offer impartial advice.
If you’re dealing with a difficult divorce, remember that you’re not alone. There are many resources available to help you through this challenging time. Always remember to put your safety and well-being first and seek professional help if necessary. With time and patience, you will get through this and come out stronger on the other side.