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COVID-19 And Divorce: Effective Child and Spousal Support Strategies

COVID-19 And Divorce: Effective Child and Spousal Support Strategies

Many guys across the United States are facing a severe economic strain due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Divorced fathers, in particular, are being hit hard as they try to figure out how they are going to make their child support payments.

 Cordell & Cordell’s latest Virtual Town Hall reviewed strategies men can utilize during this time to modify child support or alimony.

File quickly

In the town hall, Cordell & Cordell’s divorce attorneys explained the vital importance of filing quickly as to set a retroactive date that will lead to relief.

“They really should be looking county to county,” Cordell & Cordell Mississippi Litigation Attorney Jerrod Rayborn said. “Initially, with the filings for support or divorce, there was a big slowdown, but that has started to speed up.

“Depending on what county you are in, some counties you can go directly into the clerk and file it, and it’s done that day. Other counties, you have to leave it in a Dropbox.”

Gathering important information

When seeking a modification, it is your responsibility to help your divorce attorney as much as possibly by gathering relevant financial records.

“Whenever you file a motion to modify, whether you’re modifying alimony or modifying child support, you’re going to want information on not only your own finances, but what your ex is going through during this pandemic,” Cordell & Cordell Oklahoma Litigation Attorney Carly Haiduk said. “Issuing, even if it’s just a few discover requests, can be beneficial.”

Although the discovery process might seem a little invasive, it is important for proving to the court why a modification is necessary.

“Discovery is just the process for getting information from the other side,” Ms. Haiduk said. “For example, in Oklahoma, when you file a motion to modify, you can ask 30 questions under oath. You can ask your ex if she’s earning any extra income at this time. Is she on furlough? Did she get some sort of severance package?

“Getting all of that information, so you can use it in negotiations and present it to the court in your motion to modify.”

Modifying spousal support

The attorneys also noted that the process for modifying spousal support can sometimes be a little more difficult than child support.

“Your first step is going to be taking a look at the language in your marriage settlement agreement, in order to see if it’s modifiable or not modifiable,” Cordell & Cordell New Jersey Senior Litigation Attorney Michael Prasad said. “Even if the language in your agreement indicates that it is nonmodifiable, it’s still a good idea to consult with an attorney.

“Alimony obligations are modifiable based on the showing of a change in circumstance, and judges operate very differently from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and even from county to county. Some judges may look at that and say ‘Well, you have a contract you entered into,’ and some judges and courts may look at the circumstances and see that the change in circumstances was unforeseeable.”

More information

Cordell & Cordell is continuing to produce weekly Virtual Town Halls and daily podcasts to answer your questions about how the pandemic is impacting family law. You can find a full library of content on this topic on the Cordell & Cordell COVID-19 and Divorce Information Hub.

The post COVID-19 And Divorce: Effective Child and Spousal Support Strategies appeared first on Dads Divorce.

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cohabitation during covid-19 Shellshocked couple looking straight ahead

6 Strategies For Survival: Cohabitation In The Time Of COVID-19

cohabitation during covid-19 Shellshocked couple looking straight ahead

 

As a nation, America is facing one of its most uncertain times in recent decades. Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is sweeping across our nation at an alarming rate and shelter-in-place orders are bringing daily life as we know it to a halt. Americans are struggling with this uncertainty in many areas of their lives, including the potential impacts on their physical health, emotional health, mental health, and financial wellbeing. This level of uncertainty often breeds insecurity and vulnerability, which often leads to conflict.

Most Americans are now several weeks into social distancing and are staying at home full-time with their families. But, what happens to the couple who was on the brink of filing for a divorce and now are stuck living together? While ending the marriage, these couples are now in a tough predicament: they must cohabitate and possibly co-parent during a pandemic without harming each other or their children. The person they want to divorce, and all the marital baggage, now sit in the house like a familiar friend, and the home becomes a pressure cooker for conflict.

The mandate to stay at home due to COVID-19 is an impractical scenario for divorcing couples, who are now forced to shelter-in-place together, just as they were planning on separating permanently. While it is important to remember that this health crisis is not permanent, it is equally as important to learn how to effectively cope with this “new normal”.

Surviving Cohabitation During COVID-19

In collaboration with Dr. Marian Camden, an expert in the field of psychology and family therapy, we have developed a few strategies that you can implement to make cohabitation with a soon-to-be-ex-spouse more manageable:

Expect a Longer Divorce Process.

The backlog for the courts is still unknown and each county in Colorado is handling the timeline differently. Most counties are not setting evidentiary hearings unless they involve a threat to welfare and safety. This means that it will take longer to resolve temporary issues such as who will reside in the home, temporary maintenance, and temporary parenting time. However, the bright side is that many cases are settled in mediation without the need for a hearing. At this time, mediations are still moving forward by way of video conferences.

Please note: Courts are still holding emergency hearings for protection orders and parenting time restrictions. If you feel strongly that you or your children are not safe, then Court intervention is still possible and you should speak with an attorney.

Focus on Your Children.

If you have children with your spouse, make a decision that you are going to put your focus on your children first. Many children will not remember the details of this pandemic, but rather they will remember how their home felt during this time. They will remember if there were heated arguments, fighting, or physical confrontation between their parents. Children will remember more about how their parents reacted to the crisis and the atmosphere that their parents created than they will about the pandemic itself. Children are constantly observing and learning coping mechanisms from their parents, so focus on creating a positive impression, even during the darkest times.

Shift Your Mindset.

To survive in a crisis, you must shift your mindset. Living in the same home as someone you are either divorcing or planning to divorce is not an ideal situation for most.  To survive in this scenario, it may be helpful to shift your perspective of your relationship with your spouse from an “intimate relationship” to a “business relationship.” Often the first step is to remove your most impassioned emotions from the picture. Rather, behave toward your co-parenting partner in a detached, professional manner, in a manner in which you would not be embarrassed for your co-workers or friends to see. Basic manners go a long way toward making the cohabitation and co-parenting process tolerable. Try going back to the basics mantras we learned as children: (1) say please and thank you and (2) if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.

Implement Structure.

The more conflict that you have with your soon-to-be-ex, the more you need to create a routine that provides you the best chance at peaceful cohabitation. This routine should provide as much “separation” as possible, even when you are sheltering in place. Try to create a rotation of when each of you is primarily responsible for caring for the children. If needed, you can create a routine that allows for separate mealtimes and physical separation in different areas of the home. Creating some physical space from your spouse will allow for more emotional space in your home. If you can’t get your partner to co-structure with you, then structure your day so that you don’t overlap very much. This may require sacrifice, but it will create a more peaceful home for you and your children.

Plan for Behavior Spikes

In difficult times, spikes in irritation and anger are often unavoidable. Having awareness around this concept will help you to create a response strategy for potential fallout, rather than simply reacting. When you feel the anger (or years of pent up rage) rising, have a calm response, such as: “I need to take a break”; “I’m going to walk the dog”; or (my personal favorite) “I need to think this over and get back to you.”

Focus on Self-Awareness.

The more you can be self-aware and have that moment to catch yourself, the more freedom and choice you have with your situation. What does that mean? Basically, NOW is the time to incorporate a daily mindfulness practice into your life or recommit to the one you used previously. According to Dr. Camden, “anything you can do to raise your self-awareness will result in more self-control and greater freedom over your choices. Self-awareness allows you the ability to respond, rather than react. If you start by taking care of yourself in a kind, gentle, and reasonably self-disciplined manner, you will enhance your ability to cope, co-exist, and co-parent during these challenging times.”

  • Begin writing in a journal. This is an opportunity to channel your internal conflict over old grievances and the things you can’t stand about your partner. There is a vast amount of research that supports the benefits of journaling, such as reducing symptoms of depression, boosting mood, and enhancing your sense of well-being.
  • Learn how to meditate. Meditation is not just for the “enlightened.” The reason it is so mainstream and popular right now is that it actually works. Whatever your living situation may be, try sitting quietly for a few minutes at a time and reflecting on your thoughts. You do not need a “meditation space”, in fact, if you are in a pinch, this can be done from the privacy of your bathroom. There is significant research indicating that mediation can have a positive effect on depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, ulcerative colitis, and more.
  • Move your body and get outside every day for at least ten minutes. Try something you enjoy, such as going on a walk or run, doing yoga, riding a bike, or playing games with your children.
  • Reduce unhealthy vices. Remember to eat well and reduce the consumption of sugar, alcohol, and recreational drugs. These vices stand in the way of healthier coping strategies and will not provide you with adequate energy to cope in this crisis.
  • Create a consistent and healthy bedtime routine. A healthy bedtime routine, also known as “positive sleep hygiene” is a behavioral practice that includes establishing a regular sleep schedule and limiting exposure to stimulants (light, electronics, food, and alcohol) before bed.  Having positive sleep hygiene will help ensure you are providing your body and mind with restful sleep. Sleep provides the body and mind time to relax and reset, which is especially crucial in times of stress.

Dr. Camden’s #1 Strategy for Successful Cohabitation

If there is one basic skill that’s going to keep everybody safe in their homes, it’s remembering to take a time out when you need it and then actually taking the time out. There’s no shame in it, just say, ‘I need a break.’ If there is a question that needs answering, then do the classy thing and say, ‘I’ll get back to you’ and then actually get back to them once you’ve had time to respond, instead of just reacting. Often, there isn’t even a decision to be made. Couples tend to quickly fall back into hard-wired ways of thinking about each other, talking to one another, and fighting battles that no one will win. This is where increased mindfulness will be helpful.

Remember, this uncertain time is temporary and the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 will not last forever. For this reason, it is crucial that divorcing couples do not take destructive actions that WILL permanently impact their lives. Domestic violence charges can impact individuals for years to come, not to mention the lasting emotional impact it has on children in the home. In remembering to be kind to others in your home during this time, remember to also be kind and patient with yourself. These are trying times and everyone is working to survive peacefully as possible.

No one should feel unsafe in their own home.  Those suffering from domestic abuse are free to leave their homes and seek help if they feel unsafe. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7:  Call: 1-800-799-7233; Text: LOVEIS to 22522, or visit: thehotline.org.

 

Written in collaboration with:

Dr. Marian Camden is a licensed psychologist offering counseling, therapy, coaching, and consultation in Denver. For nearly two decades, Dr. Camden has helped adults, children, and teens work through difficult divorce situations, become better parents, heal from depression and anxiety, recover from trauma and emotional abuse, feel happier, more confident, and better about themselves: as parents, as partners, and as professionals.

Website: camdencounseling.com/

The post 6 Strategies For Survival: Cohabitation In The Time Of COVID-19 appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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FEMALE NARCISSIST

CO-PARENTING WITH A NARCISSIST – 13 STRATEGIES TO HELP YOU DEAL WITH A FEMALE NARCISSIST

Truth is that you can’t co-parent with a narcissist.  But that would be a ridiculously short post so instead we are going to look at some practical steps you can take to make the fact that you have a narcissistic ex a little bit easier for you and the children.

I have chosen to write this post about female narcissists.  Mainly because it is a hugely under talked about subject but one that is a very real problem.  Almost all my clients have identified that their mothers were narcissistic and that it has had huge implications for them growing up and into adulthood.  That means that there are a lot of fathers out there attempting to co-parent with a narcissist.  

Whilst I appreciate that there are plenty of narcissistic fathers out there as well, I feel that there is already a plethora of information out there for mums (Scary Mommy and The Good Men Project have great articles on this).

Female narcissists can cause just as much damage to their children but they have the added weight of societal views about mothers and domestic abuse on their side.  Although there has been a lot of work done in the past decade about father’s rights and equal parenting, the truth is that most people still assume that mothers are the primary caregivers.  Whilst I am not wishing to write off the important role of mothers or deny that many more women than men are primary caregivers, I do think that parenting roles have changed and we now have legislation which reflects that in some measure (parental leave for new fathers for example) so it’s important we also talk about the darker side of females as well.  

There is lots spoken about toxic masculinity but toxic femininity and toxic females exist too. I think it is very dangerous to label one sex all good and the other all bad.  In fact that kind of black and white thinking is a trait of narcissism. I prefer to believe that we are all capable of good and bad acts, just as we are all capable of being victim or abuser. Without going too much into a nature nurture debate, science has long since demonstrated that our behaviours are as much, if not more, the result of our experiences than our biology.  In other words, what we have between our legs does not dictate who we are and how we behave. This is where the importance of nurture, and in particular parenting, becomes even more obvious.

But firstly, let’s get to know what we are dealing with.

Female Narcissists

Thought Catalog have written a really great piece on female narcissists so I am going to borrow their five characteristics of a female narcissist:

  1. A sadistic sense of pleasure at someone else’s pain.

Perhaps one of the most understated qualities of the female malignant narcissist is the pleasure and joy she takes in bringing down others. She enjoys making covert jabs and watching gleefully as the formerly confident victim looks crestfallen, shocked and offended. She displays a lack of empathy when the conversation turns to more serious emotional matters, engaging in shallow responses or cruel reprimands that invalidate her victim’s reality.

She is ruthless in her ability to first idealise, then devalue and discard her victims without a second thought. She cannot engage in healthy, emotionally fulfilling relationships, so she enjoys sabotaging the relationships and friendships of others for her own personal entertainment.

  1. An insatiable sense of competitiveness, due to pathological envy and the need to be the centre of attention.

They have to win.  At all costs. They will either be overt and play the hero.  Or covert and present as a fragile victim, utilising all her womanly wiles to win over sympathy in order to achieve her goal.  Usually of putting someone else down or punishing them.

As psychotherapist Christine Louis de Canonville puts it, “When it comes to envy, there is no one more envious than the narcissistic woman.”

  1. She sabotages your friendships and relationships, stirring chaos within social groups.

The female narcissist may use her affiliation with her target to gain access to resources or status, but as soon as the idealisation phase is over, the devaluation and discard follows. She then engages in rumour-mongering, smear campaigns and creates ‘triangles’ where she feeds others false or humiliating information about the victim. She may pit her friends against each other by claiming that they are gossiping about one another, when in fact, it is her falsehoods that are actually manufacturing conflict within the group. By subjecting her victims to covert and overt put-downs, she is able to then confirm her own false sense of superiority.

You are probably dealing with a female narcissist or sociopath if:

  • You notice an uncomfortable silence, a covert exchange of looks or odd energy when you enter the room. 
  • You were initially idealised, sweet-talked, admired, praised and shown off at the beginning of the relationship. You might have found yourself sharing your most intimate secrets early on, due to her disarmingly sweet and trustworthy demeanour. Later, you find your deepest secrets being spoken about with derision amongst friends or family or rumours based on vulnerabilities and fears you confided in them about. You also notice a chilling smugness when they talk down to you or as she devalues your accomplishments.
  • You bear witness to the narcissist frequently speaking ill of others in an excessively contemptuous tone, while appearing friendly and engaging with them in public. This is evidence of her duplicity and ability to deceive. An authentic person might vent about others occasionally in the event of stress or conflict, but would not engage in excessive gossip or indiscriminate character assassination. He or she would be more likely to cut ties with those they thought were toxic or address it to them directly rather than bashing them unnecessarily. Make no mistake, the way they’re speaking about others is the way they’ll eventually speak about you.
  1. She has an obsession with her appearance as well as a high level of materialism and superficiality. 

FEMALE NARCISSIST

Female narcissists fit the ‘femme fatale’ stereotype quite well. Many of them are conventionally attractive and use their sexuality to their advantage. Since females in our society are also socialised to objectify themselves, the female narcissist follows this social norm to use whatever physical assets she has to assert her power.

Hammond (2015) also observes female narcissists tend to excessively spend money. This may result in a highly materialistic female narcissist who enjoys adorning herself with the best designer clothing, indulging in luxuries at the expense of her loved ones or allowing herself to be excessively catered to by a wealthy significant other. Female narcissists can also accumulate their own wealth and use it as an indication of her superiority as well.

  1. A blatant disregard for the boundaries of intimate relationships, including her own.

In keeping with typical narcissistic behavior regardless of gender, the female narcissist is likely to have a harem of admirers – consisting of exes that never seem to go away, admirers who always seem to lurk in the background and complete strangers she ensnares into her web to evoke jealousy in her romantic partner. She frequently creates love triangles with her significant other and other males (or females, depending on her sexual orientation). She rejoices in male attention and boasts about being the object of desire. She engages in emotional and/or physical infidelity, usually without remorse and with plenty of gaslighting and deception directed at her partner, who usually dotes on her and spoils her, unaware of the extent of her disloyalty.

Delightful folks aren’t they!

If you are having to co-parent with one though, you have experienced all of this.  You understand their manipulative ways and have seen first hand how they can cut people off in a truly heartless manner. You got out of that drama. But your kids can’t do that.  And so you have to find a way to deal with them.

13 Ways To Co-Parent With A Narcissist

  • Accept that you can’t co-parent with them
    Co-parenting implies co-operation, communication and collaboration.  Not going to happen. They have to be seen as superior so they will make all decisions, withhold information and keep you shut out.  Parents evenings will be separate, and no doubt she will have told the school that she doesn’t feel safe being around you. You won’t find out if they are ill unless of course it is as an excuse to stop contact. 

We were regularly told the children were ill so couldn’t come.  In fact it happened so often I questioned whether she was poisoning them!

It also requires both parties to see the other as valid and relevant.  The narcissist does not see you as valid or relevant. You are the proverbial shit on their shoe that they want to get rid of. Your opinion doesn’t count as you don’t count. 

The narcissist went out and pierced the baby’s (and I do mean baby, they were only about a year old) despite the dad voicing that he didn’t want them to have their ears pierced because it was cruel.  Didn’t matter. It was what she wanted.

  • Be realistic with your expectations
    Your ex is not going to change.  She has developed a very sophisticated system for how she deals with people and in particular people who she deems below her or of no use to her.  She simply cuts them off. This works for her so she has no motivation to change.

    The frustration at wanting her to be different lead to arguments between me and my partner and actually, in hindsight cost us our relationship because I was so fixated on her.

    However, this does not mean that your situation cannot change.  You have full control over yourself and how you respond to what is going on.  When she attempts to bait you into an argument in front of witnesses so she can “prove” what a monster you are, you can choose whether or not to bite.  Learning how to manage your own responses takes time and awareness of what your triggers are though so you must be prepared to do the work. Once you grasp it though, your ex has no power over you which right royally pisses them off.

    Whenever she would confront me to try to intimidate me, I would always be super kind and smile.  I wanted to growl really but being able to control my own response really irritated her.  And that, in all honesty, bought me some joy.
  • Understand that everything is about control and punishment
    You are child focused.  You always have been. You didn’t want to argue in front of the kids and so you let things slide.  You let her get her own way so as not to cause distress to the children. She on the other hand used that to control you and things are no different now.  She may act like she is mother of the year but the truth is everything is about her agenda.

    Again, you need to accept that this is who she is.  No amount of reason or logic or pulling at her heart strings is going to get her to put the children first. She knows full well that controlling your access and therefore your relationship with your children is the best way to punish you for whatever wrong she believes you have committed.  When you stop wasting your energy on trying to get her to understand, you can begin to make decisions and take action on getting what you want.
  • Go direct to the source
    The ex won’t share any information with you about your children and if you ask her, you may find yourself slapped with a non-molestation order.  Who knew that wanting to find out about your own children (which you have a legal right to) was a crime? Ironic right.  They are breaking the law in preventing you from having your parental rights but you get labelled the criminal for wanting to exercise them.

    I strongly suggest you speak direct to the source (GP, school, nursery etc) and ask them to copy you in on all correspondence.  Take a copy of the court order if you have one which will show there are no restrictions in you having access to this information.  I also recommend communicating by email in the first instance so that you have a paper trail and you can’t get accused of being a bully. Most of the people involved in your children’s lives have been fed the same lines about you being controlling, aggressive, abusive and unsafe.  I have seen it happen time and time again when father’s go into the school to ask for up to date records for their children, they are stonewalled by people who have believed the lies which is frustrating and so they exert their rights a bit more forcefully and before you know it, you have another person and a professional backing up mum’s side of the story.  Email or old fashioned snail mail is the best way to avoid this.
  • Everything you say, can and will be used as evidence against you
    This is one of the hardest truths to accept but nevertheless it is true.  You are not an equal parent. The ex has successfully managed to completely distort your relationship with your children. In two ways.  Firstly, she will rule by fear and so they know who to obey and who is in charge. Just as you did in the relationship. They have seen the consequences of disagreeing with her and so they go along with everything she says.  This means they have to treat you with the same disrespect and contempt as she does. They don’t believe it but when you practice something enough times it becomes a habit. This leads to the second way she distorts the relationship which is by taking away any parental power you have to discipline your child.  So when they are being disrespectful to you, you have every right to tell them they are not allowed to talk to you that way. You wouldn’t accept it from anyone else so why from your children. What your ex then does is illicit that criticism from the children and convince them that you are abusive because of how you spoke to them.  “He used to speak to me the same way, you poor thing. What a monster he is!” It makes it almost impossible for you to parent at all.  If you want to understand more about this dynamic I recommend grabbing a copy of our free ebook The Painful Truth About Narcissistic Families.

    However, the important thing to remember is that a parent is many things.  The most important being the one person who unconditionally loves their children, no matter what they do and so even if they do disrespect you and reject you, you will always love them.  And deep down they know that. It’s part of why they know they can do it. They feel secure in your love for them. So although it is painful, try to remember that your love for them and theirs for you is strong.  Hold onto that, despite all that might happen.
  • Develop some family rules
    Another way to deal with the disrespect is to share the responsibility for how you want your relationship to look like with the children.  Family meetings and rules decided by everyone in the family can be a really good way for you to manage behaviour. All children know right from wrong.  They feel guilty when they are naughty. And being unkind to you makes them feel very uncomfortable, even if it doesn’t seem like it.

    Create a vision together of family life and ask them how they can contribute to it looking like that.  Obviously they may exhibit some resistance to this and say things like “I wish I didn’t have to come here” or “I want to be with mum” but try to persevere. Ask them why they don’t want to come here, what could you do to help make it better. 
  • Lashings of praise
    Your ex will rule with extremes – severe punishment (rage or the silent treatment) or extravagant rewards (puppies or favourite toys) which can be really powerful in getting children to do exactly what they want.  I have heard a story where a mother, the day before a child was due to go to contact with their father, bought a brand new puppy. I mean who would want to leave a new puppy? Whilst this looks amazing to the child on the surface, what all children really want is love, affection and attention and narcissists simply aren’t capable of providing any of those things.  You know that. You have felt the coldness.

    Positive reinforcement (also known as positive stokes) in the form of praise, hugs and pride is however, much more powerful.  You know the look of joy on your child’s face when you tell them they have done really well and you are proud of them, and then you tell them to ring grandma and tell her.  They are beaming! And children want more of that so giving lots of praise for all the good stuff you see not only boosts their self esteem but it also helps nurture your bond with your child.

    I do recognise that narcissists will give praise when the children do what they want and they use that to encourage them to reject you.  However, narcissists are inconsistent and so children never really know where they stand with them. What pleased them one day isn’t good enough the next.  Being consistent with your praise provides the child with the security they need.
  • Teach rather than tell
    You are your children’s role model.  They learn from all that they see, hear and watch you do.  This is probably why you ended the relationship, because you didn’t want your children to grow up thinking it was normal.  You can use this to help them develop the characteristics and skills you want them to have growing up. It will also help them to manage their own relationship with the narcissist.

    Think about what you want for your child.  Most parents want their children to be kind, happy, loved and successful.  Are you all of those things? How are you able to model them? When they misbehave, show them the behaviour you want rather than point out what they have done wrong.

    I always remember the scene in Jaws when Brody’s son is mirroring all his actions back to him.  Think about what your child is mirroring to you and vice versa.
  • Accept them for all that they are
    The reality is that your child will mirror back to you parts of your ex and this can be really hard to witness.  You may find yourself retriggered and taken back to a situation with your ex. Having her there, in your house, but in a smaller version, can be very upsetting.  And can have an impact on not only how you respond to your child but also how you feel about them. I have heard many parents honestly admit that sometimes, when their child reminds them of their ex, in that moment, they don’t like them.  That might feel really uncomfortable but it’s quite normal and natural. Your child will take after your ex. They may even look like her. No-one expects you to just forget about all the shit they put you through.

    However, it is important that you learn to accept those parts of your child.  Being aware when they remind you of your ex can help you to manage your feelings.  And remember that your child is not your ex.

    My step-daughter reminded me so much of the narcissist.  She had the same look sometimes and I felt my stomach go but just that awareness of that feeling was enough to pull me back into the room and stay with this innocent little girl sat in front of me who was so much more than her DNA.
  • Get to grips with your ex
    Something else it is important for you to model to your children, is how to deal with the ex.  You no longer live with her so you have the space to recover but your children don’t have that opportunity except when they are with you.  They are immersed in her world. The time with you is your chance to teach them the skills which got you through it. You needed resilience, self love, self control, a strong self image, support, determination and courage.  When your ex tries to push your buttons, you have an opportunity to show your children how to use self control and be strong in knowing who you are and how you behave. They will learn so much from that. They are looking to you all the time for help with this. 

    If you don’t yet feel confident in managing your ex and yourself around them, I strongly recommend getting some support to bolster up those skills.
  • Remove the drama
    Your life with the narcissist was full of drama and chaos because that is the environment the narcissist loves to create.  They can control others when they are disorientated by the chaos. Now you are away from that, you can focus on creating a peaceful environment, not just for you but for the children as well.  Children get carried away and lost in drama, it impacts their development, self esteem and academic achievement. On the opposite side of that, they thrive in a loving, nurturing, safe and calm environment. 

    Take a good look at your life and your friends and family.  Are they always caught up in the next drama or do they live a quiet and happy life?  Remove as much of the drama as you can. It will help with your recovery and create a safe haven for your children.  Like a lighthouse in the storm.
  • If you have to go to court, be prepared
    The reality is, if you have children with a narcissist you WILL have to go to court.  They want to punish you and what better way that by using the children. They will start by gatekeeping the contact, dictating the rules as to when and where you can see them.  They will begin to cut you out of all areas of their lives: school, after school clubs, your family. Finally they will manipulate the children to reject you (check out our comprehensive guide to How Parental Alienation Is Hurting Your Children to find out more about how this happens).

    It means if you want a relationship with your child, you have to go through Family Court which can perpetuate the abuse.  Every man and his dog will be drawn into the drama, claiming they saw you do x, y and z. Lies will become facts and those trained to protect children, will assist your ex is abusing them.  Narcissists love court because they have developed a false self designed to dupe and manipulate others. They love the performance in the court arena. You on the other hand just want to get on with your life and have a loving relationship with your children.  Claims of domestic abuse will appear and they will be granted legal aid so that they can use as many delay tactics as they like to keep up this charade. All in the hope of wearing you down so you just disappear. The fact they get to slander your character and destroy you in the process is a bonus to them.

    Going to court against a narcissist isn’t about the law or the facts.  It is about who is best at telling the story and being believed. Now I am not for one second suggesting you become an Oscar winning actor.  But it is important you learn how to put in your best performance. Which is why we developed our Get Court Ready course, designed to give you all the skills, tools and mindset to win this battle.
  • Recognise you may have PTSD
    A relationship with a narcissist is traumatic and stressful and when you have been exposed to it for a lengthy period of time, you can develop PTSD (and complex PTSD).  Symptoms of PTSD are:
    • regularly reliving painful memories, to the extent that you feel as if you are going through it again
    • losing all confidence in yourself and are finding it difficult to adapt to different and new situations
    • developing a chronic illness, anxiety or depression following your relationship with a narcissist
    • feeling numb and unsure of who you really are avoiding people and situations


PTSD can impact your relationship with those you love, including your children and leave you vulnerable to being retriggered by your ex.  Check out our guide to All You Need To Know About PTSD After Narcissistic Abuse.

Female narcissists are dangerous and highly abusive.  Like their male counterparts, they take no prisoners and are hell bent on destroying you.  If they have to take down others, including their own children, so be it.  As far as they are concerned the end justifies the means.  Everyone is collateral damage for them retaining their public persona.  

It’s important we speak out about this.  Men can be victims and women can be abusers.  Awareness is paramount is helping our children to recover and not repeat these cycles.

If you have experienced abuse at the hands of a narcissist and feel comfortable, please do share your thoughts. Or maybe you know someone who is a female narcissist.  Is what I have said accurate in your opinion?  Get involved.

The post CO-PARENTING WITH A NARCISSIST – 13 STRATEGIES TO HELP YOU DEAL WITH A FEMALE NARCISSIST appeared first on The Nurturing Coach.

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6 Strategies to Make Your Solo Holidays the Best Ever!

6 Strategies to Make Your Solo Holidays the Best Ever!

The prospects of spending the holidays as a single woman may feel daunting and you’re dreading the whole season altogether. You may be experiencing feelings of depression, sadness, and fear. How will you get through it all?

The post 6 Strategies to Make Your Solo Holidays the Best Ever! appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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divorcing a control freak

6 Strategies To Use When Divorcing A Control Freak

divorcing a control freak

 

I had never considered my husband a control freak. But as we were ending our marriage, I saw his need to control blossom into something ugly.

At that point, I reflected back over our marriage (for the millionth time?) and realized it had been there all along. I think I had largely overlooked it because I just wanted to get along.

Plus there were other hurtful behaviors that actually trumped this one.

Our divorce kicked off with some controlling behavior. What I had hoped would be a dissolution upgraded to a divorce when my husband sent the Sheriff to our home to serve me with divorce papers.

In those papers were restraining orders. He was trying to prevent me from accepting a job in my hometown. It was the best job opportunity that I could’ve received at that time. Many years ago, we had jointly decided that he would financially support our family while I basically stayed home with our four children.

But when the divorce started, he shut down all of my access to our finances. Then he tried to block my ability to provide for myself and the children. I was in an impossible spot, and needed solutions. Eventually, I came up with six strategies to handle divorcing a control freak.

6 Strategies To Use When Divorcing A Control Freak

1. Limit his opportunities to control. I created an email account just for him and refused to communicate with him in any other way. I informed him that I would no longer speak with him in person, nor would I answer his texts. If he needed to give me information quickly (maybe running late to pick up the kids), he could text someone in my support system and they would immediately let me know. The email account was actually my attorney’s idea. It limited my ex’s ability to control me and made a permanent record out of everything he said.

Along that same vein…

2. Create witnesses. After I made an email account just for him, I realized I could improve upon the idea even further. I made sure he knew that I would not be reading his emails. The people who supported me took turns reading emails from my ex. They only passed along the information that I actually needed to know, usually details about the kids.

I was never made aware of the drama, threats or speeches. My ex was intensely upset about this, but I stuck with it. I cannot even express how much stress this lifted from me. And yes, I realize how incredibly lucky I am to have such a wonderful support system!

3. Move, if you can. This was a tricky situation because my attorney and I decided that I would drop all of the kids off at their father’s new place, and then I’d move to my hometown. Their father had never wanted to be involved in parenting, and I knew that among other issues, the children would get really upset by his parenting and personality.

Within two weeks, all four of the children had found a way to move out of their dad’s home. Thankfully, the courts later interviewed all of them and allowed the children to move so they could live with me. The kids had been so understanding, but this calculated risk frightened me and filled me with guilt. The move was for a job opportunity and creating a better life for the kids and me. But it also ended up playing a significant role in my healing and creating boundaries. I believe it saved me.

4. Document. It felt like I would be stooping so low to record or videotape my ex, even though he was consistently doing that to me. But one day he called the police on me because our son rode the school bus to where his Pappaw was instead of where his father lived.

Once the officer understood how upset the children were, he explained that it could really help the kids and me if I were to record them being forced to visit their dad. Once my ex understood that I would be openly recording, he backed off on forcing visits. (Disclaimer: If children can be/feel healthy in their relationships with BOTH parents, I believe this is best. I don’t want to sound anti-dad. I’ve met some men that are amazing dads!)

5. Neutral territory. Two of our children visit with their father, and whenever we exchanged the children I insisted that we do so in a very public location. I had noticed that my ex’s controlling behavior was always bolder when we were at our homes or another private place. I’m very lucky because my father usually offers to do pick-ups/drop-offs. Pappaw has clocked in some major hours driving the 90-minute trek to my ex’s house with some very precious cargo.

6. My life is no longer his business. I stopped posting on social media for a few years. When I returned, I thinned down my friend count to remove anyone who was also a friend of my ex’s. As far as I know, the children feel pretty protective of me and never mention me or details of my life to their dad. He has tried to come into my home to use the bathroom, but I’m not comfortable with this (there is a nice Subway and gas station just two blocks away). In the past, he has gone through my belongings, and he’s been known to take pictures. I believe the less he knows about me, the less opportunity he has to control me.

There are almost always better ways to handle relationship issues than with control and force. Where’s the finesse, patience, compromise, and understanding? We have the right to be treated with respect. Plus, when we do stand up for ourselves, the other person has an opportunity to self-correct – if they are able. If they are allowed to treat us unfairly, they aren’t going to have an impetus to change. But if this best-case scenario doesn’t work out, and they still remain control-freaks, at least you’ve established some healthy boundaries for yourself.

The post 6 Strategies To Use When Divorcing A Control Freak appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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8 Strategies: How to Keep Yourself Together When Your World Falls Apart

8 Strategies: How to Keep Yourself Together When Your World Falls Apart

It can take great courage to let in the possibility that we’re not doing okay in something fundamental—whether it’s marriage, parenting, a relationship, or a job.

The post 8 Strategies: How to Keep Yourself Together When Your World Falls Apart appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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Strategies to Keep Yourself Together After Divorce

Strategies to Keep Yourself Together After Divorce

Personal catastrophe can teach us, or damage us. Here’s how to come through it.

The post Strategies to Keep Yourself Together After Divorce appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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