Any ordinary divorce can be difficult enough, but if your spouse is a sociopath, the divorce can turn into a nightmare.
In popular culture, a sociopath is often easily spotted — in real life, however, they often can seem charming to those not in their immediate circle. That can make dealing with their manipulations very frustrating — because most sociopaths are smart enough not to let other people catch them being as conniving and controlling as they really are.
How do you survive? Experts suggest that you do the following:
1. Remember that sociopaths are not really treatable. You cannot convince them they have a problem, and they won’t ever care enough to change their behavior.
2. Recognize that they are not motivated by normal human decency or kindness. You will be able to negotiate best if you learn what their real “currency” is. It may be money, attention, the status of “victim” in your relationship or something equally twisted. However, once you understand what they really want, you can use that to your advantage to get what you really want.
3. Expect the sociopath to play the victim and try to manipulate the court into seeing you as a liar, an abuser or even crazy. Don’t play into his or her hands. Smile and speak kindly about your spouse and never make any accusations until your attorney is ready to take them into court with evidence.
4. Keep a record of every exchange you have. Keep a log of all verbal conversations and have a witness listening in if you can. Keep all electronic communication and voice mails. Do not respond to threats, insults or any demands. Refer your spouse to your lawyer if any disagreements come up and make no promises.
5. Above all be patient. A sociopath tends to overplay his or her hand when the target (you) refuses to react. Find a therapist to vent your frustrations, but play it cool and calm both in private and in court with your spouse. Eventually the facade of geniality will crack and the court will see what’s going on.
It’s important that you don’t try to handle a sociopathic spouse on your own — talk to your attorney for more advice. For more information on how our firm can help you and the way that we approach divorce cases, please visit our webpages on the subject.