In my understanding, there are several types and variations of narcissists, as well as a plethoria of comorbidity within personality disorders. In other words – most people with strong narcissistic traits also have traits from other personality disorders. This is why they are reconsidering whether NPD should be within the new DSM-V as it’s own stand alone disorder. If the professionals can’t decide… I can safely say that there are reasons why I can’t grasp exactly which type of narcissist seeks revenge, or if it is in fact coupled with another trait from another disorder. Nonetheless, narcissists want revenge in the divorce process. From my gut, it feels as though it is a form of retribution for having dismantled what they thought their life should appear to be to others. Even if their marriage wasn’t perfect, it was still the facade that they wanted to project to the world, and therefore, when it is split apart – there’s revenge to be paid.
I find it interesting that I know several friends who have dealt with narcissists who are both disinterested in the children and who fight for them at the same time. I believe this to be a more common trait from what I’ve consumed on the topic.
What I also think happens, and I know I witnessed this in my own life, is that they also go after other stuff that they think will hurt you. Slowly, one by one, as you learn to not care about what they want to rip away from you – they have to up the ante and find other things that can hurt you.
One friend’s ex said at the beginning of their divorce that he would ‘take the house’ and she should ‘take their daughter’. Children are property too, in their eyes. It’s sad, but true – while they CAN seem to have a ‘connection’ with them – the children are really just treated as property (and unfortunately, the family courts often view them that way as well). They even use phrases which reflect ownership, such as ” the children are in my custody“.
I have read in some forums that there’s a ton of power in acting out how you want them to take the kids for you- ‘be the babysitter, you need to step up to the plate’, ‘I have other things I need to do and you need to care for the kids’, etc. The commonly seen reaction is that they completely back away from the kids – because taking them from you is no longer ‘fun’. It doesn’t cause you pain. It even so much as triggers their oppositional tendency to do exactly the opposite of what it is that you want them to do. You want them to take the kids…and the narcissist feels ‘well, to heck with that – I’m not going to do that because it will hurt more if I don’t‘. Note that I used the word “feels” because I believe that the narcissist is really unaware consciously why they behave as they do. If they thought that statement – then it would imply that they are consciously aware of their own reaction to your request. Frankly, I think that their level of emotional awareness is pretty low.
For me, I would love to be strong enough to play that card and tell the ex to take the kids. One day when the kids were young and our daughter was sick, my ex came by for early morning visitation time that was scheduled. Having been out of work already for the day prior, I told him that he should be home with her that day. His response? “I’m going to need more notice than that.” Parents: do children schedule being sick with us?? Really? Whatever.
So think about your own journey… what did they go after for retribution first? What places are you still connected to them? As you untangle a marriage – each piece will fade away anyway and they will have less and less ‘points of connection’ with you … bank accounts are separated, the house is sold, debts are divided, etc. The only connecting factor down the road IS the children. That is the ONLY way left to get even with you for having destroyed their lives (you do realize that you destroyed their life, right?)
Of course they are going to use the children.