Is retirement possible, post-divorce?

NPD and Stockholm Syndrome

Okay, what’s all this jargon? “NPD”? “Stockholm Syndrome”?

What do these mean? And what on earth do they have to do with your divorce, and your finances?

Quite possibly, plenty.

“NPD” stands for “narcissistic personality disorder.” It’s an incurable mental condition in which someone—in this case, a man—has an inflated opinion of his own importance, an intense need to groom his image, and an inability to see the world through anyone’s eyes but his own.

Aha. Now you can see why I’m writing about this.

Thing is, NPD is rare. But that’s among the general population. Among the very specific population of divorcing women that I serve, well, let’s say I’ve seen enough of it.

And all of this affects the wife’s finances in divorce.

Beneath the surface

Men with NPD can be quite successful, financially. We’re talking surgeons, executives, pilots, business owners. They often marry women who are by nature agreeable, and thus the marriage—often a long one—“plays by certain rules” in which the husband leads, and the woman follows.

But that NPD is like blinders. The man is all about maintaining his image and having things his way, even if that includes things like infidelity. And so it’s typically the wife who files for divorce, which—shock alert—blindsides the husband. And puts him on the defensive, or rather offensive, in ways that other men don’t do:

“You can’t come after my money!”

But guess what? Arizona is a community-property state. You, as the lesser-earning spouse, have helped to raise the kids, support the household, and contribute to the marriage, so half of that property is yours. It’s not “his.”

Unfortunately, too many women stuck in this situation, after all these years, speak the exact same language. “I can’t take his money,” or “He won’t give me anything.”

To me, as an outsider, this smacks of Stockholm Syndrome: giving far too much credit to someone who’s trying to control you.

This is why, if you’re in a situation like this, you need a really good team on your side. Such as a financial person like me. And also, frankly, a good therapist—someone to help you understand what you’re up against, and regain your self confidence.

You’ll need it: That NPD man “looks” great to the world, so family and friends often wonder, “What did you do wrong? He’s so charming, and fun, and successful!”

Ugh.

There are ways, I have learned, to deal with an NPD in divorce. While he’ll use emotions against you, they don’t work against him. Know what does?

Math.

I’m a CPA. (And also a Certified Financial Planner™ professional and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® professional.

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