Divorcing a Narcissist: The Principle of the Matter

I received a text message from the X this morning that said, “If you want money today- check your email“.

Here is the email that was awaiting me:

Tina-  I am willing to pay you $3000  to dismiss the Contempt Hearing with prejudice.

I can pay $1000 on 8/21/2011 if you take this off calendar today
$1000 on 9/1/2012
$1000 on 9/16/2012.

I have notified the company I work for now of the child support for direct payments to State Disbursement office so those payments will also be coming to you.  Collectively, this means (X Amount) would be in your hands by the end of September.  I would rather pay past due support than pay an attorney these monies.  

The Contempt Hearing claiming I made commission but didn’t pay you will not be proven.  Since I lost my job on June 3rd, 2011, I was unemployed over 6 months in two intervals of time. On November 17, 2011, (X Company) laid off their entire staff.  I earned $0 in commission.  Thus I had only unemployment until Spring 2012.  I made no commission and barely got by for the past 14 months.  When employment was gained again by me, you were paid in March, as well as in April and May garnishment.  No commission was earned by (X Company) as they two are a start-up company with instrumentation that has a very long sales cycle.  

The last 2 weeks I was in training with my new job and I cannot afford to lose this job by being brought to court mid-week over and over.  If you are unable to accept, I will have no choice but to use these payroll funds to retain an attorney to defend my rights today 8/21/12.  I will not have a choice but to spend money on an attorney in such a hearing.  Best regards, The X

Let’s place this one into the Narc De-Coder:

Dear Tina- I am going to attempt to bribe you with money so please don’t focus on the fact that I’ve never once kept a promise involving paying child support.  You can trust me this time.  I promise.

Once I heard about the contempt hearing, I promptly called Child Support Services and gave them the information about my job in an effort to stop the court process.  I figured that I should probably notify them that I am working before I have to stand in front of the Commissioner and try to explain why I continue to live a luxury lifestyle and fail to pay support.

Bear with me while I lie about my jobs and the reasons that I am fired every three months.  Basically, it’s always someone’s fault.  I’ve never once lost a job by my own doing.     

Lastly, I am freaking out about being held in Contempt of Court and am pleading with you in my own twisted and warped way.  Best regards, The X

My Response- short and sweet:

Dear X- I plan to go forward with the the Contempt hearing.  You will be receiving additional paperwork pertaining to the Contempt hearing in the coming week.

If you have an extra $3,000 (as mentioned in this email) than the courts would probably look more favorably towards you paying down the arrears balance rather than putting the money towards yet another attorney.  Obviously, that is your choice to make.  Any future communication about the topic shall be handled in the courtroom.  Thank you, Tina


My daughters have had to sacrifice a considerable about in the past few years while the X has hid money, frequented bars, lived in luxury accommodations, traveled and bought a brand new car.  It’s the principle of the matter.  The one thing that I took away from his email is that he realizes the severity of the situation that he’s in.

To prove Contempt of Court, I must show the following:

  • Existence of a lawful order (check)
  • The potential contemnor’s knowledge of the order (check)
  • The potential contemnor’s ability to comply (check)
  • The potential contemnor’s failure to comply (check)


One Mom’s Battle: Our mission at One Mom’s Battle is to increase awareness of Cluster B personality disorders (Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder) and their impact upon shared parenting and the Family Court System which includes Judges, CPS workers, Guardian ad Litems (GAL), Parenting Coordinators (PC), Custody Evaluators, therapists and attorneys. Education on Cluster B disorders will allow these professionals to truly act in the best interest of the children.

History of One Mom’s Battle: In 2009, One Mom’s Battle began with one mother, (Tina Swithin), navigating the choppy waters of a high-conflict divorce in the Family Court System. Since then, it has turned into a grassroots movement reaching the far corners of the Earth. Tina’s battle spanned from 2009 – 2014 during which time she acted as her own attorney. Ultimately, Tina was successful in protecting her daughters and her family has enjoyed complete peace since October 2014 when a Family Court commissioner called her ex-husband a “sociopath” and revoked his parenting time in a final custody order.

Tina Swithin: Divorcing a narcissist? Tina Swithin’s books are available online at Amazon (print, Kindle or audio format). Each year, Tina offers life-changing weekends of camaraderie and healing at the Lemonade Power Retreat.  Tina also offers one-on-one coaching services and a private, secure forum called, The Lemonade Club, for those enduring high-conflict custody battles.




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  1. Katie

    I love your narc decoders! He is so much like every single other narcissist alive, and this decoder process works with any of them. He is not original, and his N flag flies mighty high making every narc victim’s radar “beep” right off of the page when they read these! Every single time I read his emails that you post I think, he has no idea how dumb he is to think that manipulation works with you anymore. It’s a shame he can’t send his emails through this decoder before he hits send 😉

  2. JenelleMarie

    It’s amazing how they try to manipulate and control even more, almost in a frenzy when they are faced with a situation they haven’t yet figured out how to get out of. Your response is perfect and a great example!!

  3. Tina,

    If what you and your children are going through weren’t so awful, it could be a Nora Ephron book and movie with her cutting wit and humor.

    I love your de-coder and want to send over emails from my X to see if you can decode as well.

    In this last hearing, where the X asked for a reduction or termination of support, and in which he did get a reduction based on his income, he is still not happy. Why? Not sure if it is the language in the opinion about how he is not credible. The judge said that he is entitled to his “luxuries” which evidently include a $70k new car and an outdoor pizza oven in his weekend home built by a famous Chicago based kitchen designer. Most folks don’t have such an expensive kitchen in their first/only homes, let alone a home he uses on some weekends.

    I could live with the reduction, provided he pay the legal fees that he was ordered to pay, but no…..since January, the X has spent more than the legal fees he was ordered to pay because he does not want to pay my legal fees. He has filed about 200 pages of briefs trying to re-litigate the hearing again through various motions to re-consider.

    Then he has the nerve to ask if whether I will agree to “arbitrate” the whole thing again so that the decision could be withdrawn or sealed. Why would I do that?

    Although my kids are pretty much grown, he has tried to get them to convince me to settle. Sure, I say, but his offers to settle seem to forget that we already litigated this and he wants to give me nothing in a settlement vs my enforcing the decision that he brought in the first place.

    It breaks my heart and makes me sick to my stomach how much money has been spent in legal fees. And he just does not get it.

    I often wonder why there is so much similarity between the narcissistic men. It can’t just be nurturing. And I wish that courts would see the traits so that litigation can’t be used as a tool to financially ruin women.


  4. Tigress

    omgsh..every email I have from my narc sounds like this…”I’m the victim and you better wise up or lose out.” I am filing for divorce now, after waiting half a year for him to go to trial for assault (he’s been abusive almost 20 years of marriage, and yes, I’m doing this for my kids!!) Thanks, Tina <3 I don't know how you manage to take the time to do this for all of us, but you are a huge help and I love you, girl! Hang in there!!

  5. Kerri

    My question is, what is the narc decoder when you’ve filed contempt over communication and they get quiet? Even hang up after 5 words one of them being Ma’am, on you when you ask a question about the medication?

    Then not another peep……..but I know he’s opening emails now thanks to them being certified lol!

  6. chris

    Thank you your blog gives me strength.good luck to you.

  7. eva

    I am reading this post, shaking my head, but with a huge smile on my face. Proof positive that they (Narcs) can only run and hide and lie but for so long! Good work Tina!!!

  8. M.

    After reading this I got this image of a fish wiggling out of water on a hook (gasping gills and all) and a heavy duty cast iron skillet held by strong, yet graceful hands:)! I just hope the Judge will finally chew him up and spit him out this time! One would think that the threat of some time behind bars(can happen if decision is for criminal contempt) to have some inmate do to him what he’s been doing to you and the girls would sober someone up rather quickly, or at least long enough to knock some sense into him. How deceived is your X that he thinks he actually has the upper hand? If he can’t figure this one out, he deserves the luxury accommodations of his local county or state prison. Unreal.

  9. I’m slightly nervous about commenting considering the recent blasts that I have been getting on my blog, BUT I can’t help it because I feel like we were married to the same guy. I recently received a similar request. Hold off on filing the arrears for medical and he will pay me this and that by whatever unrealistic deadline that he can provide. Does he not remember all of the other broken promises? Well, sure, but those don’t count. He really means it NOW. And I hear the same thing about the job.
    My ex often shows back up and asks for money.
    (I haven’t set very good boundaries.) When I say no, he tries from every angle. It doesn’t matter how much I list of the expenses that I have for the kids and the fact that he doesn’t pay CS. He doesn’t care if it will burden me or affect the kids. It only matters how it affects him.

  10. It’s just amazing to me…. I mean, living with the straight up psychosis every day!!!
    My last email I received from him included

    “I think we should make sure the girls are careful around men, because child molesters hide in churches all the time”
    (TRANSLATION: I know you’re in church all the time, and I’m accusing you of allowing your Christian friends to molest my daughters.)

    “You need to make sure that the girls are dressed when you bring them to me, since you brought them to me without shoes.”
    (TRANSLATION: Even though I gave them to you without shoes, and you brought them back to me the same way, because I didn’t give you shoes to give them back to me in, and I keep everything of yours that they wear to my house, I’m going to turn it around and blame you.)

    “Our girls will grow up great, because they’ll have two opposing viewpoints to see every situation through.”
    (TRANSLATION: I’m going to purposefully try to go against everything you teach the girls, just to be difficult.)

    CRAZY MAN!!!

  11. Tina

    Can you cut/paste them and email them to me? Does it show the IP address? I could really use that information. In addition, I want to see his writing style and verify that it’s him. I have another “wack” out there commenting and pretending to be different people (Susan P, etc). I want to stop both “wacks” before it continues.

  12. Tina

    That sounds exactly like something mine would say!

  13. MJ

    For someone so educated (in *microbiology* or whatever) he really is a poor, careless writer. The “I was unemployed” excuse really bothers me as a whole. Men should be requird to pay it REGARDLESS Of their employment status, unless there is a legitimate reason for being unemployed (i.e. disability, terminal illness) then they should be responsibel every month regardless of employment status. That would eliminate their ability to skirt obligation by just not working. My ex told me when I left him that he would quit his job before paying me a dime. Thankfully I knew better and of course he didn’t. But they should owe the money regardless of whether they are employed. Its not even just the principal — its the fact that children REQUIRE things

  14. I didn’t even reply to that email, because I know he was just trying to pick a fight and get attention. But, good Lord, does it make me crazy!!!

  15. Tina

    So true. It’s interesting that I never realized how poor his writing skills were when I was “drinking the kool-aid” and believed that he was brilliant. He would constantly correct my writing flaws and grammar. Someone pointed out recently that he is obviously so scattered from keeping up with his lies, money issues, bounced checks, etc that he comes across as extremely unintelligent.

  16. Z

    Tina, I love your response! I think it may help to have copies of his text and email when you’re court. The text sounds condescending and the email comes across as highly manipulative. Good luck on the 19th!

    His inability to hold on to a job is his issue. I don’t know about CA but in MA courts will attribute income based on the person’s past earning capacity and calculate child support based on this attributed income figure. Also, it’s typical in MA, from what I’ve seen, to have the non-custodial parent share in the non-insured medical expenses (co-pays, braces, etc.) and carry a life insurance with the child/children as the beneficiaries. You may have this info already but I thought I’d mention it just in case it’s relevant or useful.

    My ex keeps complaining about losing clients and income then turns around and buys a house that costs $600K. They do expect to fool everyone around them, don’t they?

  17. Jennifer

    Lucky you and me! We both have court on the 18th, I also have another hearing on the 19th as well. 18th is for him to completely suspend cs because he is such a narcissistice martyr and the 19th is because he is such a great liar and the system will never hold him accountable for his lies. Newest lie? I witheld visits from him over the summer. Summer was 72 days he gets one half. He had our child from June 8 to June 30 and then July 6 to July 29. Sends child home with lice kept child for 45 days. Hmmmm seems like much more than half. And he is saying that child went to him on 7/7 not 7/6. Kind of hard to do that when I worked 7/7 past the dropoff time and even if child was with me at work, we would have been almost an hour late. So i totally get this. Mine won’t even accept any responsibility, even if he backs out. He just tells me to get a third job to take up his slack, and I better not ever forget that he supplied one cell for this child so he has RIGHTS. What about the other ‘r’ word, responsibility?

  18. Jennifer

    The disabled thing should not fly unless there is a plan in place. My ex has a disability and he can work well enough to get money for alcohol and cigarettes and fun stuff for himself. I have proof of him working under the table after he was supposedly found to be diabled. He is also abusive and was abusive while we were married and use several ways to abuse me (financial, mental, physical, medical). So because he is simply using another manner to abuse our child and I, he should not be forced to pay support? It has already been reduced once. He is only ordered to pay 200 a month. That does not even cover daycare. I make less than 10 an hour. Our last tax return when married he claimed over 100,000 income.

  19. TA

    You all should check this out – my x’s new victim “liked” this page and all of the insanity it supports.


    My toddler is getting collection calls because the donor refuses to pay insurance co-pays that he has been court ordered to do so for two years. And the girlfriend, who isn’t even married to him yet is supporting his poison? Yikes!!!

  20. S

    I just said that to my sister: the courts should have a test or recognize these types, and cut off the wait for single mothers stuck by themselves. My ex justified spending over $10k to a forensics specialist to prove how “poor” his business is doing, and he stopped paying me even more than that. When the judge asked him why he would pay for something unnecessary instead of support his kids, his response was, “I HAD to!” (with fake tears, to boot). Sick!

  21. Grace

    Narc Decoder! YES!

    Here’s an email I forwarded to my husband (from my ex) along with my decoded version:

    (background-at the closing of the sale of our marital home it was discovered that he had (once again) defaulted on the mortgage by several months. Had the payments been current, we would have split the equity by a division agreed upon and in our decree. Because it wasn’t, he had to PAY to close on the house. I refused to sign until he agreed that he defaulted on his decreed obligations, and that he would still owe me what I would have gotten. thankfully, I had it in writing…but in the 9 months since that occurred he’s stated numerous times he’s not going to pay. In fact, he believes I owe HIM money for the years he payed our mortgage and I stayed home to raise our three children. He considers that to be ‘back mortgage’, and has threatened numerous times to sue me for this amount. SNORT.)

    I want you to know that I’ve spoken to attorneys on this issue as well as the possibility of filling a civil suit against you on the back mortgage you never paid the house hold while we were married. It’s quite clear that you really don’t care about what is ‘right’ or justice. You just want my money. Most attys felt you should be culpable for part of the loss on the house sale. The fact of the matter is regardless of what you might say regarding having to spend some of you personal monies on assorted things when married – you did make a verbal commitment. Your agreement doesn’t hold salt. I spent plenty of my own money on things and still had to make up for what you clearly didn’t do. This amount is in excess of close to $65,000.
    Be that as it may – suing you would only cause more rancor as well as money. My intention is to pay this debt to you. I’ll do the best I can to manage this sooner then later. Please don’t bug me about this – you will get the money you so clearly earned.

    That is all.”

    My version: “My attorney says I have to pay, so I will. But I don’t want to, and it won’t be a priority. And I’m a total douche.”

    My husband’s response: “You have learned the language of the douchebag well, grasshopper.”

  22. MWP

    I love it when they end a message with “That is all.”
    My other favorite after I ignore another one of his nut-job tyrades is “Truth hurts, huh?” Like he’s declaring my silence as surrender. Whatever.

  23. Grace

    I personally get a kick out of his REPEATED use of “Period. End of story.”, because it’s usually used THROUGHOUT his rant, and the story definitely did not end at that point 😉

    I have learned to realize that his emails that tell me “do us both a favor and don’t reply” are really just his way of grasping at whatever control he thinks he still has.

  24. MWP

    I know, lol, I can always tell when he’s seeking attention, because a one-sentence answer on my part will get a fifteen text tyrade from him. Or when I get a random e-mail like “I just wanted to let you know that I’m planning to take the kids to Texas to visit my family in about four months.” Seriously?? Could you please be more obvious that you’re bored and trying to pick a fight with me?? I just ignore as much as I can, because I know he’ll have to go get his supply from someone else. Let it be the girl he left me for. The two of them posted all over facebook how I’m just jealous of how much he loves her and how she’s such an amazing woman and blah blah blah… Go ahead, honey. You’ll find out soon enough. I’m not saying you’re not special in your own right. I’m just saying as much as he’d like to make you believe it, you’re not “more woman” than me, and you’re not so much better than me that he won’t treat you like he did me. You’re just me ten years ago. Go for it, and good luck!

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