Let me share a story with you about a recent client's not-so-unusual case. I think that you may see some similarities to what you are going through...
"My wife is a narcissist and I just found out that she is sleeping with my best friend. I want a divorce!"
That's what "Robert" told me about his wife, "Nicole," when he first came in. (note: real names and details modified to protect confidentiality.)
Robert's a good guy who has gone through hell, but he's turned it all around and made a great life for himself and his kids.
Here's what happened...
On May 14, 2019, like every other weekday morning for the past 19 years, Robert left his house in Holmdel at 5:15 AM for the long commute to his office in New York City.
The financial services firm that he works for has an office nearby in Red Bank that he could work at, but he makes far more money in the city, and living in Monmouth County is expensive.
It's a very long day, but he is proud that it allows him to provide his family with a solid 6-figure income.
Robert and his wife, Nicole, live in Holmdel with their three kids.
Nicole stopped working when they had their first child 15 years ago, and has been a homemaker ever since.
Married life was not perfect, he confided in me. His wife overspends. She's often self-absorbed. She kind of takes care of her needs and doesn't really seem to consider his that much.
Nonetheless, Robert said that he was happy enough.
But he was not particularly happy about the fact that over the previous year, his wife had lost her desire to have relations with him.
“Hormones”, she told him. "And you get home from work so late. I'm lonely."
He trusts Nicole. They love each other dearly, Robert tells himself.
Yet something doesn't feel right.
“She must be a narcissist, like her self-absorbed mother," he started thinking to himself recently.
A week before he first came to see me he became suspicious enough to put an illegal tracking device on his wife's car "....just to make sure that she wasn't cheating on me."
Nothing unusual showed up for the first 7 days, which made Robert feel guilty for questioning Nicole's faithfulness.
Then at 12:42 PM on May 14, 2019, Robert's life changed forever. The tracking device notified his iPhone that Nicole's car was in his best friend's garage.
What the hell is she doing there?
"Hi Honey!" he said into his phone, his heart pounding out of his chest, feeling the drenching sweat rolling down his hand. "What are you doing?"
"Oh, you know, just the same old thing. Got the kids off to school, and now I'm cleaning the house. I can't wait to get out of here, but I've just been too busy today.”
Then a long, uncomfortable silence. They both knew.
He called his best friend, Alan. The phone rang 8 times. Then voicemail."What ‘cha doin’, buddy? Give me a call back ASAP."
The call was not returned.
ROBERT IS FURIOUS
He stormed into the house two hours early.
"I'm outta here!" he blurted out as he moved past Nicole to the master bedroom to grab some personal things.
"If you weren't working all the time, you would have noticed how unhappy I've been!" she screamed at him.
"I want a divorce, you devious, cheating narcissist!" he yelled back at her.
"YOU want a divorce? I'll give you a divorce that you'll never forget, you obsessive-compulsive workaholic!
"Workaholic? I bust my ass to give you everything you've ever asked for, and you do this, with THAT sleazy bum Alan? You won't get a damn nickel from me, and I'll take custody of the kids from you. You are an unfit parent!" Robert laughed nervously at her.
"YOU caused this. It's not my fault. I'm gonna go for the jugular and take you for everything that you've got!" Nicole blurted out.
"SHE cheats on ME with MY best friend, and now SHE says that she is going to go for the jugular" Robert thought to himself? "What a narcissistic nut job. How the hell did I ever marry that wacko?"
It's over. He has integrity. He can accept many things, but betrayal is not one of them.
"That narcissistic bitch isn't getting any of my 401(k), my IRA, my pension, or any of my stocks. She deserves nothing from me. Let that jackass ex-best friend of mine support her."
In addition, Robert has decided that he is going to apply to the Court for custody. He feels that Nicole is unfit, and the kids would rather live with him anyway. He wants a full psychological report done on her "...to prove that she is a bi-polar narcissist."
ROBERT NEEDS HELP
At times, through his rage, Robert realizes that he is speaking and acting irrationally, but he is having trouble being calm right now.
The next morning on the ferry to Manhattan, a commuter friend recommended my online NJ Divorce Course to him. He looked at some of the articles and he liked what he read.
He also signed up for my Daily Dose of NJ Divorce email series which provided him with much additional knowledge and emotional comfort.
Ultimately he hired us to represent him in his divorce case.
We helped him understand the law, and in particular, the way that our divorce court judges in Monmouth, Ocean, & Middlesex counties tend to apply the law to situations like his.
Together, we explored a series of realistic settlement possibilities.
I also recommended several therapists and financial experts to him.
Robert hired a therapist who helped him deal with his feelings of betrayal, got him to slow down and think about what his goals are, and helped him to focus on what type of custody arrangement is in the best interest of his children.
He also hired a financial advisor, who helped him get a better grasp on his finances and helped him prepare his Case Information Statement to support his divorce case's financial theory.
He and Nicole attended a special custody mediation program at the Court House.
We exchanged multiple settlement proposals with Nicole's lawyer, and Robert and Nicole, with their attorneys present, participated in mediation of the economic issues.
Ultimately, Robert settled the case in a way that meets his needs and the needs of his children.
Nicole was not able to "take him for all that he's got." Not even close.
It was a fair deal.
There was no need for an expensive, drawn-out contested divorce trial. Issues of custody and money were worked out fairly.
Ultimately, he and his wife had a simple uncontested divorce hearing at the Monmouth County Court House in Freehold.
ROBERT'S LIFE GOT BACK ON TRACK
Robert stopped in to say "hello" recently. He looks like a new man.
The rage from the betrayal of his ex-wife and his former best friend that at one time had consumed him is gone.
He told us that his relationship with his children has never been better, and that he was surprised to find that he is not lonely but rather he's enjoying his freedom.
He's able to afford to do what's important to him.
"Life is good!" he told us.
My guess is that you are at this website because like Robert, you have also reached a breaking point.
Being married to a narcissist like Robert was can be really tough.
But so can being married to someone who suffers from bi-polar disorder, with the frequent "highs" and "lows" seeming to come from nowhere and making your life unbearable.
Or maybe it's alcohol.
Often it is a combination of these things that causes someone to consult with me.
WHATEVER THE CAUSE, YOU PROBABLY FEEL THAT A DIVORCE MAY BE COMING, AND YOU HAVE SERIOUS CONCERNS.
You are seeking direction.
"What are my options?"
"What should my next step be?"
You feel a need to find out how to best protect your kids and your assets, and you need to be sure that you'll have enough money if you do actually divorce.
You don't want to fight; you just want to be fair.
But your spouse is angry at you.
And you probably do not think that your spouse will be fair to you.
You may fear that you will be taken advantage of if you are not very careful.
You may be concerned about what the future holds for you. There is uncertainty, and the uncertainty may be making you fearful.
Thoughts of being alone again, of returning to the dating scene, and of being a single parent can add to your already over-burdened mind.
It probably has become hard for you to sleep.
And so you are tired...
I understand the many stressors that people like "Robert" (and maybe you) who are facing the possibility of a divorce often confront.
Every day for the past 33 years I have worked with divorcing people in Monmouth, Ocean, and Middlesex Counties who had concerns like yours.
I am highly trained and experienced as a divorce specialist.
And, for the past 33 years, I have personally experienced what divorcing families go through. (CLICK HERE TO READ "MY STORY" AND LEARN ABOUT MY BACKGROUND)
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW
The old saying, "Knowledge Is Power" certainly is true when it comes to divorce.
The most useful thing that you can do to help yourself RIGHT NOW is to do exactly what Robert did: get a good, solid "divorce education."
A "divorce education" is specialized knowledge about divorce in New Jersey--knowledge that you do not have nearly enough of just yet.
The more that you learn about how child custody works, how assets are divided, and how alimony and child support are determined, the sooner your anxiety will start to disappear. (CLICK HERE to be taken directly to my "NJ Divorce Course.")
This online educational course contains short articles about any divorce-related topic that interests you.
The course contains 84 of my articles organized into 13 online lessons that you can review in any order that you wish.
The knowledge that these easy-to-read articles will give you is the best way that I have discovered for divorcing people to learn how to conquer their divorce-related fears.
In addition to my NJ Divorce Course, I offer a second way to help you learn what you need to know about divorcing successfully in New Jersey.
Introducing my "Daily Dose of NJ Divorce" email class.
If you would like to receive cutting-edge NJ divorce information from me, delivered directly to your email once each day starting right now for the next month, then sign up for my "Daily Dose of Divorce" emails below.
We will not send you Spam but rather only helpful, insightful information about how to best solve important divorce-related topics in New Jersey.
Your first "Daily Dose of Divorce" email will arrive a few minutes after you sign up, and then once every 24 hours, for the next 31 days.
You can unsubscribe at any time...but few people do.
And your divorce-driven anxiety should start to decrease each day as you learn what you need to know to get through this tough time.
If you'd like to meet with me personally, call me at (732) 845-9010 or SEND ME AN EMAIL BY CLICKING HERE. We'll get you in quickly for your "Divorce Strategy Session."
When we meet, we will carefully go over the facts of YOUR case, your particular concerns, and we will discuss the most productive ways to satisfactorily resolve those issues.
I designed this website to offer help to anyone who is willing to take the time to read the articles and learn from them.
Take advantage of these resources...spend some time going through these articles.
I promise that they will help you.
Steven J. Kaplan, Esq.
Law Practice Specializing In
Divorce and Related Issues
5 Professional Circle
Colts Neck, NJ. 07722