For many, the holidays are a time of joy, cheer and family. For some, especially when you’ve got an ex-husband prone to rage when he doesn’t get his way, not so much.
The reason why narcissists love creating chaos during the holidays is because of the excess energy everywhere, especially energy that’s not being spent on them. The narcissist deals in energy, and they cannot be swayed by reason or logic. Along with empathy, appealing to their rational side is just not something that holds any power over them.
When you and everyone else’s attention is focused on something other than them, the narcissist will retaliate, like a child, and demand that attention back. During Christmas, all that jolly goodness and warm cheer become all the more apparent to him, and he won’t like that one bit.
So, it’s that time of the year again, and here are some ways the narcissist might attempt to ruin your holiday, and how to put an end to it.
5 Crucial tips to stop your narcissistic ex from ruining Christmas
Demanding that you spend Christmas together
Sometimes this works out if you actually like your former in-laws. But more often than not, because many narcissists get their personality traits from their own family, it will pain you to do so.
What you can do is make your presence sound unappealing and troublesome to him, and to ‘sandwich”’ your request between flattery, like so:
“[Name], I’m honoured that you still want me to join your family, and it is very kind of you to invite me over. You are such a good father to be thinking of the kids like that.
However, I fear that it’s going to be a lot of trouble for you, because your mother doesn’t particularly like me, especially not now that we’re divorced, and you’ll have to step in and defend me. Your Christmas dinner will be ruined, and I’m sure you don’t want the kids to see that. They do so love spending quality time with grandma.
So if you could give them a peaceful Christmas without me, I’m sure that they would appreciate that more. Also, they get to spend more time with you, and it would make them so happy.
Would you like to do that for the kids?”
Further reading: Crucial tips for co-parenting with a narcissistic ex.
Being critical and unreasonable
If you’ve been co-parenting with a narcissist for any amount of time, you’ll know that this is unavoidable. By being difficult, the narcissist is trying to get you to pity them and cater to their needs, enforcing their desire to feel important.
It won’t matter how much the holidays mean to you, it’s always about what it means to them, and they will wail about the misery you are making them go through.
A way to manage this is to simply not rely on the narcissist for anything, and/or to completely leave them alone once they get like this. You must understand that you are no longer bound to him in marriage or in a relationship, and you do not have to cater to him any longer.
That means that you have no obligation to be nice and invite the narcissist to any Christmas party or year-end work event. Instead, ask someone whom you know will enjoy the event and make the occasion a much more enjoyable one for you.
When he complains or tries to guilt you, texts back can simply be:
“When you feel better, you can join us.”
“We can plan things when you have calmed down.”
If he gets indignant, simply repeat what you’ve said. If it gets worse, simply say:
“I will not respond to you until you can speak to me more kindly. Each time you do this, I will put my phone away for an hour.”
Refrain from typing more, and in most cases, do not even respond. Your peaceful Christmas will be worth it.
Disappearing and leaving you in the lurch
The vanishing narcissist does not care that they have left you alone to deal with the kids and the Christmas chaos. It is not of any consequence to them. They will find a way to justify it, and if they can find a way to tie it back to you, that your actions are the reason why they vanished, they will gladly do so.
To deal with this, ensure that you get what you want out of the narcissist first before you do what he wants. For example, he needs to pick up the kids and be with them for two hours before you do the family’s Christmas shopping. He only gets what he wants when he gives you what you want.
If possible, do the same thing as above. Do not rely on the narcissist to help you out with anything during the holidays. Or at least, always have a contingency plan, so if he disappears or is late, you have something else to rely on.
Ask someone whom you can definitely rely on for help, such as a relative or a trusted friend. If it helps to shell out a bit more money (and you can afford it) get catering and presents delivered for you, do so. Pre-empting this is a huge step to stop your narcissistic ex ruining Christmas.
How to stop your narcissistic ex ruining Christmas (cont.)
Cancelling at the last minute and going away with their new love interest
This can have devastating effects on both you and the children. You will feel like you’ve been replaced. The children will feel like they have been abandoned and might ask if they did anything wrong to make Daddy go away.
You might see happy pictures or updates of the couple on social media, which will deepen the hurt and anger.
This happens because the narcissist needs a new supply of energy, and has decided that his family is of no use to him anymore. You have been replaced, but not in the way you think. The new woman isn’t better than you are, the narcissist has chosen her simply because she’s new and not under his control yet.
One way to handle this is to simply not expect much from your ex. If you don’t expect much, you cannot be terribly disappointed. Enforce the children’s role within the family by assigning significant duties, such as baking the cookies, carving the turkey, or wrapping the presents. Step up where their father couldn’t, and be warm, loving and calm.
Be determined that their holiday will not be ruined by planning fun new things for them to try. They will be comforted and encouraged by your energy.
Taking credit for your hard work, idea and plans
This is classic narcissistic behaviour, so don’t be too surprised when he does it. It’s only to make him look good in front of people.
Keep all of your receipts, store your emails in a folder and keep a record of your plans so that there’s undeniable proof that you were the one in charge. You can even offer to make him look good by helping him with something else, so he can brag about that instead.
In the end, you might not even want to argue with this, since a calm, pleasant holiday where the narcissist is happy might be worth him stealing away some credit.
Final words: How to stop your narcissistic ex ruining Christmas
Managing a narcissistic ex during the holidays is challenging but feasible. Set clear boundaries and decline unreasonable requests. Don't rely on them; have backup plans in place. When they cancel or disappear, be prepared with reliable help. If they try to take credit for your efforts, keep records but prioritise a peaceful atmosphere.
By implementing these strategies, you can regain control of your holiday season, protect your well-being, and create cherished memories. Your happiness is worth the effort to manage a narcissistic ex, allowing you to enjoy the true holiday spirit.
With careful planning, it is possible to stop your narcissistic ex ruining Christmas and even emerge with some good memories.
Here’s to a happy holiday and New Year!