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One of the main problems of OCPD in marriage partners is a sense of misplaced priorities. For example, a person with OCPD may show excessive devotion to work, to the exclusion of family time and other relationships. A spouse can often feel ignored, and may feel that their relationship is at fault. In truth, it is not the relationship, but the need for everything to be "just so" at the office that puts work in the top priority slot.
The spouse may also feel uncomfortable whenever the two of them go out with friends, or even have a discussion with neighbors. The person with OCPD may come across as gruff, unsympathetic, or obstinate, which can make the spouse feel guilty and disappointed in their identity as a couple. The spouse also may look down on the person with OCPD for displaying frugality and being overly stringent, both with him or herself and with others (such as children). The OCPD may preclude any flexibility in schedule, which can affect vacation plans as well as daily changes in schedule.
In addition, the person with OCPD may rely heavily on strict moral codes, which can strongly affect a marriage. The spouse may be turned off by any self-righteousness about "the way things should be done," and can feel judged for every action that is 'not up to par'.
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The person with OCPD may also display perfectionistic qualities, especially an obsession with lists. A spouse may feel overwhelmed by these lists, or may refuse to use them, which can only incense the person with OCPD. In addition, the perfectionism may cause the person with OCPD to hold back from assigning tasks to others, insisting on doing everything rather than relying on others to do things "correctly." At the same time, the person with OCPD may never finish anything due to being so caught up with each detail and feeling compelled to do it exactly right. This can affect a marriage by leaving a spouse feeling helpless, unable to take part in daily tasks that keep a home running.
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OCPD in marriage partners comes to a head when hoarding is involved. Hoarders collect worn out or useless objects, often to the point of overwhelming a home. These objects can quickly take over room after room, but the hoarder will refuse to throw any of them out. Although hoarding occurs often with OCD sufferers (who are different from OCPD sufferers), it can also appear in people with OCPD, putting a marriage in grave danger. The spouse may give ultimatum after ultimatum, but the useless items will continue to overwhelm the living space. Often, a spouse's insistence on leaving is the only motivation strong enough to push the hoarder to get help for hoarding tendencies.
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The Symptoms of OCPD in Marriage Partners
Many people confuse Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). This series discusses the differences between the two, and discusses various aspects of OCPD.