written by: Keren Perles
• edited by: Paul Arnold
• updated: 2/14/2011
What do you do when your spouse wants to involve you in their rituals? How important is it for you to help your spouse get treatment? Dealing with obsessive compulsive personality disorder and marriage can be challenging, but you can support your spouse without supporting the disorder.
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Juggling obsessive compulsive personality disorder and marriage can be challenging. When your spouse insists on a rigid routine each morning, is constantly coming late to social events due to rituals, and insists on keeping the mugs in the kitchen cabinet lined up in a specific order, you may often feel frustration. After all, you may think, can't your spouse just stop doing these things?
If your spouse has OCPD, the answer is, "Not easily." Although your marriage partner can deal with OCPD through therapy and medication, your relationship will need to weather far more than a "typical" relationship does. Ironically, your spouse will have a difficult time with the relationship as well, knowing that you will never truly comprehend how they feel. It can be hard to support your spouse with OCPD, but doing so can help bring you close together and help your spouse to truly heal.
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How You Can Help
One way you can help deal with your spouse's OCPD effectively is by learning more about your spouse's personality disorder. Recognize that it is not your spouse's fault - and not your fault either - and research various ways that your other half can get help for their symptoms. You can do this by taking out books about the disorder, reading message boards containing posts by people who have OCPD and their families, or reading memoirs written by people with OCPD. Once you have educated yourself, work to help your spouse get the treatment needed, from therapy to medication. Educate any children of the parent with OCPD as well.
While your spouse is healing, make sure not to feed into any obsessions. Don't take part in your spouse's rituals, thinking that you are supporting them. Your goal should be to truly support your spouse, but not to support the OCPD. To do this, consider being more proactive about problem solving by sitting down with your spouse and writing a contract about what you will do when they start having obsessions or compulsions. Then stick to this plan when the triggers hit, knowing that you've agreed on it beforehand.
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Support for You
Dealing with obsessive compulsive personality disorder and marriage together can be tough, and you need and deserve some support in your role. If your marriage hits a stressful point, consider attempting couple therapy with a therapist who is experienced with OCPD in the marriage relationship. Keep in mind, too, that when your spouse has OCPD, both of you need may need time to grieve the loss of the "unburdened" relationship you thought you would have. It can take time to develop a new vision of a relationship that takes your spouse's needs and limitations into account.