When Your Spouse Has OCPD
If you have discovered that your spouse has OCPD, you are probably struggling to keep your marriage afloat. After all, people with OCPD can aggravate their spouses with their list obsessions, their need to have everything their way and moral rigidity. You may feel unloved or disrespected, but your spouse may have no idea why you feel that way.
People with spouses who have OCPD often complain about their spouses' black and white mentality. Spouses with OCPD might want their clothes to be color coded, their mug handles to be facing the right way and their schedule stuck to no matter what. So what can you do to improve your marriage, if your spouse seems so demanding?
What You Can Do
If you know that your spouse has OCPD, you may feel powerless. There are, however, things you can do to help. Many of them involve simply changing your attitude. Here are some suggestions of how you can work together with a spouse who has OCPD.
- Know that it's not your spouse's fault. Your spouse was probably born with OCPD, or was destined to develop it. It was nothing that your spouse did wrong, and nothing that you did wrong either.
- Talk openly with your spouse about how certain OCPD tendencies make you feel. Try to come to a compromise about these issues that satisfies both of you.
- Accept as many of the OCPD tendencies that you can comfortably do. For example, if your spouse feels the need to follow a detailed packing list each time before you leave for a trip, accept that as the way it will be. Save your battles for the more inconvenient problems.
- Get your spouse help.
When you discover that your spouse has OCPD, your first thought might be to get your spouse straight to a therapist. While psychotherapy has helped some people with OCPD, very few people with OCPD are willing to take that step. One major difference between people with OCD and those with OCPD is that people with OCD realize that their behavior is problematic, and those with OCPD may think that others are the problem. Similarly, although OCD medications like SSRIs may be helpful, your spouse may refuse to try them out. This is normal, but there are other ways you can get help.
To sidestep these issues, you may want to suggest that you and your spouse go to couples therapy together. Your spouse will be more likely to show up if you are taking part, because the "blame" is then on both of you, rather than just on your spouse. Make sure to choose a therapist that is experienced with OCD and OCPD who can help you talk through the issues between you. The therapist's main goal should be to help you communicate more effectively as well as change their attitudes towards OCPD and their marriage.
CAMH. "Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: An Information Guide." https://www.camh.net/About_Addiction_Mental_Health/Mental_Health_Information/OCD/ocd_recovery.html#relationship
Clinical Guide to the Diagnosis and Treatment of Mental Disorders. By Michael B. First, Allan Tasman. OCD Chicago. "A Spouse’s Pivotal Role in Overcoming OCD." https://www.ocdchicago.org/index.php/friends-family/the-spouses-pivotal-role-in-overcoming-ocd/
OCD Online. "Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder: A Defect of Philosophy, not Anxiety." https://www.ocdonline.com/articlephillipson6.php