Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) can seem like a stranger getting between you and your spouse. Of course a spouse with OCD can limit your comfort level in your own house, play with the balance of power and limit your lifestyle. OCD rules can seem confining, even smothering. So how do you avoid OCD ripping your marriage apart? How do you avoid OCD related divorce? The first thing to do is to learn all you can about your spouse’s condition. OCD is a brain disorder that distresses and can even disable the sufferer. According to the World Health Organization OCD is one of the topmost causes of disability across the globe. OCD doesn’t just affect your spouse, it affects everyone around them. 60% of family members get involved to some degree in the rituals of someone with OCD. Often slowly an OCD person’s habits, rituals and opinions will take over your life. It can start to feel as though you are being criticized constantly, or as your spouse might see it, re-corrected. Further, they could make you late to engagements say making you go a certain route to avoid potholes. They may curb your good time out by refusing to let you use a public restroom. Of course, making any marriage work can be difficult. But OCD can look like a boulder size stumbling block, especially if the condition has worsened over time.
One way to put things into perspective before you call the divorce lawyer is to see things from your spouse’s point of view. How hard is it for them to live with OCD? Though they do these habits compulsively they may secretly feel guilty about say driving friends away with their difficult behavior, making outings less interesting by interjecting their needs or demands and so on. They may struggle between trying to control their behaviors in order to make you happier and being compelled to fulfill their compulsion or compulsions. OCD sufferers usually take part in these rituals because they are scared of what might happen if they don’t go through them.
They believe deep in their hearts that these rituals keep themselves and the ones they love most, namely you, safe and protected from harm. Now it’s time to do some research. Look on the internet and find local support groups in your area. There are some great books out there about OCD. Contact the International OCD Foundation for more information and see if they have any workshops, symposiums or other resources or events in your area. Be sure to discuss the problems you are having with your spouse. Convince them to go to therapy with you. Tell them the truth. Don’t sugar coat it. If there behavior is driving you to think about seeking out a divorce attorney, maybe this information will provide them with the wakeup call they need to get a handle on their condition.
Offer to help them find a counselor and to go to counseling with them. Make sure this is a therapist they can connect with and that has some experience or background in dealing with OCD conditions. Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at the University of Louisville Monnica Williams, Ph.D. writes in an article for Psychology Today, “Ask yourself, Am I going to let my spouse’s rituals ruin our marriage, or am I going to find strength to be supportive and compassionate so that we can have the marriage that we have always wanted?’” A supportive therapist may be required to help keep the relationship together and cope with the situation depending upon how serious your spouse’s symptoms are. If your spouse is going to therapy, it’s a good idea to go with them so you can get a new perspective on the issue, how to handle them, get knowledge you didn’t have before, and perhaps you can even ask the counselor for some strategies to help you cope with your spouse’s behavior. Being married to someone with OCD isn’t easy. There may be many times you want to throw in the towel. But if you truly love this person and think you can support them through this difficult time you and your spouse should come out better and stronger than ever before. For more, read Loving Someone with OCD: Help for You and Your Family by Karen J. Landsman, Kathleen M. Rupertus and Cherry Pedrick.