Struggling with whether or not to encourage my husband to get counseling.

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Bo-Peep

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I have no doubt that my husband suffers from PPD. I have educated myself on the best ways to handle some of his less than desirable behavior. Understanding what I am dealing with is a significant improvement from the years of confusion, loneliness and frustration.

But now what? Do I say nothing, work on setting boundaries, managing my own anger, reacting in a more effective way, but keep quiet about what I've learned about this disorder? That somehow seems unfair to both of us. I'm researching all these issues, starting new coping techniques, talking with strangers about it, and all to manage a problem he doesn't know he has.

I wouldn't call our relationship fragile, since it's proven amazingly resilient to all the extreme ups and downs. But he's volatile. If I start seeing a therapist to help me manage this, I will have to lie, or tell him the truth and suffer the consequences (ie more paranoia and resentment). If I suggest he see one, he might, but not without a big heap of cynicism and suspicion, which will likely render it useless. If we go together, I have all of those problems.

I feel like the only hope I have of getting him to embrace help is to first convince him he has a problem. I can't even begin to express how daunting that idea is.

I'm sure others have been in this position. How did you handle it?

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coyote

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Welcome BoPeep,
I am married to an uPPDw. I hear your plight. Before I found out about PPD I encouraged her to seek therapy. As you say why should she go since I was the one with all the problems. Once AI found this site I gave up trying for therapy. I did everything you mentioned; set boundaries against abuse, (which include allegations of infidelity), enforced violations with logical consequences, use medium chill, remember the #C's, no JADE, and no Circular Conversations.

We now have a really good relationship. Yes she gets riled up at times but it typically subsides quickly with Medium Chill and I've not had to use consequences in ages.  The other issue is that a form of CBT called DBT is one of the few therapies to show efficacy with PDs. It takes commitment to the homework and admitting there is a problem, something most PDs are not good at.

I ahve learned it is never a good idea to lie to my uPPDw. When she finds out about the lie, and somehow they usually do, it only reinforces her paranoia. If you feel a need for support through therapy I would say you'd have to be honest about going although you may be able to fudge a tad on the reason for going. Just my 2 cents.
How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.
 Wayne Dyer

“The only person educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.”  Carl Rogers

The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?
Capt. Jack Sparrow

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GettingOOTF

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My experience with therapy with and for my BPDXH was that it just gave him more tools to refine his manipulative and abusive behaviors.

It’s a difficult conclusion to reach and one that takes many of us many years, but you can only work on yourself. You cannot do anything to change someone else’s behaviors you can only work on your reactions to them.

Many people, myself included at one point, think of therapy as some kind of magic pill, that once we get our spouse into therapy they will see the light and change their ways.

I started therapy as my ex insisted we go because “of all your issues”. The reality of therapy is that for it to be of any help the person receiving it has to be 100% committed to the process and to doing the very difficult and often painful work of looking at themselves.

I was very resistant at first, but I have to say that making “us” go was probably the best thing my BPDXH ever did for me. My therapist helped me see that my situation was abusive and gave me the skills I needed to leave. I continued to see her and I do not recognize the person who first walked into her office. All this happened over the course of about 4 years (I took maybe 8 months off and went back this year).

It does seem very unfair that we have to work on ourselves, you are right there. Have you read Stop Caretaking The Borderline? While you say your husband has a different PD I think many of the behaviors are similar and certainly our “caretaking” behaviors are the same across our spouse’s PDs. I found this book very helpful in separating myself from his behaviors and setting my own boundaries.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2018, 11:55:55 AM by GettingOOTF »

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MRound

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I agree with a lot of what is being said here.  My UPPDH sees a therapist, but only because of our DS17.  We had a particularly bad incident (for us) which resulted in my son screaming that his dad needed help.  UPPDH told me that going to therapy is to help reduce stress on DS, and it does seem to me like he has made real efforts in that regard.  After coming Out of the FOG I became much more pragmatic about our relationship—I just wanted calm.  I have created boundaries that help me just check out when H is being difficult, but I occasionally make a misstep.

I think there is almost no hope in bringing insight to a person with PPD, and if that is your goal you are setting yourself up for failure.  If you are not concerned that they will harm you (and I would urge you not to be naive about this) the best you can hope for is for behaviors to improve.  I constantly question whether it does or should matter what is going on in H’s head if his behavior is ok—I don’t have a good answer for this.  It can be pretty lonely at times, and we do not have a physical relationship. I don’t think it is possible to be truly intimate if you know that they can’t understand  your perspective or their effect on you, and a significant element of your interactions is about protecting yourself from their pathological thoughts.  But we mostly enjoy each other’s company and we take care of each other as family members should. 

My own “success” is relatively short lived, in that our maintanence of a calm household has only been for about a year, with a few bad flare ups, so you will have to take everything I say with a grain of salt.  I also think that while my husband harbors some truly “out there” paranoid thoughts about me, I think he is not too far out on the spectrum because he only lets on when he gets really worked up—so I think somewhere in his mind there remains a tiny bit of skepticism.  That may keep him in check and limit externalization of paranoid thoughts.  They pop out every once and a while, so I know he is still thinking them, but I have to live with that—I don’t think they will go away.   

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MRound

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I wouldn’t lie about why you see a therapist, you just don’t need to provide a lot of details.  I am go to a therapist because I am depressed and struggling with family issues that I need to work out or ... fill in the blanks with what suits you.  I don’t need to tell him that I believe the root cause is his PPD.  That is not really relevant.  We had an agreement early on that what we talked about with our therapists was private.  I might even tell my H if he asked me ( I have suggested that he is paranoid, and at separate time that he is mentally ill, but mostly in the heat of an argument, I have never calmly discussed with him my view of his real problem, so I think he really doesn’t want to know).  He was very clear with me that he was not going to talk about what was going on with his therapist, but I do see improvement in his behavior.  My one qualm is that he has suggested that we might see his therapist together.  I am unsure about whether I would reveal to her what I think is really going on.  I’m not sure it would be helpful and it might disrupt the one trusting relationship H has. 

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Bo-Peep

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Thank you, everyone, for the responses.

This has been a crazy journey. It was years of knowing there was something going on inside of him that wasn't normal, and suspecting that so much of his individual behaviors were in some way coming from the same source, but I was never able to put my finger on what it was. Suspicion, jealousy, hyper vigilance, a constant need to control and to criticize, catastrophizing, disassociation, ( I didn't even know there was a word for what those last two behaviors), and constantly treating the world around him as more dangerous and treacherous than it really is.

I've come up with so many metaphors over the years for his behavior. I call the dark side of him his "monster." I have told him to stop feeding his monster on numerous occasions. I've often joked that we are living in two different worlds. Using television, and the tendency of shows to create different versions of the same reality, I've always thought that I am living in Gilmore Girls and he is living in House of Cards.

Now I have all these tools and resources and other people's stories to learn from.  And his monster now has a name. It's a huge relief, but also extremely daunting.

I have some amount of hope for him. When his monster is dormant, he is a compassionate, introspective, intelligent and extremely loving person. He knows that he has jealousy issues and has demonstrated a willingness to change many times. I have observed him actively trying to be better, though he will always fall back on his instincts when he feels threatened, and that's almost all of the time.

Unfortunately, the years of chaos and fighting have convinced him that he is the victim in our relationship. That I never take responsibility for anything (largely because almost everything he accuses me of is either unreasonable or untrue). It's unlikely that he's going to embrace any perspective that paints him as the problem in any way.

But the biggest issue I am having is what, if anything, to share with him about the changes I am making. He is hyper sensitive to any change in my behavior (because obviously, it means I am either cheating on him or about to leave him). I'm not sure how to navigate making the necessary changes to my own way of thinking and acting, without causing a paranoid meltdown of epic proportions. Boundaries and other coping mechanisms will be perceived by him as me being militant and trying to manipulate him.

Also, I do not lie to him. Ever. Even when it would be so much easier to do so. I've always known that if he were to catch me in a lie, it would undo every ounce of progress that I have painstakingly made. I'm concern about how he will react if he ever finds out that I have been secretly operating under the assumption that he has a mental illness, going to therapy, journaling, and getting support from internet forums. You can imagine what that could do to an already paranoid person.

For now, I guess I will just put one foot in front of the other, work with the new tools I have, and trust my instincts. PDs may have a lot in common, but they are also all unique individuals.

Thank you to everyone who chimed in. If anyone else has been in this position, I would love to hear from you too!

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MRound

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I think our situations are so similar.  I have been surprised at how little my husband has commented on my GR and boundaries.  I think in the past he found my efforts at engagement upsetting.  If your H is anything like mine, I know he is paranoid by the little comments he makes or the weird questions he asks.  In the past I would try to “confirm” his intent, which upset both of us.   My new behavior is just not to engage—it does not help anyone for me to hear more about his paranoia because I will never talk him out of it and I think it only cements it in his mind.

I suspect he reads my disengagement as not caring about him.  I have run out of the desire to reassure him (I used to do a lot of begging for him to realize how much I love him).  I have told him that my anxiety created by our interactions was making me sick (it was) and that what I wanted more than anything was to have a calmer home life.  He seems to have accepted this. 

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MRound

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A late follow up and thought on this.  Understanding his behavior as a mental illness, my journaling, and my participation in this forum are not known to my H, but they have been a true lifesaver for me, and have made it possible for me to put my life in a context that prevents me from feeling crazy.  I have been able to admit to a few friends and my mother a part of what I am going through, which also helps. It was truly affirming to have seen the look on one of my friend’s face when I told her a little bit about what my H believes. For these reasons these activities are non-negotiable.  If my husband insisted on knowing about them, and found them unacceptable, I guess that would answer the question of whether we could stay together. 

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Bo-Peep

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I went back and forth on what, if anything, to tell him about any of this. Eventually, it seemed like too big to completely keep to myself. It's taken me too long to earn the small amount of trust that I have to risk blowing it over this and he's too observant to not notice and be alarmed by any change in my behavior.

I waited until he was in a good mood. I told him that I was going to start seeing a therapist. He asked if there was anything I wanted to talk about with him. It was a gentle question, but I also knew that it wouldn't be the last time he asked and that refusing to tell him would have repercussions. I told him that I was going to help me deal with some of the difficulties of our marriage, among other things (my brother was also killed in a car accident a year ago, so I have plenty of things to talk about with a therapist anyway).

I prepared him for what I was about to tell him by telling him that I have been looking for answers to some issues that I have had for a long time, and that I thought I may have found something that can help me understand him better. I also warned him that he wasn't going to like what I found, but that I didn't feel it was a good idea not to tell him. Basically, I framed it in as gentle a way possible, and in a way that really discouraged an angry outburst.

When I told him I thought he had PPD, he laughed and rolled his eyes. I expected that response, in the context we were in at that time. It was a lot better than the angry response I would have gotten if I had gone about it a different way.

I told him that he didn't have to believe it, and I never expected he would. And that ultimately, it didn't matter anyway. I explained that I was going to see a therapist to work on myself, not on him.

In the end, there was a little push back. He was concerned that I was going to try to control him, or that I was looking for a way out of the relationship. He reiterated that most of our problems were because of me, so it was good I was going to go to therapy. He didn't seem to love the idea of boundaries. But it was as good of a conversation as we could have possibly had. I didn't tell him about this forum or my journal, and I didn't try to convince him to go to therapy or even agree with my theory. We just let it drop.

I don't expect that this is the last I've heard about it from him. I'm positive it will come up later, but I'll cross that bridge then.

I'm cautiously optimistic that I can do a lot to improve the relationship by understanding him better and changing my reactions to him. It's been put the the test several times already, and I will say that I have managed to avoid major drama, but it does come at a high personal cost in the form of suppressing anger and trying to forgive and move on without any validation what so ever. I guess we'll see how it plays out.

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MRound

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Good for you.  Sounds like you got a great result!

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flybluebirdfly

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I secretly saw my own therapist because ubdph was making me just miserable.  Finally she encouraged me to cut the sneakiness and tell him.  I did (although I made up some other reason for it).  My own therapy was golden, and I still occasionally go.

Him, however, half-assed it through some therapy on his own (forced due to suicidal ideation), never dug deep into his own problems, dragged me in a few times for "marital" therapy which imploded.  So ya, therapy for us -- CRUCIAL.  Therapy for them -- possibly could do some help, if they go and if they accept what they are going to hear and commit to change. (unlikely).

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Bo-Peep

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I doubt that I will encourage him to seek private counseling. He did once before, for just one session. He came back and declared that the therapist said he was fine and that I was unreasonable to demand complete and total trust from him (which may be true, except that I never demanded that).

I've decided to work on myself, and then maybe push for couples therapy later on. We're in the backlash stage of me setting boundaries, so he's pretty angry and inflexible at the moment, seeing as I've wronged him so badly with my militant, boundary setting ways. 

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flybluebirdfly

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Yes, Bo-Peep, I always experienced terrible backlash to my boundary setting.  It was tough for me to wrap my head out it: set boundaries to make life more tolerant but then also have to deal with the PDs reaction to said boundaries. 

I ended up just mostly using grey rock & medium chill to get through it all.

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Bo-Peep

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What's grey rock?


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Bo-Peep

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Sheesh. I'm sorry. I hope I never have to resort to that one.

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coyote

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Bo peep,
IMO all we can do is work on ourselves. Couples' counseling is rarely effective when one partner is a PD. Medium Chill is akin to Grey Rock but less stringent in my view. I do use MC with my  uPPDw often, even now that we have an overall good relationship.
And yes the initial pushback to setting Boundaries can be harsh, but if we are able to persevere, I think it can be one of our most empowering tools. Of course Boundaries are only as good as the consequences used when they are violated. I realize we all have different levels of ability to enforce consequences, but if we can enforce them Boundaries are very powerful tools. Just my 2 cents.
How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.
 Wayne Dyer

“The only person educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.”  Carl Rogers

The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?
Capt. Jack Sparrow

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MRound

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I find the linked description of gray rock a little too over the top.  For me, it is the feeling that all of my UPPDH’s emotion can crash into me without causing me to move or respond.  For example, he was going somewhere and got it in his head that he wanted to use a suitcase/bag he has not used in at least a year.  He stomped around looking for it grumbling that he can never find his stuff.  (He is a slob and never puts anything away, and since I know better than to touch his stuff, I can confidently say “I don’t know where it is”). I used to get all involved with this, telling him I hadn’t touched it and playing into his clear implication (which he makes all the time) that I had done something with it, perhaps hidden it or thrown it away on purpose. Now I just shrug and say I don’t know.  He still stomps around and gets surly, but I don’t give him the opening he is looking for to blame me, which is a deep need on his part.  I think he knows on some level that it is not right to punish people for his own bad moods so he looks for excuses (this is not, I am quite sure, conscious on his part—if you asked him he would say I was too sensitive, and besides, if I am so defensive, maybe I did do something with it). If he really starts stomping, muttering, yelling, or looking like he is actually going to accuse me,  I go elsewhere.  So anyway, I imagine myself a grey rock in the surf of his emotional turmoil.  For me, medium chill is just a little more participatory. 

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Frazzled

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My attempts to get my uBPD ex-"friend" to get real therapy instead of the joke of a therapy he was getting also ended up futile, so I ended up blocking all contact from him. He, having never learned from his mistakes, is still trying to find ways to get in contact with me, including donating to me and my husband as part of a fundraiser. While I thanked all the others that donated to me, I skipped him.

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1footouttadefog

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There is Medium chill, and there is Grey rock.

Different tools for different problems.

Medium chill is for Maitaining contact and prevention the use of of tools against you.  It stops of shortens circular arguments, and a lot of gaslight g attempts for example.

Grey rock is for getting rid of communication and discontinued contact.  Or for whe. You are forced to maintain contsct but want it as a very minimal level.