working on marriage with OCPD spouse

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working on marriage with OCPD spouse
« on: May 15, 2019, 12:40:34 AM »
I've been in a relationship with a loving man who is incredibly devoted to me for the last 5 years. Two years  ago, we were legally married. Last year, we were married before our friends and family. This December, we moved in together.

Many years ago, when my husband was in a relationship with a now-ex girlfriend, he suffered from many relationship issues and a resultant serious depression. At that point in time he was clinically diagnosed with OCPD, although he never bothered to learn more about the illness or its treatment. He doesn't say much about that previous, very serious (5-year long) relationship, but in hindsight, the signs and symptoms are all there. He said he felt like he never had enough time. Like he was the one doing all of the cleaning. Nothing was ever clean enough for him. He had serious problems with his partner's family visiting the house they shared.

This December, my OCPDh moved in. Things immediately started going wrong; we hosted Christmas for the first time. My parents had asked to stay in our spare room for the two days before Christmas - when my OCPDh would still be out of town - and although they had stayed there before, my OCPDh felt so uncomfortable with this idea that I declined. On Christmas day my OCPDh followed my parents around, trying to control their every step. He had my father move his car out of our driveway, where it wasn't doing any harm - he just didn't want the precedent of my father parking in the driveway. He hovered over my mother and called her "nosey" when she tried to put her shoes away in what she thought was a closet - turns out it was a bedroom door. He prevented her from looking in the kitchen for pots, pans, cutting boards, etc - literally hovering over her and preventing her from opening cabinets (she had brought a dish she wanted to cook). When my father went to a different room from my mom (to get away from my OCPDh), my OCPDh realized he couldn't control them both - it was 2 on 1 - so he suggested he take them out for a walk. One thing lead to another and my father wound up feeling justfiably very unwelcome.

We do not live alone. We live with a roommate T, who I've lived with before and consider one of my best friends. Over the past few months, OCPDh's behavior towards T has been irrational, controlling, overbearing, exacting, and lately, abusive. T cannot do anything right.  When something is wrong in the house, it is automatically T's fault; I cannot count the number of times I've jumped in there to said "I did that, not T!". T's explanations of the reasons why he does things are not explanations, but rather deflections. OCPDh views T's very reasonable statements as if they are admissions of moral guilt and inferiority. T has had several occasions in which T has wanted to have someone stay at our house - his sister visited, his father visited, his mother visited. The first time we discussed the first visit, we had a calm discussion in which all three of us thought that we were all on the same page, and went to be happily unaware of what would happen. The following morning when T's sister was about to arrive, I woke up to find OCPDh in an uncontrollable, trembling rage, frantically cleaning every last surface of the house. He was furious that T wasn't there cleaning with him - despite our having had a calm discussion the night before in which we'd ASKED if there was anything that needed doing prior to the visit, and OCPDh hadn't said anything. This cycle repeated itself for the next two family visits - each time, T and I would carefully talk to OCPDh a week in advance and a day in advance to see what he thought needed to be done. Each time we had pleasant, happy, low-key interactions and we thought we would be more chill. Each time the day of the visit dawned and OCPDh would be enraged.

One morning OCPDh woke up to find T showering with the door left accidentally open, slammed the door so loudly the entire house shook, called him a "____ing exhibitionist", and stormed out of the house.

That finally kicked me into gear and I spent the weekend reading about abuse. I swallowed Lundy Bancroft's book and realized that my OCPDh was abusive of T. Things started clicking into place; we had been feeding my OCPDh's  PD by asking him what he wanted us to do, which both increased his feelings of self-justification and the complexity of the insane rules we have to follow. I started reading about OCPD and made a list of dozens of insane rules he has asked us that I don't believe any other housemate would have asked; every toilet paper roll in the house must be changed before someone who doesn't live there steps foot in the house. Laundry detergent must be placed in the far back of the laundry machine lest suds build up on the rim of the machine (?!). Etc.

I realized a few things:
a) OCPDh is abusive of T.
b) I am afraid that, if T were not here, OCPDh would be abusive of me. He has displayed no tendency towards this yet, I think he loves and cares for me deeply and trusts my moral compass more than he trusts his own, but his relationship history and behavior towards T makes me wonder; if T weren't around to blame for all the imperfections, wouldn't it be me?
c) Not only does OCPDh have problems with abuse and anger, but he has other classic OCPD dysfunction; he cannot manage his time effectively and procrastinates. His accounts are so stunningly complex (over 40 accounts in two continents) that I cannot fathom doing the taxes, so I thought he could do them; last year he procrastinated, got an extension, then wound up procrastinating so much on getting the paperwork to the accountant that the accountant billed us $20k to do them (!!!) - but thankfully cut the bill in half. I think it was a clear warning sign from the accountant to not do this again. This year, we have an extension... I have had countless conversations with him, asking what I need to do to get him to spend a day working on the taxes. It is imperative that the plunger get moved from one bathroom to another (not that it's USED in either bathroom!) before he can start on the taxes. The more I do, the more crazy rules he has. Etc.

I've had a rude awakening in the past couple of months. I'm not sure what to do. I told my OCPDh that we are deeply in trouble, that I am contemplating divorce, and that he has a serious problem. He's started reading books. He has started seeing a therapist. He agrees he has a problem with anger. He agrees that he has been abusive. He agrees that he has been clinically diagnosed with OCPD, but he doesn't see that as a problem. He doesn't see or understand that rigidity is a problem; he just knows he has A Problem. He keeps coming at me with questions like "I was raised to use a new spoon in the jam jar to prevent smears of butter and crumbs from getting in. Is this good or bad?" And I keep coming at him with the idea of moderation - that it's generally preferable to use a new spoon in the jam jar, but it's situationally dependent. If we don't have a clean spoon, we can shrug it off. If we're in a rush, we can shrug it off.

I've pointed out that his controlling behavior towards guests is unacceptable in that it is isolating me and T from our beloved friends and family. He agrees it is a problem. The last few visits from guests have seen OCPDh retreat to our bedroom, while he sits alone with his various discomforts, to allow me and T to interact with our guests normally. I appreciate he is working on this, but is this behavior healthy or sustainable?

I'm giving myself time to process. I've spent a lot of the last two months in shock and grief, slowly coming to terms with understanding the situation I've landed myself in. I swing wildly back and forth emotionally, from "I can't do this, I need out right now" to "but my VOWS, I know relationships are difficult, I wouldn't respect myself very much if I turned and ran right now." I'm 34 years old and want children, but I'm aware that I shouldn't make long term decisions in this emotional state, and I plan to give myself - and him - at least another six months before I make any decisions. I am moving ahead with freezing my eggs.

Does anyone have help or advice for me? In my shoes, would you stay or would you go? Is it possible for a person to have a long, happy, loving marriage with someone with OCPD - if that person is receptive to therapy and wants to work on it?
« Last Edit: May 18, 2019, 01:05:51 PM by Bloomie »



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Re: working on marriage with OCPD spouse
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2019, 01:18:44 AM »
Welcome. Check out the toolbox, it's very helpful.
Feel free to read some of my h is not diagnosed but I am convinced that he has ocpd.
There is a section of the forum caked committed to Working on it that you may find helpful also


Penny Lane

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Re: working on marriage with OCPD spouse
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2019, 06:52:49 PM »
I'm so sorry you're dealing with all this. I'm glad you found us. This can be a good place to process the kinds of questions you have.

No one can answer for you if it's the right thing to stay or go. But I will address one thing you said: You want to have kids. It sounds like you don't want to have kids with him until you've processed this and made a decision, which I think is really super smart. But I would add that he's not your last chance to have kids! Deciding to leave him is NOT the same as giving up on children, as much as it might feel like it at the time.

Some questions that might help clarify your thinking about making these big decisions: If things stay the same as they are now, how will you feel in one year, five years, ten years? Are you OK with him treating your best friend that way? Would you be OK with it if someone other than your husband treated your friend that way? Would you be OK with him treating you that way, and if not, what would he need to do that would convince you that he will never do that?

If you're looking at staying and managing your relationship with him, the toolbox has some good interpersonal tips.

Like 11JB68 said, you might check out theworking on it board for tips on how others manage their relationship with people similar to your husband.

If you want to hear more about the possibility of leaving, there's a separating and divorcing board.

Whatever you decide, I wish you lots of strength and peace. Both saving and ending a marriage take a lot of work and strength in different ways. Hopefully you can find some support here to do what you need to do.




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Re: working on marriage with OCPD spouse
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2019, 12:34:02 AM »
I just want to tell you my heart goes out to you. You are very brave and strong. I understand some of the things you described and your story helps me with someone in my life. I think it is good if he wants to get help for himself. You can work with that. If he won't get help or will, you should get all the help you can for you too. I wonder if you need your own person, advocate to talk to. Someone outside your home who is qualified to help you navigate your decisions. I am so glad you are on the forum. I have gotten so much out of this forum.
I wonder if you go out and don't have people over- is it better in a public place? Being on his own turf could set him into that fight or flight mode and I can see how that would make him want to be all over people or retreat alone. If you're out- Can't control an entire kitchen staff and a wait staff! Meet your friends outside the home for now so you can cope too. Pick place he likes and go there a lot. Local businesses can remember your preferences if you become a regular. If he needs to have something his way, they can make that meal the way he likes it.
If your husband wants kids too, then you both can seek help for this reason and be united to work in preparation for a family someday. That is a powerful motivator and uniting force you may both agree on. Hugs to you.