It is very frightening to think that something could be wrong with your spouse, mentally. Especially if you’ve described his/her behavior to others and they’ve said that it sounds like your spouse has a personality disorder. We’d like to provide you with some resources to let you see how it is still possible to work on your marriage even with a spouse that may have this.
We received the following message from a concerned husband, and will respond to it below the quote.
“I have been married seven years to a wife with Borderline Personality Disorder. I have been patient and compromising for years as she works with her therapist and psychiatrist but I am at my wits end. I have little sympathy for her and I feel like telling her, “just suck it up and quit acting like a child. She has been drugged up for four years and acts like a zombie. She has finally decided to treat without meds but her withdrawal symptoms are unbearable. It’s time for her to learn how to deal with BPD without meds. Is there any way to successfully treat BPD without meds? Also, please advise how I can talk to my wife honestly about my feelings without her reacting and claiming I’m not supportive or understanding.”
What to do if you think your spouse has a problem
You write that you have no sympathy for your wife. You think she should “suck it up and quit acting like a child”. It is worth exploring where that may be coming from and why that behavior bothers you so much.
Does it remind you of someone else in your life who did not take responsibility? Were you ever accused of acting like a child?
While it is taxing to live with someone who is diagnosed with BPD, the more ownership you can take for your reaction, the more conscious you can be about the situation, and the less aggravated with your wife.
In terms of the ineffectiveness of the treatment, it sounds like it may be worth getting a second opinion.
There are no real medications that treat this personality disorder. Meds may only help treat some of the symptoms like anxiety, depression, or regression.
The most successful form of treating mental health issues with meds is when it is combined with therapy.
Meds should help take off the edge and make the client more capable of participating in therapy. If they merely dope up the person, they are not contributing to long-term healing, besides the side effects.
I have had many clients where one spouse was thought to have borderline personality disorder. It is important to know whether she meets the criteria for this disorder.
With personality disorders there is always a continuum.
Many of us could be on that continuum but not be pathological.
The diagnosis can be a crutch that prevents the patient from doing the work that is needed to heal.
Many people are over diagnosed so it is important that you seek a competent professional. You can read more about the dangers of diagnosis here and here.
If you think your spouse has a personality disorder, here’s what you need to do.
Regardless, she is difficult to live with and you need to find way for both of you to cope.
The more calm you can create in your home, the less likely she will be set off.
One technique that could help you is the Imago Dialogue process.
More marriage help for you if you think your spouse has a personality disorder:
- The Dangers of Diagnosis
- Readers Response to The Dangers of Diagnosis
- 10 Signs of Emotional Abuse You Shouldn’t Ignore or Allow
It will help you both be able to talk about your feelings and really feel heard and validated.
Otherwise, such conversations can become a free-for-all where you both just react.
When we make suggestions to our spouse or share our feelings about their behavior, it can trigger a strong reaction and defensiveness.
It’s important to have a safe process where you can communicate and not worry about the other responding.
That’s what the dialogue does.
I have found it to help, even with couples where one spouse was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
You may even see her symptoms calm down when she feels heard and learns how to listen to you without reacting.
If you are scared that your spouse has a personality disorder and you’re not sure what to do, talk with us about our 2 Day Marriage Restoration Retreat. You’ll uncover what is really going on and gain the clarity about how to fix it so that you don’t have to keep wondering if your spouse has a personality and how to deal with it. You can also schedule a free 20 minute consultation call now.
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