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When you combine OCD and marriage, it can feel like the disorder is running your relationship. From the obsessive fears and worries to the time-consuming rituals like checking locks or washing their hands, your spouse’s diagnosis is bound to impact every aspect of your life.
Acknowledging that your wife or husband has OCD can raise a variety of painful emotions — frustration, sadness, fear. Yet, with your compassionate support and appropriate treatment, your spouse may find the relief they crave from this chronic anxiety disorder.
Being in a Relationship With Someone Who Has OCD
Every relationship has its difficulties, from petty arguments to overbearing in-laws. Living with someone with OCD creates an additional array of marital stressors. OCD is one of the most difficult mental conditions to understand and cope with. As the spouse of someone with this serious mental health disorder, you have probably faced many unique challenges, such as:
- Emotional stress from the unpredictability of OCD symptoms.
- Anxiety caused by a sudden onset of your partner’s symptoms.
- Burnout from having to help manage your spouse’s rituals or anxieties.
- Your personal worry about their well-being.
How to Cope with a Spouse with OCD
Living with, supporting and loving an OCD spouse is absolutely possible. One factor is learning how to effectively cope with your spouse’s obsessions and compulsions, rather than putting up with them. Here are our suggestions on how to protect your emotional well-being and forge a healthier relationship.
1. Accept Your Partner’s Diagnosis with Compassion
Your spouse’s upsetting and sometimes erratic behaviors and thoughts can begin to weigh heavily on you, potentially causing resentment in your relationship. As you learn more about OCD, empathy and compassion can replace anger. Talk to your spouse about their experience. Join a support group. You might also read books, articles and websites to gain insight.
2. Avoid Accommodation
Many people who have a loved one struggling with OCD fall into accommodating behaviors. You might find yourself reassuring your spouse’s fears, participating in their rituals or even getting the things they need to perform rituals.
Accommodation only makes these compulsions worse in the long run. Instead, have a conversation with your spouse, gently letting them know that you will no longer be participating in these activities.
3. Challenge False Perceptions
Those with an obsessive-compulsive disorder see the world through filters of fear and anxiety. Your spouse may be aware of this pattern but unable to break free.
When you gently question that reality and challenge false perceptions, you can help your spouse reevaluate their obsessive fears. For example, if your wife is on her way to the door for the fourth time, let her know she doesn’t need to do that. Even if she gets angry, hold your ground and show compassion. Try to encourage her and remind her that she doesn’t need to be afraid.
4. Maintain Your Own Self-Care
When you have a spouse struggling with OCD, it’s vital to take care of yourself. You need energy to effectively help your spouse. Be sure to carve out pockets of time where you rest, relax and pursue your own interests.
Find Effective Treatment for OCD and Addiction at Gateway Foundation
If your husband or wife has obsessive-compulsive disorder accompanied by an addiction to drugs or alcohol, they need comprehensive treatment. Our compassionate addiction and mental health professionals will walk with your spouse through each phase of their individualized treatment to help them find relief from OCD and freedom from addiction. Contact us today to learn more.