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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My wife is incapable of admitting she made a mistake, or apologizing for anything, no matter how minute. She's expert at turning everything around to be "my fault". Changing the subject, bringing up my past faults, etc, yelling, or painting herself the victim. All of her faults are really because of me she says. I try to always make respectful 'complaints' to her, not 'criticisms' but it doesn't seem to make any difference. She flies off the handle yelling at me for the smallest things.

Frankly, I have no interest in sex with such a person. That being the main reason we have no kids. I have more intimacy with my coworkers than her because at least they don't yell at me when I share something personal. There are good times in between the fights, but overall, I can't share things with her because I never know what will set her off. I can't trust her to accept me if I share personal things with her. It has never been successful. I long to go to work because I have more peace there. I start feeling anxiety as quitting time nears.

I need help because I can't seem to get away. I care for her, but I can't live with her NPD, OCD, phobias and issues. I have tried too hard to make her happy and only made myself miserable in the process. Giving up friendships, family, hobbies, interests to devote myself one hundred percent to her, but it is never enough. I feel trapped because her raging has a control over me. I fear it. I want to avoid it all costs because it feels so bad, but leaving seems even more scary. Still love her a lot, but tired of walking on egg shells. I feel my health deteriorating from the constant stress. What the heck am I doing? How did I get into this mess?
 

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My wife is incapable of admitting she made a mistake, or apologizing for anything, no matter how minute. ...

Frankly, I have no interest in sex with such a person. That being the main reason we have no kids. ...

I need help because I can't seem to get away. ... How did I get into this mess?
Sounds like a lot of venting but since you asked for opinions I'll share mine. I hear a lot of anger and resentment toward your wife. Whether or not it is justified it is really bad for both of you.

You need to let go of that and put aside the blame game.

You're not a victim here, you're at least half the problem.
 

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You can't control her, you can only control yourself.

ITS NOT YOUR JOB TO FIX HER. STAND UP FOR YOURSELF!

Divorce her. Alone sounds 100 times better than the living hell you just described.

Afraid to be alone? Get counseling and fix yourself so you can be because...

You can't control her, you can only control yourself.
 

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dang. I could have written this whole thing about my husband. Is she getting help for her mental issues? That's definitely step one. Step two would be marriage counseling. That is, if you want to save this. Do you?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Let me see if I can reply to all in one shot. Venting, yes. But I prefer to do it here than with her because it just makes things worse. Resentments, well, actually you're right. And I appreciate the realization. I would say my resentments are justified, but then I'm sure she could say the same. I know they do no good, but the hard part is releasing them. Especially when the wound gets re-opened every day with the same old behaviors. I wish I could have some time away to heal up a little and go back to her with a fresh attitude. There seems to be no way for that to happen because she has developed a little world in which she can't function on her own without me. She has no friends to speak of except online. She will not leave the house without me. So she is isolated and becoming more and more phobic about germs and other people. Once in a while we travel for fun, but it is anything but fun for me. I need to use a antibacterial wipe on everything I touch or risk being screamed at. There is no hotel clean enough for her. Then she wont allow the housekeepers to clean it so it gets nasty anyway, but that's ok because its her germs. Oops, ranting again.
So if it's at least half my fault, what should I do differently? I realize I am not Mr. Perfect either, but I have recognized that and I get counseling already. I have asked her to do the same for her own issues and to go together for our relationship but she absolutely refuses.

Sometimes I wish I didn't love her so much, then it would be so much easier to just divorce. My religion also tells me not to do that. I think reconciliation is much better in the long term, but if she won't get help, and I'm not a trained therapist to help her, what can i do? Really if a person doesn't admit there's any problem and won't get help, there's nothing I can do. The problem is that I'm attached to her and I feel super guilty about leaving her. Also, she seems so overly dependent on me. Although I have fantasized about divorce nearly every day, the reality of really doing it is very painful for me. It's a lot worse than just dumping a girlfriend. We have shared so much. My therapist said the pain would be short term and the benefit long term, but I don't know if I could really do it and if God would every forgive me.
 

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I can relate to all of this as my husbands very similar to your wife. You said you go to therapy which I think is good. Does your wife see a therapist ? And what does your therapist have to say? It is hard to be treated like that day in and out and we end up ultimately loosing a piece of ourselves til we get to the point where u are. I think u need to start doing things for yourself . Go out enjoy life make new friends. Either she follows or she chooses her own path. We can't change them and the sooner we accept this the better it is. It has taken me way too many years to come to terms with it . I am making changes making myself happy. Life is too short to be miserable all the time.
 

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How long have you two been married?

How old are the two of you?

Am I right to assume that your wife does not work outside the home?
 

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What has she done to rid herself of OCD, etc? What has she done to *keep* them?



What have you done or considered doing to take care of yourself -- fitness, IC, books, hobbies?
 

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You cannot change her. Only she can do that. She sounds like she is suffering form some kind of mental illness... agoraphobia probably being part of it.

You sounds very co-dependent. That's when you put so much energy into trying figure how to deal with her and fix her that you stop paying attention to your own needs. Basically you are enabling her to continue this isolated and non-functional life she is living.

I suggest that you get the book "Co-Dependent No More". I think that it will help you stop enabling her. It will help you learn to start taking care of your own needs. Co-dependency is a pretty natural reaction to being in a bad situation. It's like you open a cabinet door and it's full of marbles.. and the marbles are all falling out.. your running around trying to keep the marbles from falling out. But you cannot, no matter how hard you keep trying to stop the marbles.. they just keep coming. That's your life with you wife the way you describe it.

She has created as situation in which she has convinced you that she cannot live without you. It's a state of "victimhood" that is used as a form of emotional abuse to control you. She's doing a good job of it... after all you have no life other than work and her, you have no friends, no family around you. Isolating you like this is needed in order for her to control you using this victim thing she has going.

What I suggest is that you concentrate on yourself.

What are the things you like to do, or used to like to do. Start doing some of them. Go out, make friends. Work out and get in shape. Do not do anything for her that a non-victim would do for themselves.

I also suggest that you get into counseling because you need help in stopping your co-dependency and taking care of yourself.
 

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I can't live with her NPD, OCD, phobias and issues.
Billy, I agree with EleGirl that your W might be suffering from some kind of mental illness. It may include the NPD and OCD you suspect. Many of the warning signs you mention, however, sound closer to those of BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder).

My wife is incapable of admitting she made a mistake, or apologizing for anything, no matter how minute. She's expert at turning everything around to be "my fault".
If she is a BPDer (i.e., has strong BPD traits), she is filled with so much self loathing and shame -- carried from early childhood -- that it is extremely painful for her to admit to herself that she made a mistake or has a flaw. A large part of the problem, with BPDers, is that they never had an opportunity in childhood to develop an integrated sense of self.

That is, they never integrated the good and bad aspects of their own personalities. Hence, if your W is a BPDer, she never reached that point -- in childhood -- where she understood the distinction between "bad behavior" and a "bad person." She thus never realized that she could be essentially a "good girl" who occasionally exhibited bad behavior.

The result is that a BPDer generally categorizes everyone as "all bad" ("against me") or "all good" ("with me"). Significantly, a BPDer also will apply this black-white view of mankind to HERSELF as well. This means that, if she admits making a mistake, she will suddenly perceive of herself as being "all bad" and will suffer extreme feelings of painful shamefulness.

Still love her a lot, but tired of walking on egg shells.
That feeling of "walking on eggshells" is a warning sign for being abused by someone with strong traits of a personality disorder. Although this is true for several PDs, the strongest association is with BPD. This is why the best-selling BPD book (targeted to the abused partners) is called Stop Walking on Eggshells.

...bringing up my past faults, etc, yelling, or painting herself the victim.
If she is a BPDer, she has such a fragile, weak ego that she really has no stable, persistent sense of self. To the extent a BPDer has any lasting self image at all, it is the false self image of being "The Victim," always "The Victim." A BPDer therefore will keep a death grip on that false self image, frequently looking for "validation" from her spouse that it is true.

All of her faults are really because of me she says.
If your W really is a BPDer, she will stay with you only as long as you continue to play one of two roles -- both of which serve to "validate" her false self image of being "The Victim." These two roles are that of "The Rescuer" and "The Perpetrator." Significantly, your role of being "the Rescuer" -- which you played heavily at the beginning of your relationship -- validates her notion of being "The Victim" because, if she were not a victim, you wouldn't be trying so hard to rescue her.

Sadly, as soon as a BPDer's infatuation starts to evaporate, your days of being "The Rescuer" become increasingly farther and farther apart. Instead, the BPDer generally will perceive you as "The Perpetrator," i.e., the cause of her every misfortune. In that way, she continues to receive daily "validation" of her false self image of being "The Victim."

If your W has mild to moderate BPD traits, you likely can improve your relationship by validating her feelings, i.e., by making it clear that you recognize her feelings are very real and she will be held accountable only for her actions, not her feelings. Those validating techniques are discussed in many BPD books, e.g., the one I mentioned earlier.

Yet, if she has strong BPD traits, my experience is that all the validation in the world won't make much difference until the BPDer has had several years of intensive therapy. Similarly, MC likely will be a total waste of time until the BPDer has had several years of therapy to address her underlying issues -- which go far beyond a simple lack of communication skills (which MCs are so good at addressing).

I try to always make respectful 'complaints' to her, not 'criticisms' but it doesn't seem to make any difference.
If she has strong BPD traits, you don't have to do a thing to CREATE the anger and hurt. It is always there because she's been carrying it deep inside since early childhood. You therefore only have to say or do some minor thing that TRIGGERS a release of the anger that's always there. On top of that, a BPDer typically is super-sensitive to any comments that -- in her distorted way of thinking -- is perceived to be a criticism.

The result is that, with BPDers, it usually is impossible to have a calm rational discussion of any sensitive issue. Because a BPDer's rage can be triggered in ten seconds, you always are only ten seconds away from an outburst if you try to raise a sensitive issue. This means, of course, that it doesn't matter at all if you wait until she is in a calm, happy mood. Regardless of her current mood, she is capable of exploding in seconds. As you say, "She flies off the handle yelling at me for the smallest things."

There are good times in between the fights.
With BPDers, the "good times" tend to be "wonderful times." That is, when a BPDer is "splitting you white" and in a good mood, she likely will treat you very, VERY, good. A BPDer's problem is not being "bad" but, rather, being "unstable." This is one reason that it is very easy to fall in love with a BPDer. Indeed, two of the world's most beloved women -- Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana -- both suffered from full-blown BPD if their biographers are correct.

I need help because I can't seem to get away.
Because BPDers generally exhibit a vulnerability, warmth, and purity of expression that otherwise is only seen in young children, walking away usually is very painful and difficult to do -- especially for caregivers like me. The notion of walking away from a sick loved one is anathema to caregivers like me.

Yet, if you really are married to a BPDer, walking away is exactly what you should be doing, given her refusal to seek therapy. As long as you continue to stay with her, you will continue to serve as a frequent trigger to her two greatest fears: abandonment and engulfment. And your enabling behavior (protecting her from the logical consequence of her own bad choices and bad behavior) will destroy her only opportunity to have to confront her own issues and learn how to control them.

I feel trapped because her raging has a control over me. I fear it. I want to avoid it all costs because it feels so bad, but leaving seems even more scary.
If you've been married to a BPDer for several years, consider yourself lucky if you only feel "trapped" and "bad." A large share of the abused spouses of BPDers feel like they may be going crazy. Indeed, of the 157 disorders listed in the APA's diagnostic manual (DSM-5), BPD is the one most notorious for making the abused partners feel like they may be losing their minds.

She will not leave the house without me. So she is isolated and becoming more and more phobic about germs and other people.
I agree with EleGirl that you may be describing agoraphobia in addition to OCD. If your W does have strong traits of a PD, she likely has at least one of the "clinical" disorders as well. With female BPDers, for example, a recent large scale study found that 81% of them have a co-occurring anxiety disorder.

As to your comment that she is phobic about "other people," I note that 33% of female BPDers also have a full-blown social phobia. As to her phobia about germs, I note that 15% of them have agoraphobia in addition to the BPD.

On top of that, anyone suffering from one personality disorder (PD) usually suffers from one or two others as well. With regard to female BPDers, for example, 72% also suffer from at least one other PD (e.g., 32% of them also have NPD and 25% have Paranoid PD). See Table 3 at 2008 Study in JCP.

I'm not a trained therapist to help her, what can i do?
Billy, if she has strong traits of a PD, you cannot diagnose or fix her. I therefore suggest you see a good psychologist -- for a visit or two all by yourself -- to obtain a candid professional opinion on what you're dealing with. Significantly, when BPD may be involved, relying on HER therapist for candid advice during the marriage would be as foolish as relying on her attorney for candid advice during the divorce.

Therapists generally are loath to tell a BPDer client -- much less tell her H or insurance company -- the name of her actual diagnosis. This information is often withheld because the therapist is ethically bound to protect his sick client. It therefore is important to consult with a professional who is ethically bound to protect YOUR best interests, not hers.

Importantly, BPD is a "spectrum" disorder, which means every adult on the planet occasionally exhibits all BPD traits to some degree (albeit at a low level if the person is healthy). At issue, then, is not whether she exhibits BPD traits. Of course she does. We all do.

Rather, at issue is whether she exhibits them at a strong and persistent level (i.e., is on the upper end of the BPD spectrum). Not having met her, I cannot know the answer to that question. I nonetheless believe you can spot any strong BPD warning signs that are present if you take a little time to learn which behaviors are on the list. They are not difficult to spot because there is nothing subtle about behaviors such as strong verbal abuse, temper tantrums, and rapid flips between Jekyll and Hyde.

I therefore suggest that, while you're searching for a good psych, you read more about BPD red flags to learn what to look for. An easy place to start is my list of red flags at 18 BPD Warning Signs. If most of those signs sound very familiar, I would suggest you read my more detailed description of them at my posts in Maybe's Thread. If that description rings any bells, I would be glad to discuss them with you and point you to good online articles. Take care, Billy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
This is all very shocking to me and painful to hear, but at the same time what you all are saying is making sense and helps me feel a little better. Thank you all so very much for sharing your insight with me. I am glad I decided to post here. I had this instinct that things were very wrong in my life and marriage, but I need a third party to look in with objectivity. I realize my wife has many psychological issues, but she is trying so hard to stay in her cocoon, there is no feedback. I am realizing that my words don't affect her. There needs to be actions.

I do see a therapist, that I have seen for years even before marriage. He knows the whole story. Recently he told me to let her experience the consequences of her actions, and not to protect her from them. I hadn't fully realized I was doing that until he said it. Now that I can see it, it is a struggle to break old patterns. It takes planning on my part to be ready. The issue is that I have always hated people being mad at me. I guess due to my own insecurities. So it is so often easier for me to give her what she wants and avoid being yelled at. But I am at the point of not caring as much what she thinks anymore. I am done being a doormat. I have been thinking for a while that I ought to see another therapist for a fresh perspective. And for an action plan.

Frankly I can't bear the thought of divorcing, but I also can't bear the thought of not divorcing. I dont' know if that makes any sense. I guess I do need some help to break out of this unhealthy cycle and unhealthy thought patterns.
 

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Has the therapist you've been seeing for years ever mentioned BPD, Borderline Personality Disorder? Either way, a fresh perspective from another therapist sounds like a good idea.

My hunch is that Psychologists (PhD's, PsyD?) tend to have more experience treating personality disorders and OCD as compared to others in the helping professions, but that is only a hunch. Of course, what matters is the what the therapist knows and has experience treating.

I have found the search tool at www.psychologytoday.com to be quite helpful when searching for a therapist with certain experience or claimed expertise. (Not sure if you are in the USA, or if that search tool includes other locations.) Dialectical Behavior Therapy, DBT, seems to be the best approach for those with BPD from what I've read. I see few around here that claim experience/expertise with that in their psychologytoday.com profile.

Even though it is your wife that may being showing signs of BPD, I suspect you'd be better off seeing a therapist that has treated people who have it, simply because he or she would be more likely to understand the toll it has on you. The last thing in the world you need is someone, who through ignorance, would invalidate the burden you feel, no matter why you feel it.

Whatever it is you and your wife are up against, don't give up on finding your way through it. There is help, and a way forward. The trick is to not give up on trying to find it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The more I read about borderline personality disorder the more it fits. She may not be a really really bad case, but pretty much a fit nonetheless. I see my part too. I realize a normal person would have left early in the relationship. I see my own codependency and how it is perpetuating an unworkable situation.

I also see how dangerous it is to make a sudden move without a plan when dealing with someone with this disorder. It could be really bad for me if she decides to get even. On the other side, I need to have a plan for myself so I don't fall back if I really decide it should end. A support system is crucial. Right now I have none.

This therapist seems to have hit it right on the head for me. Ross Rosenburg - his book is called the human magnet syndrome. Has anyone had experience with his materials? I got these insights just from his youtube short videos.

Still I wonder sometimes if this is all in my head, and I'm just imagining it - making things worse than they are. All couples struggle I know, but this just doesn't seem normal to me.
 

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The more I read about borderline personality disorder the more it fits. She may not be a really really bad case, but pretty much a fit nonetheless.
Billy, for the purposes of deciding whether to remain married to her, it really should not matter whether her BPD traits are so severe that they satisfy 100% of the diagnostic criteria for "having BPD," i.e., for having full-blown BPD. Even when a person's BPD traits fall well short of that threshold, they can be strong enough to make the spouse's life miserable and destroy the marriage. That is, a woman satisfying only 70% or 80% of the diagnostic threshold -- who therefore would be diagnosed as "NOT having BPD" -- can be nearly as difficult to live with as a woman meeting 100%.

Hence, a diagnosis of "no BPD" does NOT mean the person is safe to marry -- or remain married to. This perverse outcome is largely the result of the APA capitulating to the insurance industry and courts in 1980 when it adopted a dichotomous method for diagnosing all personality disorders. It is ludicrous to take a "yes or no" approach to diagnosing spectrum disorders because BPD is not something -- like chickenpox -- that you "have" or "don't have." Rather, it is something we all have to some degree. This means that the current dichotomous approach to diagnosis is the equivalent of declaring everyone under 6'4" to be "short" and everyone under 300 pounds to be "skinny."

Of course, psychologists have been well aware of this silliness since the PD categories were adopted in 1980. They nonetheless adopted this binary approach to diagnosing PDs largely because the courts (who don't like to institutionalize people) and the insurance companies (who don't like to pay for treatment) insisted on a diagnostic bright line that would be set very high. Moreover, the psychologists feared that a graduated approach to diagnosis (e.g., low, normal, moderate, strong, severe) might produce inconsistent results all over the country.

Consequently, this binary ("yes" or "no") approach has been an embarrassment to the psychiatric community for 35 years -- a problem they are in the process of correcting. The graduated approach almost made it into the new manual released in May 2013 (i.e., DSM-5) but, at the last minute, the APA membership decided to delay its introduction until more empirical research has been done to support the proposed five gradations.

Ross Rosenburg - his book is called the human magnet syndrome. Has anyone had experience with his materials?
My understanding is that his book is highly recommended, even by the author of the best-selling Codependent No More. I'm not surprised that you find Rosenberg's advice to be such a good fit, given that he seems to specialize in the issues of codependency, narcissism, and BPD. He apparently is the owner of a counseling center in the northern suburbs of Chicago.
 

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So interesting that you mention the criteria for assessing if someone has a disorder because I mentioned all this to my therapist yesterday and he pulled out the book, read the symptoms and asked me to count how many fit. There are 9 symptoms, and she fit 6 or 7 of them. They say you have to have at least 5. He told me that his initial diagnosis of my wife was BPD years ago based on what I told him. He then began leaning more toward OCD later. But it was a shock to me that he had seen it so long ago, yet at the time the label meant almost nothing to me so it just passed by me without much impact.
I appreciate the history you gave me on the psychological and insurance industry. Funny because as he was asking me the 9 symptoms and saying 5 proved she had it , I thought wow, who came up with this goofy ass system? It is an inexact science to be sure. And frankly I could see some of those traits in me, so surely we all have them to some degree. My therapist said about the same.

My wife just has so many issues, that it is truly overwhelming to me. I really feel stuck because I don't have much energy to deal with them all. I look back and see so many times where I probably should have gotten out. Now in some ways I am very numb to the madness and have developed my own ways of coping. Not all of them being healthy. If I could get away for a while, then come back I think I would have perspective. And I might realize that I have been putting up with a truly intolerable situation.
 

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I wish I could have some time away to heal up a little and go back to her with a fresh attitude. There seems to be no way for that to happen because she has developed a little world in which she can't function on her own without me.
See this is your own FAULT. You say you need to get away but here you go saying you can't get away because of her problems!

Just go away she'll have to deal with it!
 
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