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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I think my husband has some kind of personality disorder. I'm not sure, though, and am wondering if it would be worthwhile to pursue a diagnosis. Would a marriage counselor pick up on that kind of thing?

Some of you know our story, but the elements that make me think "personality disorder" are harder to explain. One thing that's struck me since coming here are the number of spouses who, after hearing that their SO is falling out of love/hurting, bust their butts trying to work on things from their end. I first told my husband that if it wasn't for the kids, I wasn't sure I'd be here 3 years ago. I was sick to my stomach with anxiety before that conversation, but I wanted to make sure I wasn't hiding my feelings from him. Before that, we'd had conversations every 3 months or so wherein I'd ask for more affection/care from him, and he'd say yes, but nothing would change. Nothing changed after any of the conversations. We had a lot of them in bed, and I'd be crying, telling him I was afraid we were growing apart, and I'd wait for him to respond, only to hear him snore. I can't even remember how many times this has happened... easily a dozen.

I am starting to feel like he doesn't actually love ME. I think he likes the idea of having a wife and family, and I think he might even love the idea of me, but I don't know that he realizes there's a "me" that's independent of what he thinks I am.

I've seen this lack of empathy with the kids, too. One time I accidentally dislocated our daughter's elbow. All I did was pick her up by the arms, but that's all it takes. He was right there when it happened and insisted that she couldn't be injured, because there was no force involved. I said I agreed, but she was crying, and she was in pain. He didn't want to take her to the ER (it was a saturday), but I put my foot down and told him I was taking her. We were at a friend's apartment and she was heading out the door too, so he came with me, but sat in the lobby. I was shocked. I know he was mad at me for taking her, but she was in pain. I told him that even if he disagreed with me, he should have been there to support her. (And me, I was crying as much as she was.)

There's much more of course, but in a nutshell, it's that I don't think he feels pain when the people he (supposedly) loves are in pain. It could be immaturity, it could be anti-social personality, it could be narcissism, passive-aggressive, or who knows what. But my gut is telling me it's something.

What should I do? He lies a lot, so sending him to therapy on his own wouldn't get me anywhere. I feel like figuring out exactly what it is will help me decide if change is possible. It'll also help me help the girls deal with their father, because even if we were to divorce, he's still going to be in their life.

I've tried googling, but nothing I've come up with really nails him. Help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
He doesn't have the anger of a BPD'er. He's very easy-going, and pretty much everyone would say he's a super nice guy. I sure thought so!

He's certainly got a bit of narcissism/entitlement going on. He doesn't seem to have much empathy, at least for me. He lies, but pretty much only to me, as far as I can tell. Some of the lies seem like gaslighting. He'll do this most often when we're talking, just the two of us, and he'll deny saying something he just said. This went on for YEARS and made me feel like I was crazy and totally unable to follow a conversation. He'll also lie about his past. I still to this day don't know the specifics of his first marriage.
He's so irresponsible with the kids that I can't leave them with him. I can't rely on him to perform any of the adult responsibilities of a family, for that matter. He's very immature.
He's very self-centered.
When I was really sleep deprived and he wasn't doing anything to help me, I started to wonder if he refusing to help me get sleep on purpose, because he's some kind of psychopath. I don't think he is, I think the lack of sleep led me to feel paranoid, but I still sometimes wonder if he's doing this all on purpose.

I dunno, I'm just so confused. What kind of person turns a blind eye to their spouse's pain and suffering, over and over and over again??
 

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Have you read up about Borderline Personality Disorder? I would call Uptown our resident expert on this subject. ;) He has a wealth of information about it, and has helped me to identify that my H has traits of BPD. Here's a link of a post from Uptown that you might find helpful: http://talkaboutmarriage.com/general-relationship-discussion/33734-my-list-hell-2.html#post473522
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If he was borderline, she would know. Borderline people are completely insane, nearly impossible to deal with. It was at one time considered part of the schizophrenia spectrum because of how badly BPD distorts one's perception of what is real vs imagined. OP's husband might be a lot of things, but he's not borderline.

It's possible that OP's husband is just a super happy guy who isn't brought down by the world. She could be crying and saying how bad the relationship is, and he's thinking "wtf is she talking about? I'm totally happy. I love my wife and kids. I love my current life."
 

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If he was borderline, she would know. Borderline people are completely insane, nearly impossible to deal with. It was at one time considered part of the schizophrenia spectrum because of how badly BPD distorts one's perception of what is real vs imagined. OP's husband might be a lot of things, but he's not borderline.

It's possible that OP's husband is just a super happy guy who isn't brought down by the world. She could be crying and saying how bad the relationship is, and he's thinking "wtf is she talking about? I'm totally happy. I love my wife and kids. I love my current life."
There are various degrees of BPD. Not all BPDers are at the "crazy" end of the spectrum. My H is what I'd call a high functioning BPD, or "waif" BPD. It was just as suggestion for her to look into, since she didn't mention it in her OP. She is a better judge than you or I as to what her husband's behavior is about. Besides, she already commented after my post that she doesn't think he has BPD, so no need to beat a dead horse.
 

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We saw the neuropsychologist today. She said she her best guess is that it's dyslexia and an auditory processing disorder.... The bad news is, he scored really well on the attention and concentration categories (so, definitely not ADD). That's bad because she said there's no cognitive reason he would be such an unsafe parent. She said she suspects that's a maturity issue. [From your "Getting Worse" thread.]
NL, like you, I was hopeful that ADD would explain his repeated neglect of your kids and you too. So, yes, that result is bad news. I therefore can see why you are now concerned he may suffer from a PD.

Like the other respondants above, I am not convinced he is exhibiting strong traits of a PD. Yet, if he is, my best guess would be that they are traits of Schizoid PD. I therefore suggest you take a look at those traits -- and, more specifically, those of a "secret schizoid" -- at Schizoid personality disorder - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. If those traits sound very familiar, I suggest you discuss them with his psychologist.
 

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I think my husband has some kind of personality disorder. I'm not sure, though, and am wondering if it would be worthwhile to pursue a diagnosis. Would a marriage counselor pick up on that kind of thing?
Because I don't know many details about your story, I'll stick to responding to this part of your post.

We all have traits that are consistent with personality disorders. In my opinion (which is just an opinion!) we have such a high desire to compartmentalize the things we experience into neat little packages that we have created many labels for what truly is just... the human condition.

Some people are naturally high empathy and others are less sensitive to others. Whether your husband has enough traits to earn a label is not all that important when compared to whether you can overcome the problems you're having. A GOOD marriage counselor can help you determine whether your problems are resolvable or not. Yes, a good marriage counselor should also be able to put the label if one is called for. The only benefit I can see from introducing a label like this is IF it's a condition that can be treated - which doesn't apply to personality disorders. Otherwise, the label can only validate that change is not likely, which can be validated without a diagnosis (and it does not require a marriage counselor to come to the same conclusion.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
You can't leave him with his own children? Does he have a job? Friends & family?

What do you like about him?
I can leave him with the bigger one to run to the store, but she's 7 now and very reasonable. Two summers ago he left the girls alone in a swimming pool, graduated entry, and the 3 year old had no life jacket on. He had decided to go and shoot hoops, out of eye- and earshot. I've never thought he was safe enough with them, but this one made me realize that one of the kids could actually die in his care. I just can't take that risk.

He does have a job, but he's self-employed and works from home, so he doesn't have any relationships through that. He has a few friends he sees on occasion, but all of our close friends come from me. He has no brothers or sisters, only one cousin who he's not close to, no grandparents, and his father is severely demented due to a neurological disorder and 30 years of severe alcoholism. His mother is incredibly self-centered. So, family history is certainly enough to explain why he's this way.

As far as what I like about him? Not much these days. I used to like the fact that he was so easy-going, never critical, just really nice. That's what's so confusing about where we are now... I'm reeling as to how someone who seemed so nice (even my friends and family are always going on about what a nice guy he is) could have emotionally abandoned me like this. It makes me feel like I'm crazy.

KathyBatesel, you answered my question. If a good MC will guide us in the right direction,I won't push for a psychiatrist. We haven't met with his neurologist yet to discuss the MRI and cognitive testing (early onset dementia was one possible explanation for his behavior, and there's a family history. His cognitive testing was neither totally reassuring nor definitive for a problem there, so he has to repeat the testing in 1 year. That'll tell us whether he's holding steady and always been like this or if he's declining. So, early onset dementia is still a possibility).

Thanks so much everyone.
 

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If a good MC will guide us in the right direction,I won't push for a psychiatrist.
NL, I agree with Kathy that, for the purposes of deciding whether to divorce your H, obtaining a PD diagnosis is unlikely to be helpful. If he does have strong PD traits, those traits can make your life miserable even when they fall well below the diagnostic threshold for having a full-blown PD. Living with a man satisfying 75% of the diagnostic criteria can be nearly as difficult as living with a man satisfying 100%.

I also agree with you that, if he is highly resistant to seeing a psychiatrist, a good MC may be the best next step. Keep in mind, however, that -- when Kathy recommends seeing a "GOOD marriage counselor" -- her emphasis is on the word, "good." Finding a good MC likely will require some effort and research. Kelly Grant (columnist for Smart Money and The Wall Street Journal) cautions:
Couples looking to stave off a split may want to choose their expert help with care. Training and experience levels among purveyors of marriage advice run the gamut from never-took-Psych-101 to spent-more-time-in-school-than-your-doctor.... Therapists are required by states to get at least a master's degree in the discipline and a passing score on a national licensing exam.... But pretty much anyone can hang out a shingle as a marriage coach, relationship adviser or other uniquely labeled provider of "alternative marriage counseling" -- they just can't call the services "therapy." License or no, experts say the risk for consumers is that it's so easy to pick a provider who doesn't have the education or skills to solve their problems. See 10 Things Your Marriage Counselor Won't Say - SmartMoney.com.
Similarly, Dr. Jim Hunt, a psychologist, states:
There could easily be three to four hundred thousand therapists in the United States. Some are licensed, some are not; some have Ph.Ds, some do not; some have Master’s degrees, some do not; some are RNs most are not; some are psychiatrists, some are psychologists, some have an Ed.D., and some are MFCC’s, (or MFT’s, as they are so designated in some states). See M.D., Ph.D., M.A., MFCC or MFT, etc… Who are these people?.
IMO, your H's dyslexia and other neurological problems complicates your situation. On top of that, you suspect that he may have a PD which, if true, means there is some risk that a PD would be passed onward to one of your girls. This is why I suggested you see a psychologist. I believe it would be prudent to see a clinical psychologist -- for a visit or two on your own -- to find out what you and your girls are dealing with.

If you go by yourself, the psych will be unable to render a formal diagnosis but will be able to give you his candid professional opinion -- based on your descriptions of your H's behaviors. If you do persuade your H to see a psychologist, you will have to insist on attending a session to find out the diagnosis. As you stated, your H likely would lie to you about the diagnosis.

Finally, the reason I am not suggesting he see a psychiatrist is that doing so would double the hourly cost because a psychiatrist has both a medical degree and a PhD in psychology. Hence, until you know that medication is needed, you can minimize cost by seeing a psychologist first. If you were suspecting bipolar disorder, for example, it would be appropriate to start with a psychiatrist.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
We're in Europe, so a visit to a psychiatrist might be free. Especially if H's neurologist sends us there, but maybe he won't think it's necessary.

I feel very, very unempowered to pick out a good MC here, but we did get a recommendation from the neuropsychologist, so hopefully it's a good one.

I like the idea of seeing a psychologist on my own. I could go when we're back in the US (long story short, I H misunderstood the info pertaining to spousal visas and I'm being kicked out of the country. It's very stressful, because right now I have nowhere to go. The girls and I could stay with my parents, but it's less than ideal. If we're back in the US, they'll want to be in our home, which is being rented out).

It's so stressful. I'll need a psychologist anyway probably, just to help me figure out what to do. I'm still inclined to stay until the girls are bigger, but I'm going to keep an open mind while we're separated.
 

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Everyone has a bit of a narcissistic personality. It is just to what degree are we talking about. If your husband has a personality disorder I don't think there is much that can be done. Personality disorders can't be fixed with medication.
 

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I feel very, very unempowered to pick out a good MC here, but we did get a recommendation from the neuropsychologist, so hopefully it's a good one.
Being recommended by a neuropsychologist speaks very highly about the MC in question. You therefore may do well by starting with that MC if you don't get referred to a psychologist.

As in any profession, there is wide variation in skill sets both among the psychologists and among the MCs. Although the psychologists receive much more formal training in school, after 10 or 15 years of clinical experience, some of the MCs may be at least as knowledgeable about mental issues as many of the psychologists. Hence, it is only because I don't know which of the MCs are really good that I advise folks to see MCs for improving communication skills and to see psychologists for addressing the more serious mental issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Would a good MC recognize that they're dealing with problems beyond their expertise and refer us out to a psychologist if necessary?

I'm very glad that you think this might be a good MC. I also am happy that we're at least starting the counseling here, because maybe H's culture has something to do with is behavior too.

Cross your fingers for us!
 

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Would a good MC recognize that they're dealing with problems beyond their expertise and refer us out to a psychologist if necessary?
Yes. All of the MCs will refer you to someone else when they realize they are beyond their depth in a particular area. None of them are wanting to do harm. The "good" ones, however, are more knowledgeable and thus better able to realize when their expertise does not apply to your situation. If the MC (or psychologist) lacks that knowledge, you can end up wasting years of therapy going in a circle.
 

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I have a family member who has a personality disorder and to be honest this does not sound similar. From reading your post it seems his lack of empathy and lies are the two major things with him. He sounds like someone who doesnt live in reality all the time and can deny reality to himself by lying and lack of feeling. I think you could be going too big into different diagnosis when the problem could be much simpler and not as dramatic. You should go talk to a psychotherapist yourself and see what they say or what they recommend.
 
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