Charles and I have been together for ten years now, and I would say that our life hasn’t been all highs – but whose life is perfect, right? My husband has obsessive-compulsive disorder, although I didn’t know this until we got married. We have a son who luckily doesn’t have one, but both of us are tremendously affected in terms of our time, work and school, and the family as a whole. But don’t get me wrong – I have no regrets. I’ve had my share of frustrations for the past years, but I’ve come to accept it, which is the first step in appropriately dealing with OCD in your loved one. We’ve successfully made certain adjustments, and yes, we do feel stressed and anxious from time to time but overall, it has been a happy life.
As a wife of someone with OCD, I would just like to share my experiences firsthand in the hope of being able to help a fellow wife, a husband of an OCD wife, or anyone who is living with a loved with the disorder. “OCD can be very overwhelming to families and can really interfere with how families can normally function,” says Dr. Jerry Bubrick, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute. And he’s right with that.
My OC Husband
Charles used to have a lot of issues when we were newly married. He would tell me that he thinks I didn’t care about him or that I wasn’t sensitive enough. The first year for me was the hardest, as I didn’t have any idea at all what he had and how to help him. He would be drinking water from a glass and then he repeatedly puts it down and raises it again and again. Another time he closed our door and put the key inside the knob to lock it, but he couldn’t – he just kept turning it over and over again!
I was concerned and a little scared at the same time. I called my dad and told him about it, and that’s when I first heard about the disorder. He said that Charles might be obsessive-compulsive. I confronted Charles about it, and initially, he got mad. Or perhaps it was a way of covering up for his embarrassment. He couldn’t accept that he had a mental health illness, as it is a psychiatric condition described as excessive repetition of doing things. For a whole year, we both were exhausted, frustrated, and very stressed.
Then in our second year, my husband came to me, crying. He said he couldn’t afford to lose me and destroy our marriage just because of his illness. And I said I didn’t want that too. So we talked. He shared everything that he was going through – that he couldn’t control his urge to do something even though he wanted to stop. He felt isolated and he said it was the reason why he didn’t want to go to the parties of our friends. I looked at him and I felt pity and love. I assured him that he was not alone because we had each other – for better or worse.
The Journey To Therapy
We decided to visit a therapist who specialized in helping individuals with personality disorders like OCD. He discussed with us everything we needed to know about my husband’s condition and told us that we had to be committed to get Charles regular treatment. We should work together to fight the OCD, not fight against each other. As a wife, I needed to have sufficient knowledge of obsessive-compulsive disorder so that I will learn how to deal with my husband’s characteristics and activities. It’s true that “Therapy gives you permission to allow you to feel the pain and know that it’s valid.” Carmen Gehrke, LMHC stated.
When I gave birth to our son, Charles was doing very well with his treatment and we made great adjustments in our marriage. When our son turned 5, we gradually introduced him to his dad’s illness so that he would understand the things that he saw in his dad. He has learned fast and I can say that he is the best son to his dad, showing him his love and affection and support.
I know it sounds really easy, but it’s not. OCD is confusing and disorganized, and progress is not consistent, although it is there. However, I am positively sharing you this to reassure you that OCD can be managed. We just need to have patience and openness to each other. When things go topsy-turvy and you feel like nothing going to turn out right, first remember that you have each other. There’s always the possibility of repair, healing, and recovery.
“Left untreated, OCD can dramatically straight-jacket people’s lives by encumbering them with relentless, irrational, horrific, intrusive thoughts and images (obsessions) and very time consuming, repetitive or elaborate, maladaptive behaviors (compulsions).” –Clifford N. Lazarus Ph.D.