How does OCD ruin your life

Help! I am married to OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder causes problems for both partners

By Nicholas Bach, B.A.and Monnica Williams, Ph.D.

“When I turned into the driveway, my husband was standing at the door. He smiled and offered to hold my briefcase and purse. It would have been a very sweet gesture, except he watched expectantly as I took off my shoes to make sure I put them on for surePlace for which he had intended contaminatedPossession. Nobody is allowed to come home with shoes on as this will spread the external contamination into their safety zones.

He suspects I could without being there to watch me to forgetthe rule. Then he would feel compelled to stay awake and clean for long hours while he was angry and probably accusing me of ruining everything. When I opened the door, I felt the sticky feel of liquid soap on my fingers. The doorknob was covered with it. Too late. He had cleaned again. “- A woman patiently married to an OCD.

OCD is a third person in a marriage

Most of you know that the day you get married, you inherit a whole suitcase of added stressors in your life. In addition to the positive aspects of camaraderie and romance, getting married certainly also has negative aspects. There will be communication problems, small arguments, differences of opinion over household responsibilities, problems related to sex, dirty socks on the floor, in-laws, and of course who can hold the remote while watching TV. But what if you were married to not only your spouse but your partner's as well? Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) too?

OCD is a disabling and stressful brain-based disorder that has become one of the leading causes of disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. When you marry someone diagnosed with OCD, you inherit not only the usual suitcase of stressors, but potentially a dump truck - and we're not just talking about hoarders. Previous research has found that about 60% of family members are involved in some degree in rituals performed by a person with obsessive-compulsive disorder (Shafran et al., 1995).

Sometimes it feels like OCD is running the house

Obsessive-compulsive disorder can lead to conflict.

Imagine sitting down to discuss with your spouse what your duties are in the house. Let's say you ask your spouse to take out the trash twice a week and they can't because they're worried about getting the swine flu out of the trash can. Would it be frustrating if your spouse didn't let you into a public bathroom because they didn't want you to accidentally get one pregnant from someone else's sperm?

Also, imagine asking your spouse to watch the children while you and your friends eat and your partner refuses because they fear that they may "violently" harm them. Would it be frustrating if you were constantly criticized for not putting the salt back in the “right” place on the table, where S and P are perfectly coordinated? What if your spouse got you late to your daughter's concert because they walked over a pothole and had to circling the block multiple times to make sure they actually didn't run over a small child? This is a small selection of some of the additional problems people who are married to someone with OCD experience have. Making a Marriage The work is already difficult, and adding OCD into the mix only makes things worse.

It's even harder when you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Not only is it difficult to be married to someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder, but can you imagine how difficult it would be for the person diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder to marry? This person may have struggled with OCD for several years and is now taking on the added stressors of marriage. The OCD sufferer is now having to deal with someone leaving contaminated fingerprints all over their home, removing items from their proper place, criticizing them for refusing to take out the trash (which could be covered with the Ebola virus), or even accused of ruining all of their friendships. Of course, we all have basic problems that require work, but if your spouse has obsessive-compulsive disorder, not only does that person have these basic problems, but obsessions and stress compulsions pass as well.

Understand your partner with OCD

What can you do if you are married to someone who has obsessive-compulsive disorder? Try to put yourself in your spouse's position as much as possible. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder do not make compulsions because they want to, but because they are afraid of what will happen if they don't. The compulsions are often misguided attempts to keep loved ones (like you) from harm. The more empathic you are with this struggle, the better you can show compassion, communicate efficiently, and show that you really care. Focus on your partner's positive traits and praise any attempt to resist obsessive-compulsive disorder. Don't scold, criticize, or participate in their obsessive-compulsive disorder (whenever possible).

If you are feeling completely lost, a good first step is to learn more about the disorder. Read some good books on obsessive-compulsive disorder or join the International OCD Foundation for support from other people who have been there. Cautiously encourage your partner to seek treatment and offer to go for therapy as well. If you are feeling frustrated by obsessive-compulsive disorder, ask yourself, “Am I going to let my spouse's rituals ruin our marriage, or will I find the strength to be supportive and compassionate so that we can have the marriage we have always wanted ? "This is not easy, and if your spouse has obsessive-compulsive disorder, you may need your own supportive therapist to deal with the situation.

If your spouse is being treated for OCD, it may be helpful to join in and have a family meeting about the problem. Unfortunately, little research has focused on how obsessive-compulsive disorder affects those affected, especially their spouses. More work is needed to provide information that will be most helpful to therapists serving couples who have difficulty with this disability.


Calvocoressi. L., Lewis. B., Harris. M., Trufan. S. J., Goodman. W. K., McDougle. C. J. & Price. L. H. (1995). Family accommodation for obsessive-compulsive disorder. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 152(3), 441-443.

D. S. Riggs, H. Hiss & E. B. Foa (1992). Marital Problems and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Treatment. Behavior therapy, 23(4), 585-597.

R. Shafran, J. Ralph & F. Tallis (1995). Obsessive-Compulsive Symptoms and the Family. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic 59(4), 472-479.