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July 17, 2012 at 2:47 pm #3169desperatewifeMember
I am desperate to help my husband and save our family. My husband suffers from OCD. He knows that he has OCD but does not understand the impact is has on our family. His issues (that I am aware of) are checking (he often blinks repeatedly and taps items repeatedly when doing this), straightening, and order. As a result he is VERY controlling and almost unbearable to live with. He forbids or prevents us from doing things, redoes everything we do, or makes it miserable if we do something he doesn’t want us to do. Examples are as follows: he will not let me enter certain rooms/places in our house (he put a lock on the basement door and won’t give me a key; he also taped off one of our staircases so that no one can use it), open certain curtains, water our flowers, make our bed, put away groceries, pay bills, etc. He has to be the last one out of each room and he closes the door and “checks it for several minutes”. If we enter a room after him, he will go back in after us to “check” the room leaving us waiting for 5-15 minutes. If I put something away, he will take it out and redo it and tell me that I didn’t do it correctly. He is usually somewhat subtle about it and says “I’ll do xyz for you…” but he can become irate if that doesn’t work. For example, he doesn’t like people to start a bath or shower (he has to “set it up right”). On the advice of my therapist (I need help coping with his OCD) I started my son’s bath myself. He came in and turned the water off and glared at me. I turned it on again, he turned it off and then went downstairs and shut the water off to the entire house. HELP!
I almost left once, but he agreed to go on medication. That lasted one month and he stopped because “he can handle it on his own” (the therapist said that she thinks he has moderate to severe OCD). I love my husband and know he is a good person. However, I am worried that the situation is hopeless! Any suggestions/feedback would be greatly appreciated!!July 18, 2012 at 6:09 am #3240Dr. Michael JenikeMember
This sounds like a terrible situation. it is his OCD but he is trying to get his family to participate. this is a VERY destructive way to handle OCD and obviously will lead to misery in everyone. one approach might be for the two of you to see a couples or family therapist to impress on him how you cannot live like this. he can get treatment but obviously he has to be willing to do the work. there is the annual OC Foundation annual meeting in Chicago next week. it would be great if you and he could get to that to learn about OCD in more detail. go to http://www.ocfoundation.org for more information. at this web site, there is a lot of information on OCD. there are also a few good books on OCD that are written for family members. you could go to amazon.com and locate them. i know Herb Gravitz PhD has one that has been around a while. your husband is going to have to accept that you are not going to participate in his rituals. if he gets everything he wants, his OCD will likely continue and even worsen. as you probably know, the two effective treatments are cognitive behavior therapy and specific medications. a month trial of medication is not enough. at the above web site, you can also locate OCD specialists nearby in the section under Treatment Providers. all best wishes,
Michael Jenike, MDJuly 19, 2012 at 7:09 am #3241desperatewifeMember
Thank you very much for the feedback, Dr. Jenike! I already looked into some of the resources you offered and I ordered Herb Gravitz book. I feel so isolated and helpless. It is a vicious cycle; I get so frustrated but then I feel guilty and feel sorry for him because I know he has an illness. I am excited to read the book and hope it helps!
I have one last question. Is it normal for people suffering from OCD to deny that their issues are as severe as they are? Or, are they aware of their issues but too embarrassed to admit it. I worry that if he doesn't really see it he will never agree to get help (he will not go to couples therapy either, I've tried many times).
Thank you for your help!July 20, 2012 at 7:37 am #3242Dr. Michael JenikeMember
i would not say it is “normal” to deny the severity of symptoms, but it is not uncommon. you need to let him know that even though he is not distressed that much, that it is causing huge problems for your family. you may have to put pressure on him. some people will not budge as long as things are going as they wish. if he thinks he might lose you, he may be more serious about how you feel. if he will not see a therapist, you should go and strategize about what you can do to get his attention. good luck,
Michael Jenike, MD
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