What to Do if Your Spouse Has Borderline Personality DisorderLiving with someone who has borderline personality disorder (BPD) can feel confusing and cause anxiety in your relationship. It often leads to rifts in personal relationships and even poses problems in maintaining employment, which can lead to further turbulence due to financial woes.

Understanding BPD will go a long way in determining whether your marriage can go the distance, and help you focus on whether you each have what it will take to last. If you’re leaning in the direction of ending your marriage but you’re still unsure, you may benefit from divorce planning. This tool helps you determine which issues are most important to you so that you can make decisions to help the process go more smoothly should you choose divorce in the end.

What are the signs of borderline personality disorder?

People with BPD come with a tsunami of emotions and few-to-no coping mechanisms. Because it’s a form of mental illness, which comes with stigma, people with BPD may be reticent to admit they need help. This makes it even more difficult for them to maintain intimate relationships such as a marriage. The ups and downs can be severe and last for days on end, which can leave a stable partner feeling chaotic and hopeless. Those who are in these relationships know all too well what they experience when their partner or spouse begins an episode and know that riding the wave gets more exhausting with each one.

Symptoms of BPD can include:

  • Irrationality that causes feelings to become hurt for reasons apparent only to the spouse with BPD.
  • Intense, unstable relationships that range from extremely loving to completely abandoning a marriage out of a fear of abandonment. They choose to leave before they get left, even if that’s not what their spouse has in mind.
  • Having feelings of being bad and worthless.
  • Risky or impulsive behavior such as drug abuse, unsafe sex, reckless spending, or gambling.
  • Emotionally unstable ranging from anger to anxiety and depression.
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts that coincide with frequent self-harm or accidents.
  • Experiencing paranoia or loss of reality brought on by stress.
  • Having a lack of direction and constantly changing goals.

Can a marriage survive borderline personality disorder?

Outsiders may not understand why anyone would remain in a marriage with someone who is diagnosed with BPD. Life is complicated and tough enough without adding to it the unpredictability of your partner’s behavior. The truth of the matter is that suffering from BPD doesn’t equate to being a bad person.

Often the spouse who is seemingly throwing a tantrum is incredibly caring, compassionate, and affectionate when they are not experiencing an episode. Their partner sees that side of them and typically wishes and hopes that there’s an answer to permanently flipping the light off on triggers that send their lives into a torrent.

Managing triggers can be the key to a successful marriage

Making an effort to understand what your BPD spouse is experiencing and where those feelings come from can help you to avoid triggering episodes. Triggers can be:

  • Relationship driven, where BPD can cause someone to react to events that make them feel negatively about the situation. An example could be one spouse planning a girls or guys night out with friends where the other spouse wouldn’t be invited. While it probably seems reasonable to you that your spouse wouldn’t be invited by default, it can cause feelings of rejection that set an emotional hurricane in motion.
  • Cognitive, when internal overanalyzing of feelings or words can cause a spiral. To you it may seem like your spouse has an overactive imagination or is being overly dramatic, but the reaction is based on a memory or image of past events and is very real to your spouse.

Successful management of triggers requires work by both you and your spouse with BPD. Communication during calmer moments after an outburst or event can be helpful in pinpointing what caused the feeling or thought that brought on the episode. Additionally, counseling for both of you and medication for the BPD affected spouse may offer further support in helping you both cope with this illness.

The compassionate Bethesda family law attorneys at McCabe Russell, P.A. understand that deciding to end your marriage is an emotional one. Even when you know it may be the right thing for you and your children, that doesn’t make it simple or easy. We are here to help support you while providing you with all of the information you need to choose the best path to bring you the peace your family deserves. Schedule your no-obligation consultation with a member of our legal team by calling 443-917-3347, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact form. We also maintain offices in Fulton, Columbia, and Rockville.