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10 Big Signs You're Married To Someone With A Personality Disorder

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Couple looking at each other

It is hard to remember a time when the marriage was tranquil. Rather, each year brings more drama, intensity, frustration, distance, and hostility. Efforts to improve the situation are temporary and shallow at best. There is something else happening other than poor communication skills. It might just be that one spouse has a personality disorder.

There are several types of personality disorders (PD): paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, antisocial, borderline, histrionic, narcissistic, avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive. Each has its own flare of ego-centered behavior, inflexibility, distortion, and impulse control In multiple environments beginning in adolescence.

Even though the PD existed during dating, it did not become apparent until marriage.

Here are 10 signs of personality disorders in marriage:

1. The spouse feels like they are losing their mind

Often, they can’t make sense of or effectively communicate what is happening in the marriage. The PD has convinced the spouse that they are the problem with a laundry list of faults, failures, and fears. The spouse develops anxiety, appears distressed, is discouraged, and is even depressed.

2. There is a version of self that the PD has with friends and another one at home

While the disorder is pervasive (in every environment), it usually takes on a distinctive flare for different people. If the PD wants to impress someone, they are amazingly “on.” But once they become comfortable, the mask is removed and they are contrary.

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3. The spouse feels like they are walking on eggshells

As a result, the spouse becomes good at reading the PD to see what kind of night it is going to be. After a while, the spouse begins to enjoy when the PD is not at home because the atmosphere is lighter and less stressful.

4. The PD is resistant to change

PDs will talk about change, but what they really mean is that the spouse needs to change to accommodate them. However, the PD doesn’t want the spouse to get psychologically healthy; that might cause them to leave. Rather, the PD tries to mold the spouse into a more subordinate and subservient position so they have more influence to control.

5. Couples therapy isn't working

Traditional couples therapy or seminars have little lasting effect on the PD. Most PDs are very good at veering their attention toward their wants and desires while persecuting their spouse. Individual therapy for both, which addresses personality issues and incorporates new boundaries, can be quite effective when both parties want to preserve the marriage.

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6. For the spouse, there is a continual feeling that they are being lied to by the PD

While it may not be very evident, there is a pattern of futile exaggerations, avoidance of sensitive subjects, and omission of key information. Interestingly, the PD often projects these behaviors onto the spouse in an effort to divert the negative attention away from them.

7. The truth is constantly twisted by the PD’s distortion of reality

In order to get some compliance out of a spouse, the PD often resorts to some type of abusive and manipulative behavior. Typical ones include verbal assaults, isolating from friends and family, gaslighting, intimidation, sexual coercion, dichotomous thinking, and withholding of money.

8. The PD refuses to accept responsibility

If spoken at all, the words “I’m sorry” are usually followed by a qualifier like “but you...” There is no real acceptance of responsibility or accountability. It is always the spouse’s fault at some level. Even when a third party points out an issue, that person becomes the latest target for the PD.

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9. The amount of stress generated in the home is completely unnecessary

Yet, the PD seems to thrive in such environments. When there is little chaos, they tend to create something out of nothing just to complain about it. There is no lasting satisfaction. Temporary peace is achieved only when the PD gets its way.

10. It’s all about them

It is about how they feel, what they think, and why they do what they do. The only time the conversation turns towards the spouse is to accuse or cast blame. Their emotions, thoughts, actions, and perceptions are always right. This results in a superior attitude which makes true intimacy impossible.

This is not a marriage, it is an inequitable partnership.

The PD may say they want a healthy marriage, but their actions frequently create an unsafe environment for the spouse to be transparent. This can be resolved in a more balanced manner but it requires significant effort and commitment from both.

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Christine Hammond, LMHC, NCC is a leading mental health influencer, author, and guest speaker. She is the award-winning author of The Exhausted Woman's Handbook.

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This article was originally published at Psych Central. Reprinted with permission from the author.