Are you in a relationship that’s sucking the life out of you and killing your spirit? Do you feel stuck in this relationship because of your kids or because of money? Maybe you are afraid of being by yourself or because your spouse has crushed your self-esteem and let you believe that you can’t do better?
Have you questioned yourself a million times if there’s something wrong with you? Or perhaps it is your spouse? Is it really incompatibility or is there something more? Are all relationships so hard?
Have you heard of personality disorders? Borderline, narcissistic, antisocial to name a few. Personality disorders fall under the mental health category and as a psychologist and therapist, I am committed to raising awareness and being a mental health advocate.
But I am also a relationship therapist, which means I’m an advocate for both people, not just one. So what happens when one spouse suffers from an untreated personality disorder and doesn’t want to do anything about it?
The answer: the other spouse will eventually start feeling symptoms of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, despair, and being stuck with no way out.
It is very hard to differentiate between a mental health disorder and one’s personality, especially when the personality is a cluster of traits that are unhealthy and unproductive. It’s very hard when you are in a fishbowl with your spouse, and you don’t know if his or her reactions, attitudes, choices, mannerisms are normal, and you don’t want to share that with friends or family out of fear of being judged or questioned even more. Because of this, many suffer silently.
This blog post series is about bringing awareness to personality disorders from the other partner’s perspective. It will not sound positive toward the spouse that’s showing these personality traits. I’m promoting awareness for mental health conditions, but I’m also promoting healthy and protective boundaries for the partner that feels stuck.
As a society, we’ve made lots of progress toward decreasing the stigma around mental health, but one of the unintended consequences is the tendency to use a mental health condition as an excuse. “You wouldn’t ask someone with a broken foot to run.” That’s the typical comparison to the physical disabilities.
I’m tired of people judging and asking partners of individuals with a mental health condition to always be the caretaker and the responsibility holder all the time, especially if the other spouse DOESN’T WANT TO PARTICIPATE in getting better.
Yes, I’m fully aware that conditions like depression and ADHD impact the level of motivation, but it’s not fair to cite “mental health” as a reason for not doing anything about it, and expect the “healthy” partner to do everything and still be happy and fulfilled in this relationship. What happens when they get sick, and worn-out, and depressed? (and it will happen). Can they quote mental health reasons for wanting to leave the relationship so they don’t lose their mind?
In this blog post series, we will talk about different types of personalities, especially the really difficult ones that create a lot of problems. Individuals with these types of personalities are everywhere, not only at home. They are our family members, friends, and co-workers. They can often create problems for everyone around them because they are not aware of how they come across and if you tell them, they will have a strong and unpleasant reaction that will attempt to stop you in your tracks.
If you feel like this post is speaking right to you, then I encourage you to stick around for the whole series AND go to my free Marriage and Relationship Resource Center. Take advantage of the valuable lessons and guides I’ve put together that will help you to gain the clarity and the knowledge to navigate your relationship. If you have any questions along the way, please reach out by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (623) 628-0406.
ABOUT: Dr. Ruxandra LeMay is a private practice psychologist in Litchfield Park, Arizona with experience in family therapy, ADHD, stress and anxiety management, and executive coaching. She is the author of My Spouse Wants More Sex Than Me: The 2-Minute Solution For a Happier Marriage. Click HERE to check out her free resources on effective communication, emotional unavailability, intimacy, and anxiety management or join her at www.ruxandralemay.com for monthly blog posts.