If you have a partner with OCD, you know how difficult it can be to help and support them. OCD can be a very isolating disorder, and your partner may feel like they are the only one who is struggling. It is important to remember that you are not alone in this. There are many ways that you can help your partner, and we will discuss some of them in this blog post.
What Is OCD?
OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is a mental disorder that is characterized by intrusive and unwanted thoughts (obsessions) that lead to repetitive behaviors (compulsions).
People with OCD often feel compelled to perform certain rituals or routines in order to try to prevent or reduce anxiety. These rituals can be time-consuming and interfere with daily life.
What Are The Risk Factors?
Your partner may be suffering from OCD due to the following factors:
If your partner has a family member who suffers from OCD, they may be more likely to develop the condition themselves. For example, studies have shown that if one identical twin has OCD, the other has a 70% chance of also developing the condition.
Other research suggests that certain genes may make people more susceptible to developing OCD. For example, variations in the serotonin transporter gene have been linked to an increased risk of OCD.
There are many different environmental factors that may lead your partner to OCD. For example, if they grew up in a household where there was a lot of chaos or violence, this can trigger OCD symptoms. Or, if they experienced a traumatic event, such as a car accident or the death of a loved one, this can also cause them to develop OCD.
Other environmental factors that can contribute to OCD include having parents who are overly critical or perfectionistic, living in an unpredictable or chaotic environment, and being exposed to stressful life events (such as divorce or job loss).
Changes in the brain’s chemistry or structure may contribute to OCD.
There are many potential causes of OCD, but the most likely culprit is neurobiological factors. Serotonin and dopamine are two important neurotransmitters that play a role in OCD. Serotonin regulates mood, sleep, appetite, and memory, while dopamine is involved in the pleasure and reward centers of the brain.
Imbalances in these neurotransmitters can lead to OCD symptoms. For example, if there is not enough serotonin available, your partner may become anxious or depressed.
What Are The Consequences?
The problem of OCD in one of the mates affects both partners in a relationship. Moreover, the bond in their relationship starts getting weakened. The mental disorder may affect:
Partner suffering from OCD
When one spouse suffers from OCD, it can have a profound effect on the other partner. He/she may have to go through the following consequences:
- feeling powerless and helpless
- feeling guilty
- being constantly criticized
- having to live in a state of constant vigilance
- feeling like they are walking on eggshells all the time.
- being left out or excluded
Partner helping the other with OCD
OCD in one partner may affect the other mate in the following ways:
- becoming more withdrawn and isolating him/herself.
- eating habits may change and he/she may become either underweight or overweight.
- difficulty concentrating or focusing on anything else other than the partner’s obsessions and compulsions.
- disturbances in sleeping patterns as he/she struggles to fall asleep or stay asleep.
- suffering from low self-esteem and feeling worthless and hopeless.
Besides, your relationship may suffer through the following adverse results:
Constant arguments and disagreements
You may find that your relationship is full of arguments and disagreements. This is because OCD can cause a person to become fixated on certain ideas or behaviors, and they may feel that their partner is not meeting their standards.
For example, a person with OCD may insist on having the house clean at all times, and they may get angry if their partner does not clean to their satisfaction. Or, a person with OCD may be afraid of germs, and they may constantly wash their hands or avoid touching things that they believe are contaminated. This can make it difficult for their partner to do simple things like hugging them or holding their hand.
Resentment and bitterness towards each other
If you are in a relationship with someone who suffers from OCD, you may feel like you are walking on eggshells. You may feel like you can never do anything right, and that your partner is constantly nitpicking at everything you do.
This can lead to a feeling of resentment and bitterness towards each other. For example, your partner may constantly criticize the way you load the dishwasher, and this can make you feel like your partner is never satisfied with anything you do.
A breakdown in communication
There are many ways in which a partner’s OCD can result in a communication breakdown. One of the most common is when one partner repeatedly asks the other for reassurance about something, and the other partner finds themselves getting exasperated and fed up with having to constantly reassure their loved one. This can lead to a sudden breakdown in communication.
Another way OCD can cause communication difficulties is when one partner withdraws into their own world and stops sharing things with the other person. This can be due to feeling ashamed or embarrassed about their symptoms, or simply because they’re so focused on their obsessions and compulsions that they don’t have any energy left for anything else. This can leave the other person feeling isolated, neglected, and unimportant which results in a further breakdown in communication.
A feeling of distance or disconnection from each other
The partner with OCD often withdraws from social activities and contact with friends, family, and work colleagues. This withdrawal can be due to embarrassment about the symptoms of OCD, or because the person is feeling so overwhelmed by their obsessions and compulsions that they find it difficult to focus on anything else. As a result, the partner without OCD can feel isolated, lonely, and unsupported.
Additionally, the partner with OCD may start to resent their loved one for not understanding what they are going through. The partner without OCD may try to help in ways that are well-meaning but ultimately unhelpful, such as telling them to just stop worrying or to snap out of it. These comments can make the partner with OCD feel misunderstood and unsupported, exacerbating the feeling of distance between them.
Lack of intimacy
Intimacy in a relationship is not just about sex; it’s about closeness, connection, and feeling safe with someone. When you’re in a relationship with someone who has OCD, that sense of intimacy can be challenged.
OCD can cause a person to doubt themselves and their relationship constantly. They may worry that they’re not good enough for their partner or that their partner will leave them because of their disorder. This can lead to them pushing their partner away or avoiding any type of close physical contact.
Some people with OCD might also have contamination fears which can make them reluctant to engage in any kind of intimate activity, whether that’s sex, kissing, or even just cuddling.
One example includes a partner with OCD who is fixated on cleanliness to the point where they are constantly washing their hands or showering. This can make intimacy difficult because the person with OCD may feel uncomfortable being touched and may avoid physical contact altogether. These are just a few examples of how OCD can impact intimacy, but there are many more ways that it can do so.
Insufficient time spent together because of avoidance behaviors
If your partner has OCD, you might find that they are spending less and less time with you. This is because their OCD may be causing them to avoid certain situations or activities that trigger their obsessions or compulsions.
For example, if your partner is afraid of germs, they may avoid going out in public places or touching people. If they are obsessed with symmetry, they may spend hours arranging objects in your home just so. While it can be frustrating to see your partner withdrawing from you,
How Can Therapies Help?
There are many different types of therapy that may help your partner with OCD. Some common ones include:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective treatment for OCD. It helps people to identify and change their thinking patterns and behaviors that contribute to their OCD.
The therapist will make your partner aware of the thoughts and behaviors that are causing their OCD. They will then work with them to challenge these thoughts and develop new, more realistic perspectives.
This process can be difficult and may require some time and effort, but it is often very effective in helping people with OCD to overcome their symptoms. If you are supporting your partner through CBT, it is important to be patient and understand that the process may be challenging for them. Try to provide encouragement and support throughout the process.
Exposure And Response Prevention (ERP)
ERP is an effective treatment for OCD that involves helping people face their fears and learn to refrain from engaging in compulsive behaviors. It can be challenging, but it is often successful in helping people with OCD manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
ERP involves exposing yourself to situations that trigger your OCD symptoms, such as touching a doorknob or shaking hands with someone, and then choosing not to respond with your usual compulsions. This helps your partner with OCD to challenge their beliefs and learn that they can handle uncomfortable situations without needing to engage in compulsions.
Acceptance And Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, also known as ACT, is a type of behavioral therapy that helps people manage their mental health by accepting difficult thoughts and feelings without judgment. This approach can be especially helpful for people with OCD, who often struggle with negative thoughts and emotions.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy uses various types of techniques and one common technique is called mindfulness. Mindfulness involves paying attention to your thoughts and feelings in the present moment without judgment. This can help you to become more aware of your OCD symptoms and learn to accept them.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
DBT works by helping people understand and accept both the positive and negative aspects of their lives. It also teaches skills for managing difficult emotions and situations. People who receive DBT typically participate in weekly individual therapy sessions and skills training groups.
If your partner has OCD, DBT can help them learn to manage their obsessions and compulsions, as well as any related anxiety or depression. With the help of a therapist, they can develop a better understanding of their thoughts and feelings, and learn how to respond to them in more helpful ways. DBT can also help improve communication and conflict-resolution skills, which can be beneficial for both you and your partner.
Psychodynamic therapy is one of the most effective ways to help your partner with OCD. This type of therapy focuses on helping the individual understand their innermost thoughts and feelings, which can be a major trigger for OCD behaviors.
For example, if your partner is constantly fixated on contamination fears, psychodynamic therapy can help them understand why these fears are so strong. In many cases, it can be traced back to early childhood experiences or traumas that have never been addressed. Once your partner understands the root cause of their OCD, they can begin to work through those issues and start to let go of their obsessive thoughts and behaviors.
The therapist will work with your partner to help them understand their thoughts and feelings, and how they can manage them in a more positive way. This type of therapy can be very effective in helping your partner overcome OCD.
Art Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art media as its primary mode of expression and communication. The therapist will help the client to explore their thoughts, feelings, and emotions through different art activities such as painting, drawing, sculpture, and collage.
Art therapy can be an effective treatment for OCD because it allows the client to express their innermost thoughts and feelings in a safe and non-judgmental environment. It can also help to increase self-awareness and understanding of one’s own mental health condition. In addition, art therapy can help to improve communication skills and build trust between the therapist and the client.
All these therapies have different techniques to help people with OCD manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Tips For Taking Caring Your Partner
The most important thing you can do to help your spouse recover from OCD is to be supportive and understanding. Showing patience and encouragement goes a long way in helping your partner with OCD. Doing this will make them feel better about themselves and their condition. Some more tips in this regard are:
Be a team player
Treatment for OCD usually involves some form of exposure and response prevention (ERP), which is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy. This means that your spouse will be asked to confront their fears head-on in order to desensitize themselves to them. As their partner, you can play an important role in helping them carry out their exposures by being supportive and helping to keep them on track.
Encourage healthy habits
Eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly are all important for helping to manage OCD symptoms. As such, it’s important to help your partner with OCD to stick to healthy habits. This may involve helping them to meal plan or providing transportation to and from the gym.
Create a support network
In addition to you, there are other people who can offer support and understanding, such as friends, family members, and therapists. Helping your spouse to build up a strong support system can be vital in their recovery.
Connect with your spouse
OCD can be very isolating, both for the sufferer and their loved ones. As such, it’s important to make an effort to connect with your spouse in spite of their condition. This may involve finding common interests or hobbies that you can enjoy together or simply taking the time to talk about things other than OCD.
Spend the most time with them
Spending quality time together is an important part of any relationship, but it can be even more crucial for your partner with OCD. This condition can put a lot of strain on a relationship, so it’s important to make time for each other and focus on the positive aspects of your life together.
Respect their boundaries
It’s important to remember that everyone is different and that each person with OCD will have their own unique set of symptoms and triggers. As such, it’s important to respect your partner’s boundaries and not push them to do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.
Make them feel secure
One of the most important things you can do for your partner is to make them feel loved and accepted, regardless of their OCD. This can be a difficult task, but it’s crucial for helping them to feel secure in the relationship and giving them the strength to face their condition head-on. This can include things like telling them you love them, helping them to feel included in decision-making, and not making them feel like a burden.
Encourage them to follow their passion
Finally, it’s important to encourage your partner to follow their passion, whatever that may be. For some people with OCD, their condition can consume their life and leave them feeling lost. Pursuing their interests and goals can help them to feel more fulfilled and give them something to focus on outside of their obsessions and compulsions.
Self Care Tips
You must also take care of yourself because it is difficult to be constantly helping your partner with OCD. Setting boundaries is important, and so is maintaining one’s own emotional stability. If a person becomes too invested in their partner’s mental health, it can start to take a toll. It’s okay to need a break. Some tips in this regard include:
- Taking time for yourself: Make sure to schedule some “you” time into your week. This can be used for anything from reading, going for a walk, or taking a yoga class.
- Talking to someone else: It can be helpful to talk to another person about what you’re going through. This could be a friend, therapist, or even a support group specifically for people helping loved ones with OCD.
- Spending time in the fresh air: Sometimes getting out of the house and into nature can help clear your head. You can be able to take some deep breaths and relax your mind.
- Eating healthy and exercising: Taking care of your body will also help take care of your mind. Make sure to eat nutritious meals and get some movement into your day, even if it’s just a brisk walk around the block.
- Finding some humor in the situation: One of the best ways to deal with stress is to laugh it off. If you can find some humor in the situation, it will help lighten the mood and give you a much-needed break from all the seriousness. Laughter is truly the best medicine. For example, you could watch a funny movie together or tell each other jokes.
By following these tips, you can make sure that you’re taking care of yourself while also helping your partner.
Helping a partner with OCD can be difficult, but it is possible. It requires patience, love, and understanding. There are many people who understand what you are going through and can offer support. Seek out these people when you need them and let them help you through this difficult time.
Help your partner by being understanding, patient, and loving. They are your best ally in this battle. Stand by them and support them through their recovery. They will need you now more than ever. Get the remedy as soon as possible and begin a new life with your partner, helping them every step of the way. This is just the beginning of a long and difficult journey, but it is one that you can make together. With love and support, anything is possible.
Professional Guidance is the first step to moving toward your healing journey. You can try reaching Therapy Mantra to seek expert help in the comfort of your own home. Our therapists will help you get a solution to manage and overcome your problem. You can book your online therapy and talk directly to your assigned mentor. You may also download our free OCD treatment app on Android or iOS.