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When a loved-one has traits of Borderline Personality

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Why marriage counseling so often fail with Borderline Personality Disorder

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Over the years many members have tried to the marriage counseling route, hoping that they would see some progress in their relationship. From most reports, it often doesn't go well.

Why is this?

Marriage counseling is based on the premise that both individuals are willing to discuss the issues and that both are willing to make changes. Marriage counselors try to work on communication skills, which are often the root of the couples problems. With Borderline Personality Disorder they often miss the elephant in the room - the BPD sufferer's lack of social skills.

When one person has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) though, it's not easy to accept any blame. It's not easy to do any self evaluation. This are not "givens". These are issues that must be resolved before counseling can be affective. People with Borderline Personality Disorder don't have the skills to be consider others feelings as they are so often in self defense mode that they can't take their eyes off their own internal pain. They worry that we will say or do something that will set them off, creating more anger and more shame. They blame us for getting them mad, for making them lose it, for pushing them too hard. They don't have the skills to self regulate or soothe themselves, so they blame us to make themselves feel better. Working on communication skills isn't going to solve this.

Does this mean that MC is doomed to failure before it even starts? Not necessarily.

The first thing for couples is to each seek their own therapist - someone who practices DBT {dialectical behavioral therapy} is best so that each person can work on their own issues first, before they begin to delve into why the relationship is failing.

The second things is to find a skilled therapist who understands BPD and who knows how to work with couples, then you have a much better chance than with the average therapist. Do your homework first before scheduling an appointment. Don't be afraid to ask questions of the receptionist, or to request that the therapist call you ahead of time so that you can ask question.

Author: United for Now, Skip

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  1. This is a really insightful article.

  2. Timing is of the essence. It is better to start marriage counseling immediately after started individual therapy.

    Marriage counseling is a type of counseling whereby an arbitrator facilitates a reconciliation to help resolve a relationship crisis. However, timing is of essence when attending relationship counseling sessions, as the sooner couples attend relationship counseling sessions the greater are the chances of resolution.

    There is some inherent stigma attached to couples seeking the help from a marriage counselor. There are many reasons for this, but the most common being that couples often hope that the crsis will somehow disappear over time, or that the situation is not as yet bad enough to warrant the need for a marriage counselor. But these assuptions are the reasons why a divorce becomes immenant even though the relationship could have been salvaged. In the cases where couples assume that a relationship crisis will some how find resolution, research has shown to the contrary in that this behavior leads to pent up negative emotions such as anger and resentment, which only deepen as time goes by. This is usually because negative emotions tend to have a direct bearing on our perception of reality, so that even little annoyances serve as an antagonistic catalyst for further conflicts. Another reason for couples not wanting to attend a relationship counseling session is an attempt to hide the decline of a marital welfare from others. All these reasons are only indicatory of the fact that couples have no clear understanding of what marriage counseling is or how it can help. It is vital to emphasise again that the sooner a couple seek help from an experienced marriage counselor, the greater the chances of reconciliation and resolution.

  3. Help me please. I have been beaten for ove a year and have final her to stop that but now she is medicated and sleps all the time. Abilify, zanex, hydrocodone, topriomate, just to name a few. She is going to Dr. regularly and stil says the meanest most hurtful things and then acts like nothing ever happend. Says that her therapist says she cant dwell on the past. But the past repeats itself every week or so. I sooo want to hand in there and have done everythig possible but I am real loosing hope that this is ging o work. Been married jus over a year and she spent our frst aniversary in a manic state with her ex husband and son. Thougts, guidance? help

  4. My wife and I have been in MC now for 6 months. While I have gotten some things out of it, the most important is finding out that the real problem in my marriage is not me, but the fact that my W has BPD. To further complicate this, the MC has told me this in privacy, but he refuses to raise the issue with her. He is fearful that she will bolt out of therapy and not return. While I agree with him, I still feel that the downward spiral my marriage is in will continue until she starts to get this condition under control. So how do I/we tell her in such a way that she can get the help she needs. I am at the point where, with acknowledgement, I will gladly support her and stand beside her through her treatment? Without this, I have my exit plan in place. I have started doing detachment with love. I have put up with this for 25 years. She had me completely convinced that I was the cause of all that was wrong with our marriage. I would try to explain my thoughts and feelings and they were ignored or I was told I was wrong. My insanity was trying the same failed things over and over again and hoping for different results. I really want back that engaging, loving, playful person that used her charm to reel me in. Not the monster that I have lived with for the past 20 years.

    1. Wow, I wish I could contact the person who wrote this. This is the exact same life I have lived for the last year, I could have written this word for word. I'm wondering how six years later he made out.

  5. i have BPD and i have been married for 2 years. my husband and i are going to MC. i do not think that the problem is always the peron with BPD. i admit when im wrong. i think as i get more mentally well, he wants me seek. he even said that he doesnt know what to do with me being well now and getting treatment for it. what can a BPD person do to help the other person in the marriage?????

  6. Persons with BPD can most often have this trinity of BPD, Avoidant Personality Disorder traits and histrionic traits. This has led to histrionic cheating, Avoidance of feeling BPD shame and just ignoring all problems caused by the person with BPD. The Borderline does not avoid talking about the partners issues or perceived issues/problems/shortcomings and i find that by dwelling on their partners real or imagined flaws distracts attention from their own feelings of shame and things they might have done to the marriage or behaviors that they feel they can't control or hide. I have found that they avoid communication and rely more on arguing which is a level they can operate on emotionally. You cannot bring up, nor call the Borderline's actions into accountability because they get defensive to fend off feeling shame. This cycle is hard to break and it prohibits open communication on an adult level in the marriage. No oneis saying the partner does not have flaws too of course, not at all, but there is small use in addressing the partners issues first if BPD will sabotage or avoid the Borderline's improvement and inner growth. Both will need therapy. I have found that persons with BPD tend to lie, lie by ommission, conceal and distract in order to avoid uncovering things they may have done that they feel are shameful. You have to get past avoidance in order to speak as adults. Children lie about similar things that they feel can get them in trouble with someone they have accounatbility to. So, very often, you can find that the Borderline is resistant to accountability and, again, distracts everyone by focusing on what's wrong with their partner instead of looking inward and accepting the consequences of their actions. I am not saying that they lie about anything else except for shame-based events or deeds. The histrionic element, and really BPD by itself, can somehow result in shameful acts of betrayal and infidelity often enough, but not always of course. Nothing is absolute and there are exceptions and each person is unique. My BPD spouse had to take sevral polygraph tests in order to become truthful and reveal her infractions that hurt our marriage. When she unloaded all of that garbage, she felt brand new and "clean" again she says and does not want to go back to that life of betraying her family. It changed her life and reset her mind to a point that she felt she could actually stop betrayal behavior as she had a new point of reference in her life of becoming cleand and new. She wants to preserve this status as her betrayals were early in our marriage. They had to come out, in full, and leave nothing out. This was the only chance we had to mend and for her to not just keep adding acts fo betrayal to her running list. We had to account for the list and then burn it and say "this is no longer a part of you." And FINALLY, she is not so afraid to communicate because she does not have all these secrets. Some of her "shameful secrets" were not shameful at all in my opinion, so a lot can be how they perceive things. So from my experience, even if it takes a polygraph, expunge all lies, this can be so emancipating and an earnest Borderline (usually 35 years old or older) will not go backwards...even if going forward is a slow process. You must create an environment whee it is safe to communicate. What better environment when you have forced everything out into the light of day to be faced, dealth with and then forgiven and burned. Otherwise, that toxic sludge is really what has infected your marriage and keeps you mired in some kind of trench warfare. Good luck to all.

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  8. The science of wedding guidance is being analyzed in great details nowadays. Although some analysis research that wedding guidance is not as efficient as people think, that females seem to get more from it than men, and that it might not have a long-lasting impact on the married couple's wedding, we think that getting expert help before issues arrive at crucial level is valuable to a wedding.

  9. Borderline personality disorder is a condition in which people have long-term patterns of unstable or turbulent emotions, such as feelings about themselves and others. This causes tension and misunderstanding between couples. Great content!
    Transpersonal Counselling

  10. It always help me to read about BPD. Unfortuately I tend to read about it after my wife has had a major outbreak of BPD. As I ride the roller coaster, about the time I think things are great (and perhaps she's in control of her BPD), down we go again. Right now we are scheduled for another round of marriage counseling since she wants out of the marriage. About every 6 months, she erupts into a mood that shes unhappy and wants out. I try to remove the stress in her life and show her love, but she always thinks I giving/showing her love because I want something. She walked out of the last counselor after a few sessions when the tropic started to move towards how what she does impacts the marriage and happiness. When I went back to the counselor for another session without the wife (she didn't) want to go. The counselor advised I should think about getting out of the marriage and when I stated I was in it for the long run, she commended me for wanting to hang in. We are going to try a christian counselor now. My wife refuses to go to family counseling even through her two kids tried to committ suicide, use drugs, have been sexually abused and arrested as minors. Her sister has a bi-polar; her grandfather was a sexual abuser; her brother has had a drinking problem for 20years, her mom is co-depended. Wish me luck.

  11. My daughter has BPD. She's currently going through another round of self-pity, loathing, and hating her life. She is married for the second time and has already been in MC, now going back again. Unfortunately, the counselor they have seen seems to feel that everything wrong with the relationship is my daughter's fault because she has BPD. When she tries to speak out in session about the verbal abuse she gets from her husband (threatening to take the house from her, burn it down, take the dog away from her if she thinks about divorce), or how he really doesn't care how she feels (never wants to talk about it with her), the husband talks over her and plays the pity card as the long suffering spouse of a BPD. He plays to the counselor and makes her feel sorry for him, and once again, my daughter is the bad guy. Now, I know she's no angel, and she has done her share of threatening to harm herself or leave. But aren't counselors supposed to remain neutral? My daughter cannot get a fair hearing from any of the counselors she has sought out. It's like the minute they know you're BPD, that's it; they consider you a liar right off the bat.
    I'm beginning to wonder if she'll ever really get any serious help from the psychiatric community when all it seems they want to do it medicate away the issues.
    Fed Up in Rhode Island

  12. Dear Fed Up in Rhode Island,
    I would advise you to be there for your daughter. Make sure she knows of your unconditional love and support and leave no stone unturned! Find a Christian counselor who is solid. There are tons of counselors out there. Keep shopping and researching until you find the right one. I think you and your daughter won't be satisfied until you find a Christian counselor. Is there anyway you could be in some of the sessions?

  13. I wished I had known ... when I met my g/f she had 3 kids from two failed relationships. she would attack verbally and blame out of the blue and for the first 3 years I just took it not knowing what to say in return. The next the years things got worse as I just started to verbally respond to her in anger. All this time we 'recycled' the relationship after an argument. We recycled about every 2 weeks! Throughout our relationship she had other men calling her or she would call her ex-husband/boyfriend(s) , never letting go of the connections to them.

    I started talking to therapists myself and finally one advised that my partner may have bpd. Once I read about bpd I was thrilled to finally know what was going on with my g/f .
    I've still not been able to get her into treatment but I've learned to control my end of the relationship by simply not reacting to her anger or blaming. It's been hard but hopefully we'll get into treatment.

  14. Biggest deal is it is not officially a mental illness for court or insurance or any other purpose. It’s a personality disorder. Generally most of the State statutes down here say all things being equal, minor children shall reside with the mother. It’s called the “tender years presumption” I’m betting Canada is the same sort of nut crunching legal system.

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