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Author Topic: BPD BEHAVIORS: Why marriage counseling so often fails  (Read 35428 times)
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Gender: Female
Posts: 1929

« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2010, 08:23:05 PM »

When MC turns into he said, she said type of thing it really doesn't help much. It can add to the pain.

A more helpful approach is looking at only your own stuff and knowing what you want out of a marriage and watching the other to see if changes are made and if things get better over a peroid of time.

My MC said this the other day when my h was going on about how I don't go to the gym in the morning with him instead I walk the dogs and so on ,

"ifsogirl's hubby - you are spinning right now - you are like a dog chasing its tail until some point you will jump up your own a&& hole, we can never control another person, we can change our own stuff and decide if the other person is someone we even like to be around but we can't change our SO, so stop!"

But it is a great thing to have going on once you are strong enough and have good boundaries in place.

I think telling what happens makes it more real for the non and brings out things that are unhealthy to light.

I didn't really get how twisted my hubbys thoughts and accussations were until I started to talk about them. Even now I get teary eyed talking about the years of trauma we both went through.

Who I really am can never be lost, I choose to live in the moment, I choose to be happy


This board is intended for general questions about BPD and other personality disorders, trait definitions, and related therapies and diagnostics. Topics should be formatted as a question.

Please do not host topics related to the specific pwBPD in your life - those discussions should be hosted on an appropraite [L1] - [L4] board.

You will find indepth information provided by our senior members in our workshop board discussions (click here).

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Gender: Female
Posts: 645

« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2010, 09:49:44 PM »

I feel like the poster child for "MC with my BPD spouse."  He was diagnosed by the MC who was also his IC, with the lovely addition of strong narcissistic traits (NPD for all practical purposes). We have attended joint sessions for almost a year, with my H participating in individual sessions prior to the "us" part (and during MC as well).

So...bottom line for me?  Unless and until a person of ANY "type" or diagnosis actually recognizes the need and has the desire for change, all the counseling in the world isn't going to change a thang.  Our therapist is very well-versed in personality disorders and in fact, speaks at a local community college to people divorcing these types of individuals.  

How did MC work for those who did try it?

We attended weekly or bi-weekly joint sessions.  He would profess his desire to spend more time together, to work our way "back to each other", etc., and the therapist would give him suggestions on how to accomplish this.  

Every week, the target changed...

Right from the start, I expressed my basic needs ~ stop lying, stop vanishing and start taking initiative/responsibility for the state of the relationship.  Big list for what I was dealing with, huh?   lol

I liked that the T had a solid background from working with my H in individual counseling. They had also built a certain amount of trust, which is important to my H.

However; there WERE times that I felt like a 'third-wheel'...because she was HIS therapist, there were times when she would ask for permission (from him) to talk about certain topics (always granted).  This, and other little things, tended to make me feel like I was just not QUITE in the loop all the time.  But all in all, it worked well for us.

What went wrong?

It wasn't DBT, my BPD husband didn't have the desire for change and is currently incapable of taking personal responsibility for virtually *anything* that has ever happened in his life.  And I'm not being sarcastic.  

What went well?

I got the chance to be HEARD...finally.  I got validation that there was something *seriously wrong* in the situation...  I gained a LOT of clarity ~ simply from stating my needs (in order to move forward in our marriage), having them translated and clarified by the therapist to my husband, and her asking if he wanted to work on those things.  He would always answer "yes" or that he was willing to "give it a try," but I think there was some kind of poison on her door knob.  Every time he turned it to leave the office, the memory of his 'assignments' completely VANISHED.

Did/Is your SO going to any individual T sessions?

Yes.  Now and one other time during our year-long tenure of joint sessions, the therapist requested to see him "alone" for several sessions.  He is still seeing her alone.

I hung in there for WAY too long, not REALLY demanding change or establishing good boundaries.  I would continue to see my husband on our pre-arranged "date nights", attend counseling and speak with him on the phone when he felt like calling, but nothing really changed.  Because he didn't NEED to change anything ~ I was/am *still here*.  

Disclaimer:  Since he's vanished (again) over two weeks ago (no contact with me), I have made the decision to file for divorce by Memorial Day Weekend.  I'm really not doing him any favors by teaching him how to treat a wife so poorly.  I deserve better, and I wish that he could've stepped up.  But AGAIN, without any reason or desire for change, any *type* of person is fine with the status quo.


sometimes I wonder why the frisbee is getting bigger...and then it hits me

Remember...   Feelings = Facts to them....
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Gender: Female
Posts: 4821

« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2010, 11:07:36 PM »


"ifsogirl's hubby - you are spinning right now - you are like a dog chasing its tail until some point you will jump up your own a&& hole, we can never control another person, we can change our own stuff and decide if the other person is someone we even like to be around but we can't change our SO, so stop!"

Ya know...about 2 months ago I said almost the exact same thing to my husband.

did your T use that terminology?

It works both ways.
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Posts: 874

« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2010, 12:12:48 AM »

We did the couples counseling for all of four sessions.  We never even made it to my issues with the situation.  The first was backround, the second was her naming a lot of what she didn't like and me getting defensive, the third was her saying she didn't want me, she wanted her deceased husband back, and me getting defensive and very very visibly sad, the fourth was me coming in right off the bat and saying ok, I'll back off.  That was the only moment the therapist actually addressed where I was with the whole thing.  She took hold of it and encouraged me and kept noting that she hoped I was doing it for my own good.  I didn't understand what that meant then, I was too upset - but I do now.  Then we stepped outside after that fourth session and she broke down for three hours about how she didn't want it to be over, she just didn't know what she wanted.   I reassured her that I wasn't leaving, that I didn't want for it be over either, but that I was just respecting her wishes.  Two weeks later we were sleeping together again because she was 'happy the pressure was off.'  This pushed me into a tailspin of what the frizzle does that mean...which evidently was pressure.  We lingered but never recovered. 

When she gets mad now, she tells me she could never have a relationship with someone who she had to go to therapy with and reminds me she never had to go with the deceased.  I, probably wrongly, reminded her that he was never in a relationship with a widow and that that could possibly bring up some issues.  This was all long before I even knew of BPD. 

She is and has been in therapy for a long time, but it is all talk and, from what I've seen, just a huge weekly vent.  She literally flipped out when I suggested maybe we both go meet with her therapist...my therapist at the time opined it was because I've been blacklisted there and S has built up a safe place for herself through half truths.  I don't know if it's true or not.  I do know that I seem to be the bad guy wherever 'we' go though, including couples counseling, so I would not be surprised. 

It's so odd to think back to where I was at that time.  How totally messed up I was mentally after three months of seeing and hearing things that made no sense.  How that therapist zoned straight in on S like I was a bystander, and how I let that happen.  I was so scared to lose her I couldn't even speak up for myself until absolutely forced to.  And that dynamic just persisted for months.  Really messed up stuff.  I don't think either of us were really ready for change at that moment.  We wanted the other to change, but not prepared to step up ourselves and be vulnerable by trying new things.  Then again, the capacity to be vulnerable in these relationships seems to be hard to maintain so maybe I'm being too hard on both of us...

Our integrity sells for so little, but it is all we really have.  It is the very last inch of us.  And within that inch, we are free. - Valerie's Letter

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Posts: 190

« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2010, 05:25:28 AM »

Because marriage counseling is based on the premise that both individuals are willing to discuss the issues and that both are willing to make changes. When one person has BPD though, they aren't able to accept any blame. They aren't able to do any self evaluation. They don't have the skills to be compassionate or offer empathy, since they are so often in self defense mode that they can't take their eyes off their own internal pain. When a MC tries to work on communication skills, which they believe to be at the root of the couples problems, they miss the elephant in the room - the BPD sufferer's inability to accept any blame or responsibility. If the pwBPD can't see the need for change or accept their part in things, then how will change occur? It won't. It can't.

The pwBPD has so much shame and self hatred at their core...

United... I sit and stare at this paragraph, realizing the truth contained within. Your words are direct and accurate. Contemplating how this description applies to my thirty year realtionship is both revealing and devastating. I have wasted alot of time trying to get a duck to sing, haven't I?

The last year has brought so much clarity. You have helped me understand how I need to change and alter my expectations.

The paragraph above could (should) be copied and placed somewhere for a constant reminder. Tragically though, our SO's would probably find it and tear the house down defending themselves.. haha

Thanks for the insight!

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Gender: Female
Posts: 1785

« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2010, 08:05:56 AM »

DH and I attended 3 sessions of MC (with a pastoral counselor) about 8 or 9 years ago, before I realized he suffers from BPD.  I did much of the talking, and crying, and DH mumbled a few words on occasion.  It was a struggle to get him to go, in fact, 2 sessions were cancelled last minute because he flipped out and refused to go.  We completed some personality testing that didn't seem very helpful.  I talked about my FOO a bit.  We didn't really get anywhere and then DH decided that we were wasting money (he told the pastor we would pay the highest amount on the sliding scale, just because he did not want to disclose our income) and it wasn't helping.

Looking back, I can see that DH had no desire to become a better person, just to pacify me so that I wouldn't leave.  I had made an appointment with an attorney (and cancelled it) not long before our 7th anniversary and made the blunder of admitting it, in tears, during our anniversary dinner (at home, fortunately).  Anyone wanna guess how that ended?

DH is not in T.  He is without a job and while he is on my insurance now, does not wish to spend money that is not "necessary."  Not sure that he's met himself. rolleyes

Good thread!


"Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?"  is. 43:19
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Gender: Female
Posts: 63

« Reply #16 on: April 13, 2010, 08:22:55 AM »

We did counseling and I thought it was working until we stopped going.

Every time we went he would claim he had a better understanding of the communication issues we had and why I felt the way I did, yet he never really put any of the things we learned into play in our real life. It seems he is so busy being hooked on the fact that he believes I suffer from BPD that he cannot take a look at himself to realize that it may be an issue he needs to recognize within himself as well. Is this normal? It confuses me because he is busy putting up what he feels are boundaries, and because I simply don't wish to argue anymore, I comply and "shut up" in an attempt to have a peaceful relationship because I cannot argue with his circular logic. That makes him feel that it really is me with the probem because now he has put up boundaries, and things have gotten better. I feel that things will never change if we continue this way and I don't know what to do about it except keep doing what I'm doing just to keep the peace. But is keeping the peace enough? I am truly unhappy.
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Posts: 63

« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2010, 09:26:54 AM »

That makes him feel that it really is me with the probem because now he has put up boundaries, and things have gotten better. I

And this is a bad thing...? [/quote]
Well, it is only a bad thing because the reason things have gotten better is because I have simply given up...and I ignore much of what "bothers" me and hurts me in an attempt to stop the arguments that spin out of control. So nothing is truly fixed or better, except for the fact that we don't argue as much. It doesn't mean I am happy with the way things are. My needs have again taken a back burner just so the house is quiet and the arguments aren't so brutal.

I am sure I'm doing it wrong, but it's all I have the strength for lately.
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Gender: Male
Posts: 382

« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2010, 10:25:28 AM »

Gee, the experience we had with mc was really positive...I mean it was hard because we touched on really sensitive areas, yet it was a very positive experience for me. I learned a great deal on how my behavior contributed to much of our discord, it actually "fed" the dance. I would say that it was even better than this forum has been for me, and that's saying ALOT!

We haven't gone for sumtime, and frankly I think it's time I suggest we do again. If I'm perfectly honest about it tho, it's not merely because our lives are so busy, as much as m/c was hard work for me. I mean, I need to change how I do things and behave...often we had to "active listen" to one another, and that was like HARD WORK...even tho it was very productive.

I think with any mc regardless of what exactly the issues are, change and work required from both individuals...my guess is that's why often it doesn't seem to work...because one is unwilling, or feeling they don't require any change. I don't see how with proper mc, some benefit couldn't arise however, since even if the BPD refuses to change, the non learns how to change for themselves and ultimately for the relationship.

With the right mc, the only way it couldn't help is if BOTH refuse to change. That's my feeling at least.

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Posts: 5

« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2010, 10:42:50 AM »

I am in T for myself and all that I have to go through with my BDPW.  My T asks how much longer will I be able to put up with the exploitation and the emotional ride.  T when asked for solutions or tools gave honest opinion to run.  Not sure why she said that and wasn't that comfortable with it.  She said that from the very beginning.  My BDPW denies she has any issues and it is all me.  She says I am that her and her kids are walking on eggshells around (exaggerating the kids part to support her BDP).  I have MC tonight with BDPW and I am not sure how this one will turn out.  This MC is different from the one I went with last night and I cannot tell my BPDW that I am still seeing my own T which we started seeing together or she will interrogate me and make me feel like bad. 

Funny thing is what was stated with the original T about our situation is reversed by the new T which my BDPW chose.  That is the story of my life...everything is upside down or backwards. 

I have to account for everything I before BPDW separated due to her insecurities which she stated at T that she has issues with.  Now since we are separated, there is no insecurity she claims and never have been any.  So why would she ask me last night to account for the 2 1/2 hours between getting off work and when she saw me when driving by my house on her way to the store? 

Her negativity and the way she asks questions as if something was already done wrong to her is killing our relationship.  I am working on not being so defensive, but when the questions put you on the spot as if you were already found guilty is hard to respond to in a kind manner.  This especially after years of interrogations and nothing bad being done to her by me.  There is no infidelity or interest in any other person than W.  When are the line of questioning going to cease - never she says and I have to be able to answer her QUESTIONS at all times no matter how 'insignificant' they are.  What a life!

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