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THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PERSONALITY DISORDERS
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Author Topic: BPD BEHAVIORS: Why marriage counseling so often fails  (Read 31677 times)
UKannie
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« Reply #70 on: January 16, 2012, 06:02:49 AM »

I'm the daughter of a uNPD/BPD mother. I'm mostly on the 'Coping with relatives' Board. 

At 39 I have a lot of BPD fleas myself and have found it really difficult to enter and sustain healthy relationships. I've spent 2 out of the 3 years I've been with my current boyfriend in couples therapy. It has been incredibly expensive but we both work full-time and we have pooled resources to afford this. I feel incredibly lucky and privileged that he has stuck with me through my recovery from a lot of BPD-like behaviours and an anger management problem.

We don't yet live together, I had too many issues to exist with that level of day-in, day-out intimacy. We are working towards that. I could not have coped with marriage when I was younger, it would have ended in divorce. I am glad we have done all this work living mostly apart. I had a very abusive childhood and easily feel crowded and claustrophobic.

I'd say what has been key to saving our relationship is a therapist who doesn't fall for my cr*p but, at the same time, she has allowed me to cry and rage in therapy and given me a safe space to do so. She has also given my boyfriend the space to have his say and air his own feelings - which I was not giving him the space to do, nor was I listening to him.

Maybe what is different about me and many full-on PD'd people is that I desperately want to change, and I am totally committed to making my relationship a healthy one. I was just well enough to respond to couples therapy but only just. I am also forking out money for my own therapist as well. There is still a lot of damage from my childhood, adolescence and young adulthood to fix.

I think marriage counselling often fails as marriage itself is such a massive thing to enter into if your emotional health is not good. My BPD mother should not have got married and had kids, she was not fit to do so. Counselling cannot make a silk purse out of a sows ear.

If one of you has a serious mental illness (and full blown BPD is a serious illness) how can you expect an intervention to work that is designed for relatively healthy people?

Annie
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Nutts45
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« Reply #71 on: January 17, 2012, 09:41:15 AM »

After I meet with his therapist.

Her words, "What was I wanting out of this relationship, because SO is unable to give anything to the relationship.  He is not capable of being part of the relationship, and he has quite a road ahead of him."

Marriage counseling is for the marriage, but they have to be ready to have a relationship, most BPD's aren't.
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« Reply #72 on: February 08, 2012, 01:41:55 PM »

Well believe it or not, my SO wife, would like to try "intense/private marriage counseling" as a last resort.  She knows things are ugly, but she still refuses to look at herself for one minute.

I have seen on the boards that marriage counseling often doesn't seem to work with BPD. We tried briefly, but shortly thereafter she admitted herself to a women's substance and abuse facility that did absolutely nothing for her/us except making things worse.  She is not an alcoholic and doesn't touch drugs, and they told her "nothing is wrong with her."   She found the place herself, didn't consult with me, and just left the next day for 30 days.  Oh, and somebody stole her wedding ring to boot.   She left for this treatment center because she didn't know what was going on with her and she was "beating her husband."  (After many rages including spitting, yelling, breaking my finger, my ulna (on diff occasion), other physical abuse, screaming, tantrums, breaking a few computers, mirrors, the usual BPD stuff, etc, etc).

Anyway, are there any resources that may combine marriage counseling with a BPD specialist?   Is this common? 

Once she found out I was looking at a BPD specialist at Hopkins and she had a complete fit on me (I said I was thinking of this person for me...).    It would love for a counselor bring these issues out and talk to her/us about them and address them together.  I feel this is the only way this marriage will last and even if it doesn't, I feel she will continue on with life with the same patterns of broken relationships, mistrust of everyone, and never address the real, unresolved issues from her childhood and young adult life.




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an0ught
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« Reply #73 on: February 10, 2012, 02:00:23 PM »

Hi PA_Someday,

a possible plan and in order for it to work I would seek out someone specializing in CBT and/or DBT who also offers MC. But please forgive me for being skeptical. It may pay to follow me here closely as details matter, attitudes matter, expectations matter and ability to cope matter a lot and knowing where the challenges are may help to overcome them...

Well believe it or not, my SO wife, would like to try "intense/private marriage counseling" as a last resort.  She knows things are ugly, but she still refuses to look at herself for one minute.

So this is going to work - "intensive"? Refusing to look at herself and counseling? PwBPD are very sensitive and the challenge to look at themselves usually overwhelms them. You also have the attitude that she needs to look at herself. Which if it happens leads to dysregulation and if it does not happen soon leads to your disappointment. DBT starts with validation and building a relationship between T and pwBPD which does encompass validation of the pwBPD and their reality - a fairly distorted one. Not sure you have, with your opinion of her having to look at herself, the distance to stomach that (besides what good would it do to you or the relationship).

I have seen on the boards that marriage counseling often doesn't seem to work with BPD. We tried briefly, but shortly thereafter she admitted herself to a women's substance and abuse facility that did absolutely nothing for her/us except making things worse.  She is not an alcoholic and doesn't touch drugs, and they told her "nothing is wrong with her."   She found the place herself, didn't consult with me, and just left the next day for 30 days.  Oh, and somebody stole her wedding ring to boot.   She left for this treatment center because she didn't know what was going on with her and she was "beating her husband."  (After many rages including spitting, yelling, breaking my finger, my ulna (on diff occasion), other physical abuse, screaming, tantrums, breaking a few computers, mirrors, the usual BPD stuff, etc, etc).

Did nothing? During that time did you get beat? Did things not calm down a little? Distance can sometimes help.

Anyway, are there any resources that may combine marriage counseling with a BPD specialist?   Is this common?  

Once she found out I was looking at a BPD specialist at Hopkins and she had a complete fit on me (I said I was thinking of this person for me...).    It would love for a counselor bring these issues out and talk to her/us about them and address them together.  I feel this is the only way this marriage will last and even if it doesn't, I feel she will continue on with life with the same patterns of broken relationships, mistrust of everyone, and never address the real, unresolved issues from her childhood and young adult life.

Talking and being sensible does not help much. The pwBPD is running into problems when she is not sensible i.e. dysregulated. To deal with that one needs intensive training and time. We can help a little with regulation by validation  and we can make sure with boundaries that their problems stay where they belong. Sounds hard but helps them to see who has caused them in the first place. And by this often help them not to project their problems on us and enable them to regulation. Boundaries are absolutely key when it comes to DV. Not just to protect yourself - and it sounds like you have a real need here - but to improve emotional regulation on the other side and preventing the worst from happening.

Working together sounds find until you realize that it can easily, very easily lead to blurring the boundaries. Working together on your respective personal boundaries is not a good idea - how can you discuss with your wife what your values are and where you should draw the line in the sand and how you will protect yourself if she steps over? Undermines the exercise (note: I not saying boundaries should be secret here, but the process is private).

You have a DV problem which is almost always a sign of weak boundaries. Separation of stuff is very important for you. Please check out this workshop: US: Dealing with Enmeshment and Codependence and this workshop:    

BOUNDARIES: Upholding our values and independence
.



Of course you can play tactical game, find a T who has a clue about BPD and does MC and then you get totally upset about the T and dropping out leaving your wife the trophy of a T  smiley and getting your own one to get back to her (validating her feeling there are conflicts  wink ).
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« Reply #74 on: February 10, 2012, 02:15:47 PM »

High Conflict Couple is a book that uses DBT skills without bringing up BPD.  If you found a MC that has some experience with working from that model it might be helpful.

The workshops suggested by An0ught will be quite valuable.

Peace,

SB
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« Reply #75 on: February 27, 2012, 03:33:26 PM »

MC for us was quite frankly a waste of $250-$500 every month, depending on how often we went.

My BPDH wouldn’t usually try to blame me, b/c he found out early on he could not get away with that one.  But, he would blame others from his past, as well as past uncontrollable incidents of unfortunate fate that were traumatic.  Even though he finally stopped doing that, he never took any responsibility for himself regardless.  I think b/c internally, he still blamed his past, even though outwardly, he wasn’t expressing this.  He learned in some respects what to say and what to avoid saying (mirroring).  All I can say is that he still fails to take responsibility for himself.

I would let PDH do most of the talking at the start of each session, but it would get to the point where it sounded as if we had no problems.  He would try to paint this picture of an ideal that in reality did not exist.  I would finally have to step in and fill in the gaps where he failed to do so.  If I wasn’t there, the therapist would have only heard half the story, if that, and would think that other than a few little occasional snafus, everything was honky dory.  As if!

The last therapist that we saw together was always validating of me and clearly understood what I was going through, so that part helped.  But I could have gotten that from an individual therapist.  I guess what helped – rather, what was supposed to help, b/c I don’t think it ever really did – was that H was there to hear the validation.  In other words, he couldn’t argue that I was in the wrong with my perceptions, b/c the therapist generally sided with me (though not in a way that made H feel ganged up on).

Yes, the gist was working on communication, though the couples counselor felt I had that part down pat.  It was BPDH who didn’t, and still doesn’t.

BPDH recently fired our couples counselor, and I had also been seeing my own therapist anyway, and still am.  BPDH just started seeing therapist #4 for him in as many years.  I have no hope that anything will change from his end.

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« Reply #76 on: March 16, 2012, 11:55:22 PM »

In my 26 year marriage to uBPDxh, we were in counseling off and on from year one. I was encouraged that my ex would go to counseling, though frustrated and confused at why it did not produce lasting changes. I kept depending on counselors to have the answers.  Multiple counselors did not pick up on the BPD piece, and my ex seemed to enjoy trying to charm the women therapists--or getting them to feel sorry for him. His early wounds were from his mom, and it makes sense now how he looks for connections and nurturing from female relationships. The several male therapists didn't last long---ex got upset and refused to go back. It wasn't until I read SWOE's that it all started to make sense.  It's my opinion that the vast majority of counselors are not educated on high functioning BPD's---and only look for low functioning symptoms for BPD consideration. So it was missed---and that was the elephant in the room all along.







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« Reply #77 on: April 24, 2013, 05:10:49 PM »

Hello everyone.  My first post here.  I am currently in marriage counselling with what I believe to be an uBPDw, I think that's the right abbreviation.  So many of the posts in this thread resonate with me.

We have had three different marriage counselors over the years. My wife regularly dissolves into floods of tears whenever we attend counselling sessions. She is extremely intelligent, and always describes her plight with such great passion,clarity and anguish. Most people who hear her story immediately assume I must be a really terrible husband, including the counsellors/therapists.  She always somehow manages to put spin on everything to make even the tiniest domestic incident seem like it was a horrible slight against her, usually without materially changing the facts too much, which I think is in some ways quite an amazing skill. I usually try to patiently explain to the counsellor that the incident described didn't feel at all like that to me, but because I do not immediately seem to respond to the floods of tears and upset from my wife, I am often labelled as callous, or 'not in touch with my emotions', which just validates my wife's point of view that I am the cause of all our problems.  Over the years, she has tried in turn to label me with things like Asperger's Syndrome, to account for this lack of sympathy with her point of view.  I feel it is very difficult to be sympathetic towards something that didn't seem to actual happen, at least in the way it was described.

Often, as soon as the sessions are over, the tears immediately switch off, and my wife goes back to being her usual, rather detached self.   It seems like a performance to me, but if I suggest this to her, my wife uses that as a weapon against me, and tells the therapist that I am so callous that I even accuse her of trying to manipulate me via her anguish, to which the counsellors usually look duly horrified.   I even got a kiss today after the session, straight after reeling off all the horrible things she claims I do to her to make her feel so terrible that she had to cry throughout the whole session.

The therapists all seem very convinced by her. I pointed out that her crying through the whole session isn't very easy for me to deal with, but was told by the therapist that 'feelings can't be controlled'. If I try to point out the logical inconsistencies in her account of events, which there are occasionally, I am criticised for being "too rational", and not 'engaging on an emotional level' with our problems. 

Another problem is that the same rules don't seem to apply to me as to her.  She will quite happily criticize me for something, and the therapist will agree with her that this is unreasonable or undesirable, but if I then point out that she also does the same thing, this is somehow 'different', or in a different context that makes it acceptable.  The therapist never calls her on it, and says 'But this is just the same thing you claim your husband does, which you say hurts so much'.

The therapist asked us to summarize our childhood experiences.  My wife initially refused to talk about hers - she had a really difficult relationship with her mother, and I think she thought it would prejudice her argument to talk about it.  Even though she glossed over the worst parts, there was still a lot there for the therapist to get stuck into. However, instead the therapist opted to home in on my childhood (which was mostly happy, and I told her so) somehow in a bid to try and 'prove' that it wasn't as happy as I said it was.

We have three children, and the extremely difficult atmosphere in the household is affecting them too.  But according to the therapist, my poor attitude towards my wife is what is really affecting their views.  She essentially argued that because they are children, their views on us as parents don't really count for much, and so I should always support my wife, even if the children complain about how they are treated, and even if I sympathize with their complaints.  She essentially argued that I am teaching my children to disrespect their mother, by my own poor attitude towards my wife.  When I asked how I should behave when my children come crying to me because of horrible things their mother has said to them, she just said I should believe and support my wife.  But my own experience tells me that my wife does say horrible things, and then tries to spin them to seem less horrible - because she does the same thing to me too.

If I express any upset or frustration to my wife at the things she has said or done, she makes it seem like I am the problem, and claims I won't stop 'going on' about things, and have an inability to 'let go' of situations.  She never apologies for anything, never admits guilt, and never seems sorry about what she has done. 

I don't think I will go to another joint counselling session.  It seems a waste of money, and the therapist is so clearly in my wife's corner.  She essentially justified this today by arguing that she didn't want to see my wife go back into hospital (she briefly admitted herself to psychiatric hospital 8 years ago).


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crusty


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« Reply #78 on: July 08, 2013, 07:10:19 AM »

My BPD wife and I have been married for nearly six years. Back in December I got tired of her constant misdirections, inconsistent messages and telling me that all the mistakes she had made were my fault. I had an affair and ultimately left her for the other woman.

Over an extended period she begged me to come back and said she would forgive my affair. When we went to counselling it was instantly all about her and about my affair. She neatly pushed aside everything she had done and the first three sessions were instantly about what I had done to her. The abusive Facebook post, repeated broken promises and horrendoous debts didn't even get discussed.  It became like a three ring circus. Since then she has hit me and locked me in the house during arguments.

Right now she is telling me that she's changed that she realises she has issues but she still loves me and she wants to put it right. Even so when I raise things like her locking me in or the time she smashed a bottle of drink on my doorstep she seems to say that while she is sorry she did these things surely I must recognise that they were my fault.

She wants to try again and get more counselling but I have to say I am struggling with it slightly. I love her to bits and the chemistry is amazing but I don't know I can get the confidence to expose myself to potentially getting the BPD run around again. I think if you are going to get counselling then you absolutely have to make sure the counsellor will have experience in dealing with any specific underlying issues that either of you suffers from.

Certainly in our first round of marriage counselling the counsellor went straight for the victim act, as a result didn't get all the issues on the table and thus completely missed the broadness of our issuies.
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crusty


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« Reply #79 on: July 08, 2013, 07:11:57 AM »

I shoudl add we went to marriage counselling two years previously at my request. The counsellor called her out on her behaviour and she decided there was no point going anymore because he didn't get her.
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