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Author Topic: Divorcing a BP, should treatment be part of the agreement?  (Read 576 times)
Nonbp12345678

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« on: January 12, 2020, 03:12:53 AM »

Hi,

This is my first post here.
Me and my wife have been going through a rollercoaster for the last 6 years, it has been a nightmare. For years, she was falsely diagnosed as bipolar. About two months ago, she was finally diagnosed with BPD, a diagnosis that fits all of the symptoms, and explains a lot of what we've both been going through for the past few years. We decided to divorce (actually, with the advice of my psych I thought we should wait a bit more til aftet we settle down with this new diagnosis, but she does not agree). I left the house and am now looking for a new apartment.

Most importantly, we have a daughter, 4 years old. Soon we will go to a lawyer to start talking about the separation agreement. I believe she will not bring up her diagnosis in this talk - should I? My main concern is of course my daughter, and giving her the best future I possibly can. I am concerned that my wife will not go to treatment, in which case things will detteriorate. Can we add her need for treatment as part of the agreement? Has anyone been in a similar situation and can advise?

Thanks in advance
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livednlearned
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« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2020, 02:31:01 PM »

It's a tough diagnosis to live with  Frustrated/Unfortunate (click to insert in post)

And equally tough to be in a relationship with someone who has the dx.

For the most part, it isn't the diagnosis so much as the behavior that courts care about. The pattern of behavior. There are plenty of people with a mental health diagnosis who are able to parent, so it isn't typically enough to mention a dx and expect others will understand what that means for D4's welfare.

Are you planning to see a lawyer together?

You seem to be able to come to some kind of agreement about the divorce ... are you anticipating that she will be compliant in coming to a fair separation agreement?
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zachira
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« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2020, 03:23:54 PM »

As a daughter who was raised by a mother with BPD, I would say do everything you can to get treatment for your daughter's mother, individual therapy for your daughter, and some family therapy. Four years old is not too young for a child to be in therapy. You really need to know what is going on when your daughter is with her mother, so you can help remedy some of the inappropriate behaviors that the mother of your daughter will surely exhibit in the presence of your child. Now that the mother has been diagnosed with BPD, this needs to be out in the open for evaluating custody and solving on going problems which will surely occur with the child's mother.
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Nonbp12345678

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« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2020, 03:43:38 PM »

We plan to go to a mediator actually, not a lawyer, together indeed.
We both agree on shared custody, I hope it's for the best. At this stage I think it is the best for my daughter, I am very concerned about the future though..
Thank you for sharing zachira! I do think that 4 year old is a bit too young for therapy though. So far the problematic behaviors have been mostly exhibited towards me, I am thus even more concerned by the fact that I won't be there.. Who will she exhibit this behavior towards now if not my daughter? Just saying this makes me very scared and anxious... I am also concerned that once my daughter grows up the conflict level between her and her mother will rise significantly. I am in therapy, my wife is in therapy (she just started, and I truly hope she will continue) and I definitely think it's a good idea that my daughter will also be in therapy, at a later stage.
Life feels so tough in this situation :-(
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ForeverDad
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« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2020, 09:04:03 PM »

First, do you have proof on paper of her diagnosis?  It's quite possible she will try to hide that fact.  The Denial can be that intense.  Word to the wise, keep duplicate records in a separate place where she has no access.  Some pwBPD have been known to break into locked briefcases and vehicle trunks, even search the spouse's workplace.  Your spouse may not go that far but some have had such extreme responses.

What we here don't know is whether your spouse may go to extremes.  She may play nice but behave poorly, possessively.  For example, you may think you'll be super fair and super nice and want to agree to equal time.  I'd bet she will instead claim you should work, let her parent most of the time and you pay generous child support for the next 15 years or so.  So... where does being overly nice get you?  Instead, likely you'll face greater or lesser F.O.G. = Fear, Obligation, Guilt.

Similarly with Shared Parenting.  You may feel it's okay to let her be primary parent.  But guess who decides where the kid goes to school?  Who school officials and doctors default to as primary contacts?  Are you confident her skewed perceptions and worldview will enable consistent cooperation in parenting matters?

I'm not saying you should be mean but warning you to know HOW to stand your ground for the best future of your child.  Being forewarned is to be proactive, informed and alerted to potential risks.  You may think that if you're super nice and super giving then the court and all the professionals will see how nice you are.  Doesn't work that way, they don't pay much attention to who's nice and who's not so nice.  Then in the years to come when you try to undo some of those niceties stifling your parenting, it will be tough and expensive to fix.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2020, 06:51:24 PM by ForeverDad » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2020, 12:10:38 AM »

I've shared custody for 6 years now, since our son hist turned 4 and D was 1. We've been through a lot. What's best for your daughter who is looking though 4 year old girl eyes? My son sussed some things out, but my daughter didn't.

Maybe 2 years ago, their mom lost control and slammed her coffee mug on his leg in the car. She felt so guilty that she told me and invited me to the doctor visit. It left a mark, which is reportable child abuse in our state of California. The female doctor chalked it up to kids frustrate you,  and he's ok.  He was, but what the hell? Not that I would have enjoyed CPS digging into our lives.

Overall, the kids love their mom, even though they've told me several times that they love me more (hard to say how sincere that is at these ages).

Don't underestimate how influencial you can be as a stable household. I thought about fighting for majority custody, and had the financial means, but thought it better to get het to agree to joint physical and legal custody.

A buddy of mine divorced his wife, and was fine with meditation, but het friends encouraged a fight.  It cost him over $10k and her maybe $5k. For a result which could have been worked out in meditation. Try this route first.  Your r/s is done. Focus on your daughter. If she's not in overt danger with her mom,  focus on getting equal time and cherish that and work at it. 
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« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2020, 08:18:25 AM »

My H's ex is in therapy.  She uses it as an opportunity to complain about how awful my H is - she gets validation from her therapist that she's right to feel he's <fill in the blank of evil characteristics> and then when the therapist finally figures out that she's the problem, ex switches therapists.   This has been going on for a few years now.

Treatment only works if the person *wants* to change.  Otherwise they are just going through the motions to look good to the court.

It is a very good idea to write into your custody agreement that your daughter should have therapy, and write in the method you will use to choose the therapist. (My H has sole control to make mental health decisions now, because his ex therapist shops so much and hates SD's therapist.)   My daughter started therapy right before she turned 5.  She had a lot of trouble adjusting to the divorce (and that's without a parent with a personality disorder).

Even though your daughter might not show a need for therapy right now, having her see one semi-regularly can help mitigate your concerns about leaving your daughter along with your wife.  The T can be a neutral person to flag concerns if D is experiencing emotional abuse.

H and his ex had 50/50 custody starting when SD was 2.  SD started experiencing emotional abuse from her uBPDmom around age 4.  It ramped up steadily over the years until it was really, really bad.  H got primary custody when she was 11.  Two years later, mom is down to 8 hr daytime visits 4 days a month.  No overnights.

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livednlearned
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« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2020, 08:30:16 AM »

4 isn't too young for therapy -- they call it play therapy and it's a way for professionals to identify early warning signs. Ages 0-6 are the most developmentally tender especially in terms of your daughter's ability to internalize secure or insecure attachment (through mom). Most people with BPD have an inability for form secure attachments (push/pull) and that deficit will begin to show up in your daughter's behavior more significantly as she gets closer to 6.

One of the things parents are supposed to do for their kids is help them label, identify, and manage emotions -- this helps with frustration tolerance throughout life, and helps build a healthy sense of self. BPD moms tend to look to the child for emotional regulation, which is developmentally the reverse of what is supposed to happen. Your wife may have a hard time seeing D4 as someone separate from herself, making it hard for D4 to fully individuate and become her own person.

Putting my son in therapy at age 9 was too late. He was already considered at-risk for emotional and behavioral issues.

If you can, go with your child to play therapy and ask for guidance on how best to parent a child whose mom has BPD. There is a genetic component to BPD, and if D4 is predisposed to emotional sensitivity you alone could be her greatest influence in life, just by learning the specific communication and relationship skills that emotionally sensitive people need. For many of us, the skills are not intuitive and must be learned. These same skills can also help with co-parenting, or parallel parenting if that's what's best for you and your family.

All this is to say that you may not be able to get your wife's treatment addressed in mediation (seems dicey ... ) but your daughter's access to therapy may be something you can agree on.

How do you anticipate your wife will respond if you mention her diagnosis to the mediator?
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« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2020, 10:14:59 AM »

My H's custody agreement says my SS3 (almost 4) needs to be in therapy once a week for a year.  So, it's definitely not too young.  They also offer a lot of group therapy for young kids which they feel is just one big play group.  There are many options, but I suggest finding something for your D.  Actually the custody agreement says H and BPD also need to be in therapy once a week.  So, yes, it definitely can be added into the agreement.  I'm not sure how it's enforced though.  We have no idea if BPD is in therapy.  My guess is she has stopped. 
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MeandThee29
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« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2020, 09:33:24 AM »

You can try to get treatment into the agreement. I would definitely push that for your child. No matter what the age, kids struggle when their parents break up. Your wife may not agree of course regarding treatment for her, and ultimately you can't force that. But I would be emphatic about your child. I made a lot of mistakes, but one thing I did right was getting my kids help. Evening being much older, they needed an experienced adult to guide them into healthy thinking about what happened.

Make sure that you are clear in your mind what you expect out of mediation and what might cause you to break it off. My attorney discouraged me from mediation, and his attorney voiced the same opinion to mine at one point. Some people with aspects of BPD don't do at all well with it. There has to be a willingness to be reasonable and a level of self-control. As my attorney often said, some divorces have bumps and scrapes, and then there are the ones where one or both get out the emotional shotgun and go for it. If you are getting mostly the emotional shotgun, you may have to break off mediation.
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Nonbp12345678

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« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2020, 03:41:00 PM »

We went to an intro meeting with a mediator, it was pretty terrible. He mostly explained to us about the process, but at one point W raised the point that I was supposed to be with D in the morning today and didn't show. That is despite the fact that we agreed prior that I will not be coming today (i have texts). The guy seems great, but it's very expensive and my main concern is that W will quit in the middle.. He offers two forms of payments, one global and one hourly. Since I am sure we will need many hours, the global option is probably better, but if she quits in the middle then we'll have to pay it all.. So I'm still considering my next move...

On a different and more important note - as I previously mentioned, the situation between us has become terrible lately. There is so much tension around the house that I feel it's harmful to my D. About a week ago, W expressed her desire to split. I since left the house and am currently staying with my parents. I am looking for an apartment, but today she suddently said that I cannot rent an apartment because that is a large expense made from our shared account, and she considers it a violent one-sided move. My parents offered to help with the rent, but of course this doesn't matter to her, since logic is irrelevant... I don't know what to do, I have never been this frustrated in my life.
Today, after the meeting we sat a bit together because I wanted to tell her that I am moving forward with finding an apartment because I feel it's the best move for me and for my D (we tried to have her stay in one house with me coming and going, but the tension between us is unbearable. Even when we agreed that she will leave the house until D is asleep, she did not do it, came early and started making various comments about what a bad parent I am)
She said some awful things to me today. That I'm a bad parent, that I don't love my daughter, that I'm a chauvinist, etc. etc.. I tried to exercise the techniques I learned in the book "stop walking on eggshells" - reflective listening, depersonalization, I statements, compassion. But nothing helped. She was outraged, and didn't let me complete a sentence.. I try not to answer agressively as I am afraid she will fall apart completely, which will not be good for my D. W does not work, I bring in all the money, and now she's saying that I can't spend any money without her approval (e.g to pay rent, furniture, etc). I didn't say how absurd that is and didn't express my feelings as I am afraid things will just escalate. It's as if I'm all out of moves. I'm helpless.  I am so frustrated, I just don't know what to do anymore......
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Nonbp12345678

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« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2020, 03:44:58 PM »

I also don't feel that having lawyers will improve the situation, it would just make it worse... All I truly care about is my daughter
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« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2020, 11:21:15 PM »

All I truly care about is my daughter

Okay then... Just care about your daughter and do what you feel best with the rest.  Sounds radical?  That's what it is, radical acceptance... of "what is".  You can't fix "what is" so ponder it all and handle what you can.  And the rest, well, it will just have to fend for itself.

Okay, does that calm your stress a bit?  Sorry for the blunt words.

Let's take a look at your stresses and distresses.  For example, you earn the money.  If it's going into a joint account then of course she feels she can control it.  That was my problem in the last months of my marriage, though at the time I didn't know the end was so close.  I needed to buy a vehicle.   I found a used one for a decent price.  Then my ex got triggered by something and refused to be a joint owner of it.  Fine.  Then when I went to take the money out as a loan from my 401(k), she refused to sign the J&S spousal acknowledgement form required by my employer's plan.  The dealer went ballistic.  I had to take time off work, go to my mortgage bank and seek a loan.  Fortunately that worked.  But... one of the requirements was that I have my paycheck deposited there in a new personal account, which I didn't have a problem with.  Yeah, she did, she went ballistic demanding I reset the paycheck back to our joint account.  I refused, after all, all this happened because of her refusal to sign a single acknowledgement form.

For me that was a boundary I determined I had to set.  As a side benefit, it meant she didn't have access to my income.  I did pay the bills but she was so angry.  Yet she started things on that path.  Yeah, she didn't like boundaries.  What's that saying?  "Tough noogies."  Yes we did separate within a few months.  But as I look back I know we would have separated anyway.  As it turned out, that boundary was a good one.  She couldn't raid the joint account of too much money.

Can my experience help you take each facet of your problems, objectively ponder solutions and then choose the "least troublesome" one?  Frankly, it won't be easy to determine the least problematic path, and even harder to implement it, but in our cases with high conflict separations we have to take the lemons and make lemonade.
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« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2020, 12:04:54 PM »

Mediation is a process that is high on the emotional distress level (so is divorce in general).  She's unable to regulate herself, so she pushes her feelings into blaming you and trying to control you.  It will create more emotional distress for you, too, so I hope that you are also in therapy or considering going to therapy.  You are still pretty deep in the FOG (Fear Obligation Guilt), which is normal for this stage of your breakup.

That is despite the fact that we agreed prior that I will not be coming today (i have texts).
Our strategy is not to deviate from the written agreement if we can possibly help it.   This eliminates a lot of drama, even if it is sometimes inconvenient.

Excerpt
she suddently said that I cannot rent an apartment because that is a large expense made from our shared account, and she considers it a violent one-sided move.
Do you live in a community property state?

Has the mediator or a lawyer shared with you the guidelines for what expenditures are considered reasonable while a divorce is ongoing?  (If not, consult a lawyer and ask - you can get information without hiring the L to represent you.  It is highly unlikely an L would say you can't rent an apartment as long as the joint bills are still being paid.)

Is it normal in your area for there to be temporary orders before a final divorce?  Often the temporary orders are where it is specified how much money you are required to send her each month or what bills you are required to pay.  The rest of your paycheck is then yours.  Temporary orders can also forbid one or both parties from taking out loans.

Excerpt
came early and started making various comments about what a bad parent I am)
Please document any and all comments she makes about your parenting in front of your child.  If you can record her, do so.  If not, keep a diary where you write it all down.  Her comments are disparagement, and courts do not like it when that happens in front of the children.

Excerpt
I am afraid she will fall apart completely, which will not be good for my D.
Your wife is going to fall apart completely at some point. It may be because of something you did.  It may be because of something she *thinks* you did that you didn't do.  It may be because she fears that you *will* do something you haven't done yet.  Or it may be because of something completely unrelated to you.

Her disorder means that it is likely when she is under a great deal of stress that she will eventually fall apart.  That is not good for your D.

HOWEVER, it is better for your D if that happens NOW, while you are legally in the midst of determining who is better able to take care of D. If your wife cannot figure out how to stabilize herself in front of her child, then she is not being a good mother.  She shouldn't have primary - or even 50/50 - custody of a preschooler.

You should not be rude, but it is not your job or your responsibility to bend over backwards to soothe her.  It's not.

My H and I spent YEARS trying to soothe his uBPDex because "it would be bad for SD" if her mom fell apart.  We bought into uBPDex's belief that she was a good mother except and that SD needed her mom.  We forgot to advocate for what was truly best for SD.  When we started looking at the situation strictly from the perspective of "how is this behavior affecting SD?  How would I feel if this happened to another child?", we realized that if X is outcome is bad for SD, it was much easier for us to get SD out of that situation than to try to control / soothe uBPDex into not melting down in the first place.

When we stopped soothing and started setting boundaries around what we would tolerate for SD and for ourselves, uBPDex fell apart.  She ended up admitted to inpatient psychiatric care twice last year.   This was A Good Thing.  The treatment helped uBPDex become more stable, at least temporarily.  We got a new custody agreement - SD12 sees her mom < 45 days per year, only from 10 am - 6 pm.  SD is HAPPY with this new schedule, and uBPDex is making an effort to be a better parent in that constrained time.  (And I'm in therapy because I struggled with guilt over "taking SD away from her mother"...when what I was really doing was protecting a child I love)

In the long run, your D will not win if your strategy is to soothe her mom out of her upset feelings.

I also don't feel that having lawyers will improve the situation, it would just make it worse...

What do you think will get worse if you have a lawyer?

What do you think might be better if you have a lawyer?
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MeandThee29
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« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2020, 09:18:25 AM »

I also don't feel that having lawyers will improve the situation, it would just make it worse.

My lawyer was the managing partner of a firm specializing in high conflict personalities. He got me a negotiated settlement, so no mediation, no collaboration, and no court. Just lawyer-to-lawyer via phone and email.

In retrospect I realize how good that really was. We never met face-to-face, and I didn't have to worry about my responses while my ex was doing what he did. His lawyer got all the anger and disorder. And it was expensive and went on-and-on (my lawyer lost track of how many revisions there were, LOL), but far less than some. 

That doesn't work for everyone of course.

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« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2020, 09:06:27 AM »

We forgot to advocate for what was truly best for SD. 

This is the key point and most important to consider. It does mean that others people won't like it but the best interest of the child means so much.

(And I'm in therapy because I struggled with guilt over "taking SD away from her mother"...when what I was really doing was protecting a child I love)

Sorry to hear that and can understand why you feel like that but from another perspective: BPD has taken SD's mother away. What you have done has contributed to her building the potential of a real relationship with her mother, reduced the risk of BPD passing from generation to generation and shown SD what 'normal can look like.
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« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2020, 12:48:09 PM »

You are expressing emotions and experiences that a lot of people on this board have also experienced.  I feel like I read in your post that you're afraid of your W's reactions/actions.  Lots of mention of fear in your posts.  Your W might fall apart - your D most likely will be ok with support and love. There are things we can't protect our children from, but we can work through with them, guide them. It just hurts that much more when it's their other parent, or a situation we're involved in that we feel guilt about (e.g. a marriage that is not workable).  That was a bitter pill for me to swallow.  I spent many frustrated nights crying over that one, and feel many regrets still.

Please seriously consider therapy for your D, starting right away.  4 is not too young.  Also, I would recommend putting in a requirement for therapy in any agreement, and I don't recommend putting an ending date for therapy in any agreement.  My exH has tried for years to stop D's therapy.  Her T has told me just recently that she is doing great and yet T wants to continue seeing her so that there is an outside, objective observer to what is going on for D re: exH.  (e.g. last year I found he had put his half-empty/half-full airplane-sized whiskey in her backpack after a trip to Disneyland; she had carried it to school, to friends' houses, etc.  She was 9 or 10.).

Excerpt
I didn't say how absurd that is and didn't express my feelings as I am afraid things will just escalate. It's as if I'm all out of moves. I'm helpless.  I am so frustrated, I just don't know what to do anymore......
I empathize greatly with your feeling of helplessness.  I, too, experienced that.  And frustration.  It is incredibly frustrating to need to work with individuals with BPD/NPD, or rely on them.  One thing I learned is that sometimes those feelings are theirs - they are creating situations that create those/their feelings in you.  You feel helpless, but I think once you reflect some more, you may see that you are not helpless - you have skills and resources you can access.  Having a T to talk to can be such a big help - I'm glad to hear you see a T, and I hope they can help you reframe things and find a way through.  

I also was on the receiving end of the "you're a bad parent" thing.  Sandwiched between, "you're the best parent in the world." But I guess be very careful in case she escalates to accusing you of abuse to the court system.  

I would consider getting a lawyer.  I don't know that it's reasonable that your W says you can't get an apartment.  When I had my exH served with divorce papers, he ran away for a couple of days, then rented an apartment and bought some furniture.  Of course that was what he had to do - what else could he do?  But I had a lawyer and he was able to tell me what was reasonable and what would not have been.  So while it was a difficult time, having a lawyer helped me not panic that exH would spend into financial oblivion (which seems to be a hobby of his) or cut me off completely (I was a stay-at-home mother with little income). I felt my rights were protected with a lawyer involved, and exH, who is a lawyer, knew someone from his legal community had eyes on the situation.

I echo the suggestion to document everything in writing.  And perhaps a temporary agreement, drawn up by a lawyer, will be helpful.
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