Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder: A Challenging Disorder for a Couple's Relationship
Updated: Nov 15
Obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is a complex mental illness that affects a person's thoughts and behavior. Those who suffer from OCPD have a strong or pathological need for order, control, and perfectionism, which can lead to tension in personal relationships.
In this blog, we will discuss what OCPD is, the symptoms of OCPD, and the impact it can have on a couple's relationship. We'll also provide tips on how to relate with someone with OCPD and effective treatment approaches for those with OCPD.
What is OCPD?
Obsessive compulsive personality disorder is a personality disorder characterized by a pattern of inflexible and unrealistic expectations and rules. A person with OCPD has a need for perfectionism, order, and control, often to the point of interfering with their ability to function in daily life.
The "compulsion" in the disorder's name refers to an excessive and repetitive behavior that a person feels they need to do to fulfill these expectations and rules, which can be distressing and time-consuming.
How does OCPD develop?
Several factors could contribute to a person's development of OCPD, including a chaotic upbringing, an abusive environment, or overprotective parents. Having a family member with OCPD or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) could also increase a person's likelihood of developing OCPD.
Researchers have found a genetic predisposition to personality disorders, and that personality disorders, in general, could be triggered by traumatic experiences that occur during childhood or adulthood.
Symptoms of OCPD
The symptoms of OCPD include a preoccupation with order, perfectionism, and control. These symptoms can be distressing to both the person with OCPD and those around them.
Here are some common symptoms of OCPD and their descriptions:
Preoccupation with Perfectionism
A person with OCPD often has very high standards for themselves, which can lead to rigidity and inflexibility. They may have difficulty completing tasks or projects because they believe it is not good enough and needs to be redone repeatedly.
Obsession with Orderliness
A person with OCPD may feel uneasy when objects are out of place or space is disorganized. They may have trouble focusing or sleeping.
A person with OCPD can have trouble adapting to new situations or changes in routine because they want to maintain a sense of control. There is no room for seeing another's point of view or negotiation.
A person with OCPD can be overly stringent in their beliefs, routines, and values. They may insist on following certain rituals or rules that have no practical value. They may also insist that their partner follow the same rules or have rules for the partner that they themselves do not have to follow.
Lack of Emotional Expression
A person with OCPD may have difficulty expressing their emotions or understanding others' emotions, leading to a lack of empathy.
Impact on a Relationship
The symptoms of OCPD can be extremely difficult for those around them, especially in romantic relationships. A person with OCPD may be controlling, manipulative, and overly critical of their partner. Their preoccupation with perfectionism can lead to intense stress and frustration for their partner.
The partner may feel that they can never meet expectations or the needs of the person with OCPD -- the goal line is ever changing. Over time, these behaviors can lead to relationship conflicts, distance, and even divorce.
Tips for Relating with Someone with OCPD
Relating with someone with OCPD can be a challenge, but there are ways to cope. Here are some tips:
A person with OCPD needs patience and understanding, and it's important not to take their behavior personally. Recognize that their compulsive behavior is a symptom of the disorder, and it's not a reflection of their love for you.
Communicate clearly about what you're willing to tolerate and what needs to change. Set boundaries that support your well-being but not in a way that triggers their symptoms, leading to conflict and further animosity.
Encourage your partner to seek professional help from a family counseling provider. Seeking therapy or counseling can support the individual with OCPD understand their symptoms and find ways to manage them effectively.
Prioritize Your Mental Health
If your partner refuses to be open to constructive feedback or input as people with OCPD often are, they refuse to acknowledge the problem and seek help, it is important to weigh your options in the relationship.
If your mental health is compromised due to the relationship and your partner is unable or unwilling to get help, it may be time to consider ending the relationship.
OCPD is a serious personality disorder that can be treated but, in the meantime, can wreak havoc on the partner's emotional health.
Effective Treatment Approaches for OCPD
Several effective treatments can help a person with OCPD reduce their symptoms.
Couples therapy is a highly recommended approach (with a word of caution):
Couples therapy can help a person with OCPD improve their communication, relationships, and emotional expression. The couple may explore dynamics leading to personal, interpersonal, or systemic barriers for change.
Couples counseling can also help improve communication skills, deepen empathy, and develop an effective family support structure. Research has shown that couples therapy is an effective form of treatment for OCPD.
A word of caution on couples counseling for OCPD. Both partners will need to be open to examining themselves and their actions then commit to make change. It is often the case in OCPD that the person with OCPD will find any constructive feedback as threatening and will not accept the feedback on their actions.
Should this be the case, couples counseling will not be effective and in fact, could cause more harm for the other partner.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT):
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) involves identifying and challenging negative thoughts and behaviors. The therapy helps the person learn new skills and strategies to manage their symptoms. It is an evidence-based approach to treating a wide variety of anxiety disorders or anxiety related disorders including OCPD.
Wrapping it Up
Obsessive compulsive personality disorder can have a significant impact on relationships, but with the right treatment approach and couples or individual therapy, symptoms can be managed, and relationships can be improved.
By being informed, communicating openly, and seeking help from a professional, people dealing with OCPD can overcome the challenges and build fulfilling relationships.
Sugar Land Teen & Family Counseling: Providing Support for Couples in Sugar Land, TX & Houston
Sugar Land Teen & Family Counseling, located in Sugar Land, TX, our couples therapists and marriage counselors have helped other couples overcome the challenges in their relationship. We are conveniently located off of US 90 and Dairy Ashford Road.
Contact Sugar Land Teen & Family Counseling
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Other Therapy and Counseling Services Offered at Sugar Land Teen & Family Counseling
At Sugar Land Teen & Family Counseling, we provide a variety of therapy approaches that are supported by research and shown to be effective. Some of the teen therapy and young adult counseling we offer are:
Board Certified Neurofeedback Therapy
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)
Group Therapy for Teens
Teen Social Anxiety
Teen Panic Attacks
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Couples Therapy & Marriage Counseling
Couples Therapy and Marriage Counseling can be very effective. The secret ingredient to success is each person willing to look at themselves and work to do things differently, together. When a marriage counselor or couples therapist has this to work with, the success rate can be very high.
Sometimes life will throw challenges at us that create situations that put strain on our marriage or relationship. It may be due to:
Choices and actions that have been made by one partner.
Financial downturn in the economy creating financial strain.
Feeling like you're growing apart.
Feeling like you don't have as much in common as you used to.
About the Author
Jason Drake is a Licensed Clinical Worker - Supervisor (LCSW-S), Board Certified in Neurofeedback, EMDR trained, and a Certified Brain Health Professional through the Amen Clinics. He has provided therapy to teens, young adults, and families since 2003 and is the Owner & Lead Clinician at Sugar Land Teen & Family Counseling, Katy Counseling for Men, & Katy Teen & Family Counseling.
He specializes in leading teams of high performing therapists who also specialize in teen therapy, counseling young adults, and family counseling.
Jason is also a leader in the field of teen, young adult, and family counseling providing expert coaching and technical assistance to teen Residential Treatment Centers across the country.
Jason is also a regular contributor to various magazines and publications lending his expertise to various mental health related topics. You can check these articles out on our "Featured Articles" service page on our website.
If you are ready to start teen counseling or young adult therapy call, text, or email us today!
Phone Number: (832) 979-4989