According to relationship specialist John Gray, differences between the ways men and women think, act and react all contribute to relationship and communication problems between the sexes. When adding a mental health issue such as personality disorder to the relationship, things can get even more complicated. The National Alliance of Mental Illness states that 1 in 10 individuals will personally deal with mental illness at some point in their life. Personality disorders cover a broad range of symptoms that are correlated to various types of this illness, which have specific related behaviors. Though it isn't impossible to have a successful marriage or partnership with a person who has personality disorder, it is especially challenging if your partner is not able to accept that his mental health may be compromised. It is always advisable for a couple dealing with relationship issues to contact a relationship therapist for support and advice.
Married to a Narcissist?
Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by deep-seated self-centered or grandiose behavior. Narcissists tend to see through rose-tinted glasses that proclaim that everything they do is perfection. People with Narcissistic personality disorder tend not to believe there is anything wrong with them, and are often quick to refuse the idea of relationship counseling. If a relationship with a narcissist is to continue, it is best to seek independent interests that can fulfill your personal needs in environments outside the personality disorder's reign. One theory about narcissistic personality disorder includes the idea that though the ego seems inflated, it is actually compensating for some sort of early childhood injury that resulted in poor self-esteem.
Living With a Borderline
Borderline Personality Disorder is most commonly assessed in women, but men can exhibit borderline traits as well. Borderline personality disorder usually manifests in very needy or possessive behavior that erupts in extreme emotionality or anger followed by tearful regret and self-loathing, depression or self-harm. Some therapists have described living in a relationship with a borderline as "walking on eggshells." Borderline Personality Disorder has been shown to have clinically significant improvement with the assistance of Dialectal Behavioral Therapy Teams, wherein the individual is taught how to better deal with and express her emotionality.
The Violent Partner
Some types of Personality Disorder manifest in violent behavior that is threatening or dangerous to others. Being married to an individual who reacts to marital stress with violence puts the compromised partner and their children in a serious life and death situation that needs attention immediately. Mental health providers agree that without anger management classes and a devotion to change within therapy, this type of relationship must end with the help of restraining orders and official intervention.
What to Do?
If you have chosen to commit to a marriage with someone who deals with personality disorder of any type, most relationship specialists will encourage you to find support within your spiritual community or mental health network of counselors. Your doctor can refer you to a specialist who may be able to help you and your partner find a meeting ground in which you can both find fulfillment and personal growth in your relationship. Utilizing the support of The National Alliance of Mental Illness can be helpful as you make connections with other people who live with and love the people in their families who deal with mental illness.
Loving someone who deals with mental illness can be very stressful. Be sure to take time for yourself to release tension each day. Aromatherapy can be a helpful medium for stress relief, according to aromatherapist Jeanne Rose. Simply select an essential oil of therapeutic grade that makes you feel relaxed. Some recommendations are vanilla, lavender, lemon balm, bergamot and ylang ylang essential oils. Add several drops of the essential oil of your choice to a carrier oil and add to warm bath water, or add the essential oil to a diffuser for an environmental boost. Remind yourself that you are not the cause of your partner's mental health issue. Taking up a yoga practice has been shown to be helpful for releasing tension and easing anxiety and depression associated with living with a difficult partner.
- "Why Mars and Venus Collide: Improving Relationships by Understanding How Men and Women Cope Differently with Stress"; John Gray PhD; 2008
- "DSM IV"; American Psychological Association; 2005
- "Fundamentals of Human Neuropsychology ";Brian Kolb; 2008
- "The Aromatherapy Book"; Jeanne Rose; 1992
- "Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder"; Paul T. Mason;1998