A marriage stressed by obsessions and compulsions

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The irony is that being obsessed with security can actually make you less secure because you are focusing so much on an imaginary problem that you don’t see the real one. When he dropped our son off at preschool, Mike started to worry about accidentally hitting someone without knowing it. Instead of looking at the road, he began to obsessively check the rearview mirror.

I begged him to stop worrying and be careful.

When I explained the situation to my therapist, she recommended that I see someone who specializes in obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, which Mike and I knew little about. We thought we knew more, but what we imagined was the film version: washing your hands frequently, turning the lights on and off, avoiding stepping on cracks. These weren’t Mike’s problems.

Additionally, people often associate OCD with being a “neat freak.” How could my distracted husband, with his piles of unfolded clothes, have OCD?

A specialist explained that Mike’s obsession was not with cleanliness but with safety, especially around contamination and poisoning. His compulsions were seeking and seeking solace. Like an addictive drug, insurance had less effect each time, so it took more and more to overcome your fear. So every time I promised her everything would be fine, I was actually feeding her trouble.

What we learned about OCD:

Symptoms usually appear in childhood or adolescence, but can also appear in adulthood.

Once symptoms start, it often takes several years for people to receive the correct diagnosis and treatment.

Fortunately, treatment can be very effective.

On our first meeting with the specialist, we made a list of all the things that worried Mike and put them in order. Then, starting with the easiest, he began to face his fears and sit down with discomfort.


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