Marriage Troubles: Diagnosing a Spouse

More often than not, upon an initial consultation with a client, I hear some of the following remarks:

  • My spouse has OCD.
  • My spouse has ADD.
  • My spouse is manic-depressive.
  • My spouse is bipolar.

And the list goes on and on.

When I first began working with couples, the husband and the wife would each tell me – separately – that their spouse had some type of diagnosis. Interestingly, that diagnosis was frequently the same for both spouses.

You can imagine my shock at this phenomenon. Not only was I baffled by the number of mentally ill couples sitting in front of me, but I also couldn’t believe that both spouses would end up with the exact same condition!

Coincidence? Not so much.

With a majority of my clients, I soon realized that these supposed mental conditions weren’t diagnosed by a qualified doctor – they were diagnosed by their own spouse! And unless that spouse is a trained physician, these aren’t actual diagnoses at all.

Diagnosing a spouse and wrongly accusing them of having a condition – which they don’t actually have – severely impairs the relationship. And when one spouse knows that their partner thinks of them in a certain manner – which is not true – the pain inflicted is very deep indeed.

Diagnosing a spouse of some kind of condition is a form of escape. By saying our spouse has OCD or ADD or whatever the Diagnosis of the Month is, we can then blame all of our problems on that condition and – in some cases – even use it as a basis for divorce. We can escape the actual culprit of our marriage troubles.

Also, it’s always easier to focus on the faults or negative aspects of others because it makes it easier for use to be in the right. We tend to feel more secure when we have a name for whatever issues are causing our strife. So we name it on our own, assign the condition to our spouse, and wipe our hands of our own involvement.

In reality though, we shouldn’t and can’t take mental health conditions lightly. Mental health is a serious issue that affects millions of Americans every year. It’s not an excuse for marital issues, and married couples should leave diagnosing each other to the professionals.

So what can you do, then, instead of falling back on this easy blame game?

First, be proactive and take some responsibility for your marriage troubles. Then, seek professional help from a trained relationship coach who can help you gain the necessary insight and skills as to what makes a good marriage work and thrive. Instead of taking the easy way out by diagnosing your partner with a fundamental condition that is making your marriage fail, you can attempt to rectify your marriage, get over these hurdles, and be better prepared for anything that comes next.

Rooting for you!

Sara Freed

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