Q.My wife was just diagnosed with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) and it explains a lot about her behavior over the years. Don’t get me wrong she has not been unfaithful but she has tried to leave me several times. I went through a lot with her and still love her if not more but the same as when I married her. My question is if she has tried to leave so many times and I here that it won’t stop how do I deal with the pain over and over again? Can her behavior be curved or will this change in the future with therapy? I would appreciate any help and any links to helpful support groups. thank you
sincerely
Crying spouse (soldier)

A. You already know that life with someone with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) can be full of drama. Your wife is extremely sensitive and suffers from intense emotions. Little slights become very big deals. Big deals are unbearable. She is terrified of being abandoned. She may threaten to leave you or do something to make you want to leave her just so she can feel in control of the leaving. Some people with BPD even hurt themselves as a way to distract from feelings that are so big and so hard. On the other hand, she also loves intensely and experiences the world with a fullness that is unavailable to most of us. When she is feeling good, her love for you is passionate and strong. She makes you feel very special and puts you on a high, high pedestal. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much to topple you off again. The instability of her emotions and her impulsive behavior are not easy for either of you to live with.

Fortunately, there is an effective therapy for helping someone with BPD get on a more even keel. Dialectical Behavior Therapy, developed by Marsha Linehan in Seattle, teaches people with BPD practical skills for regulating emotions, increasing tolerance for stress, and maintaining interpersonal relationships. I strongly urge you to find out more about DBT and see if your wife would be willing to participate in it. Look for a therapist who is also comfortable including a spouse in the treatment in some way. You want to be a good support for your wife. Just as important, you need to learn how to take care of yourself when she is acting unstable. If your wife won’t go to therapy, I hope you will find a DBT therapist to talk to anyway. It’s really tough to try to deal with this kind of situation on your own. Support groups on line (http://psychcentral.com/resources/Personality/Support_Groups/) might also give you some help.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Mar 2006

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2006). Help for those with Borderline Personality Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2006/03/11/help-for-those-with-borderline-personality-disorder/