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My wife has a severe eating disorder and OCD. What about me?

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Q: I have been married for 12 years, my wife has been battling her eating disorder for 3 years now. In the past year, she has also developed OCD. She goes to a therapist once a week and refuses the advice of the therapist to check into a program. She weighs 80 lbs. and is dying in front of my eyes and I can’t do a thing about it. Her OCD and her eating disorder has consumed our lives, she hasn’t worked in 10 months and spends every moment cleaning and running. No one can convince her to get help. I feel that she chooses her disorders over our marriage. I have tried to stay patient and helpful over the first 2 years, but I can’t really take much more and I feel guilty about feeling that way. We can’t go out, and I feel that my life is passing by. I am considering leaving and feel terribly guilty for considering that, especially because I know it’s a disease. When you have someone who doesn’t make an effort to get better, when does self-preservation take over? I don’t like being at home and the stress of it all is taking a toll on me and my health.

My wife has a severe eating disorder and OCD. What about me?

Answered by on -

A.

You are certainly in a tough place. It is very hard to love someone who has a problem but either doesn’t realize it or just chooses to not do anything about it. You mentioned that she sees a therapist. I wonder if she is on medication. Psychotropic meds can help both of these disorders a great deal. If she isn’t, maybe you can suggest that she see a psychiatrist. Another option is to work with her family doctor regarding her condition (and therapist/psychiatrist). Depending on her height and prior weight, etc, she may be severe enough that she could be hospitalized involuntarily. If someone is a danger to self or others, or is so severely affected that they cannot function, they can be put on an emergency hold for at least 72 hours. Having said all that, I would suggest you find your own therapist or at least a local support group for family/friends of someone who has a mental illness or maybe even a codependency group. I say this so you can have some support from people who understand. It’s hard to walk away from someone who has a legitimate health issue but on the other hand, you are only responsible for your own health and happiness – just as she is responsible for herself. If you are going down with a sinking ship, maybe it is time to look for the lifeboat. Good luck.

My wife has a severe eating disorder and OCD. What about me?

Holly Counts, Psy.D.

Dr. Holly Counts is a licensed Clinical Psychologist. She utilizes a mind, body and spirit approach to healing. Dr. Counts received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Wright State University and her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Counts has worked in a variety of settings and has specialized in trauma and abuse, relationship issues, health psychology, women’s issues, adolescence, GLBT, life transitions and grief counseling. She has specialty training in guided imagery, EMDR, EFT, hypnosis and using intuition to heal. Her current passion involves integrating holistic and alternative approaches to health and healing with psychology.

APA Reference
Counts, H. (2018). My wife has a severe eating disorder and OCD. What about me?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/03/07/my-wife-has-a-severe-eating-disorder-and-ocd-what-about-me/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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