(Note: The use of the term “spouse” in the article below is intended to include any two individuals in a relationship.)
Fears about the future together are normal. Facing your fears together is healthy.
Getting effective treatment for your spouse should be your first priority, because that’s the first step toward recovery from OCD. But before undergoing treatment, your loved one must be evaluated by a mental health provider who will evaluate him or her for the presence of any other mental health issues requiring treatment (e.g., depression, substance abuse) in addition to OCD.
If your loved one has OCD, and you’re experiencing relationship troubles, it’s a good idea for you to have a conversation with his or her therapist, as well. By taking a step back and looking at the whole relationship – not just the OCD – the therapist may be able to uncover other stresses in your relationship. OCD can present many challenges in a relationship, including threats to physical and emotion intimacy, and interference in social activities and relationships with others, not to mention fears about the future.
Some couples experience relationship difficulties as they try to decide whether or not to have children. When one or both partners have OCD, prospective parents may be extremely concerned about the possibility that their children could inherit OCD. It’s difficult to precisely estimate the chances that a parent will pass OCD on (i.e., genetically) to a child, even if one of the parents has OCD or a family history of OCD. In most cases, however, the chances are small that your children will have OCD. Be sure to talk with your doctor about your concerns. Also keep in mind that many major medical centers have genetics counselors on staff or by referral who can discuss this issue with you. The genetics of OCD is an area of active research, and new developments appear frequently.
You may also be experiencing any other number of daily stressors in your relationship that all couples face (e.g., financial difficulties, job-related concerns). Fears about the future together – whether or not they are related to OCD – are normal. There are certain steps you can take toward building or rebuilding a healthy relationship. One is taking care of yourselves physically, mentally and spiritually during times of stress. Another is facing your fears together. The choice is yours.
You can read more about OCD, related disorders in the OCD Facts or Individuals sections of this web site. You may also benefit from attending a support group (in person or online) to learn from the experiences of others who have battled and continue to battle OCD.