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How obsessive compulsive disorder may affect your divorce

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How obsessive compulsive disorder may effect your divorce

(How OCD may effect your divorce)

If you or your spouse is suffering from a mental health condition, it will effect your divorce. You should gain information about the condition and make sure you have an attorney who understands the condition. Not looking for information on OCD, find our page on Bi-Polar Disorder, Addictions, or ADHD here.
Obsession and Compulsion.
These are the two factors of hoarding, eating disorders and OCD conditions. While it may be quite obvious with obsessive-compulsive disorder, given the name, some people aren’t aware that the basis of conditions like hoarding and disordered eating are based in struggles with regulating compulsions and obsessive or anxious thoughts.
The actual issue is usually just a symptom or a means of control. People aren’t really struggling with eating or collecting items. They are struggling with much bigger emotional issues that are resulting in them trying to control their lives in some other way. Hoarders do it by collecting things. Those with eating disorders do it by trying to control their eating to a dangerous extent.
As research continues, we’ll likely see more similarities between these conditions and learn more about how they are affected by various factors and vice versa. For example, one study reported that as many as 64% of the people who are diagnosed with eating disorders also have anxiety conditions, including OCD.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

How obsessive compulsive disorder may affect your divorce

OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, is a serious condition that affects millions of people. It is part of the family of mental illnesses and has its own symptoms and effects to consider. This condition may be brought on by external factors like extreme stress, but it’s believed that there may also be genetic factors at play. Like most mental health conditions, OCD does not really have an exact defined cause or group of causes.
However, research is ongoing and it’s believed that genetics, social and environmental factors, and other mental health disorders or medical conditions can all play a role in the development of OCD and other compulsive behaviors and conditions.
Some people consider OCD to belong to the family of anxiety disorders. While they are related and anxiety is often a symptom of OCD, there is a lot more to the condition than that. OCD is marked by repeated and obsessive thoughts that fuel compulsive behaviors, rituals, and habits. This is generally a co-occurring disorder, which means it’s rarely found on its own. It usually is diagnosed along with anxiety, eating disorders, hoarding disorder, or substance abuse.
People struggling with this condition also have feelings of unease and apprehension, which is what fuels the behaviors and repetition that is designed to soothe the related anxiety. Whereas individuals with conditions like BPD might not be able to self-soothe effectively, those with OCD have found a way to self-soothe through their compulsions.
Signs and Symptoms into the obsessions and the compulsive behaviors include:

Obsessive Thoughts 

  • Fear of harming oneself or someone else
  • Fear of losing personal belongings or items
  • Fear of being polluted or “tainted” by dirt or germs
  • Excessive attention to false beliefs and superstitions
  • Having a belief or urge for everything to be symmetrical, linear, or otherwise orderly
  • Thoughts that are out of one’s control that are anxiety-inducing and interfere with daily life
  • Violent or disturbing thoughts or beliefs regarding habits and activities
  • Suspicions that a partner is unfaithful, even when completely unfounded
  • Constant awareness of bodily sensations like breathing, blinking, your heartbeat, and more
  • Aggressive or dangerous thoughts directed at yourself or others


Compulsive Behaviors


  • Excessive time spent on cleaning or hygiene
  • Repetitive habits, including obsessively arranging or ordering items in and around the home
  • Constantly checking on things like switches or door locks
  • Hoarding items and objects unnecessarily
  • Counting, tapping, saying words, or other repetitive behaviors designed to quell anxiety or reduce intrusive and obsessive thoughts
  • Fear of touching public items like doorknobs, toilets, and so forth
  • A compulsive need to count items, actions, or even just to count for the sake of counting
  • Doing tasks a specific number of times
  • Inability to control thoughts and behaviors that are deemed excessive and take up more than an hour of the day
  • Doesn’t derive pleasure from performing behaviors, but feels slight relief from the anxiety and stress caused by the obsessive thoughts
  • Can experience significant problems with daily routines and functioning because of the intrusive nature of the thoughts and beliefs.

This is the biggest difference that sets OCD apart from regular anxiety conditions: people are literally unable to stop performing the behaviors that calm the thoughts, which can impede their ability to function on a daily basis. The OCD can interfere with interpersonal relationships, daily tasks, and even work, causing people to struggle to maintain gainful employment. Not only that, but OCD may also present along with a tic disorder in some individuals, further complicating the situation.

How Do Obsessive Conditions Manifest in Divorces and Coparenting?

How obsessive compulsive disorder may affect your divorce- (How OCD may effect your divorce)
Obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors can impact every single aspect of someone’s life. If these conditions are interrupting their daily life, of course they are going to impact relationships and affect how people get through things like divorce and custody arrangements. People already struggling with OCD may develop irrational obsessive thoughts that they have failed somehow and have to make up for that failure by developing a new routine or habit.
It may even be simply that their already-intrusive habits and activities have created a disconnect in their relationships and caused their partner to become bitter, resentful, or otherwise unable to deal with their condition. In the case of hoarding, it’s usually that the other person simply can’t understand the reason for keeping all of the stuff, which can drive a wedge in even the closest relationships.
People with obsessive conditions tend to be overly-critical of others and may appear to be judgmental or rude when, in reality, they are usually just expressing the anxiety that is related to their condition. In relationships, this can put a strain on everything, from intimate connections to everyday life, and even parenting when the criticisms are aimed at or expressed in front of the children.

Accommodating or Enabling?

Several spouses and family members of those struggling with OCD, hoarding disorder, or some type of eating disorder will inadvertently make the situation worse or at least not help things by accommodating their loved one or trying to ensure that they are placated to avoid outbursts, conflict, stress, or other upset both in the individual and in the relationship.
While this might seem like an effective way to cope with someone who has these conditions, it’s not going to do anyone any good. It will allow the person to continue their rituals and habits without seeking help to resolve their condition or get treatment.
It will also create a lot of resentment and anger in those who are “putting up with” these compulsions or accommodating the person who is exhibiting symptoms and behaviors of obsessive conditions.
People often accommodate those with OCD and other compulsive disorders by:

  • Putting up with unclean, unsafe, or just plain unusual conditions in the home due to the OCD or hoarding disorder
  • Make excuses or lie for the individual affected by covering for them when they miss work or other obligations
  • Giving reassurance to appease the negative obsessive thoughts
  • Helping to complete compulsions or encouraging ritual activity as a means to self-soothe
  • Waiting until compulsions or rituals are completed, regardless of how much time it takes or what the circumstances are
  • Making decisions or doing things for the person with OCD or compulsive mental health disorders because they are unable to do it themselves
  • Providing the person with items to enable their compulsions and negative habits, such as buying excess cleaning products to quell their compulsive cleaning habits

It might seem like you are helping someone when you allow their behaviors, even if you somehow structure or limit them a little. However, all that you’re doing is encouraging them to continue with the same unhealthy behaviors and not seek treatment to find solutions that are healthy and effective.
If someone finds themselves taking on additional responsibilities, making decisions, avoiding talking about important topics, or even making excuses for their partner, it isn’t going to end well for anyone involved.
That’s why you need to realize that this is, in fact, a disorder and that there is help available. It should be about finding the right treatment, not just enabling the person to live however is least disruptive for them. Indulging conditions like OCD, hoarding, and eating disorders are only going to serve to make them worse.

Divorce as the Catalyst- How obsessive compulsive disorder may affect your divorce

There are many reports that people often develop eating disorders and other obsessive conditions as a result of the stress that comes from divorce, or see their existing conditions worsen. Just as these conditions can impact relationships and lead to divorce in the first place, they can also become a symptom of the process and create further difficulties, whether or not they were present before.
There are plenty of articles on the impact of divorce and how it can lead to eating disorders, both in men and women alike. In some cases, teens and children of couples that divorce are the ones that will develop OCD or an eating disorder as a result of the event. Stress has its own impact on everyone and those who are predisposed to mental health disorders like OCD and hoarding should not be surprised if these conditions present during or after the divorce process.
Divorce is a big period of loss for people. They feel insecure and often as if they have failed. They may feel like they have no control over their lives and that their actions have resulted in the unhappiness of others. Often, people feel like they “can’t do anything right” or that they are somehow unlovable because their partner wants a divorce.
False emotions can cause a lot of issues in the divorce process for those who struggle with OCD, eating disorders, and hoarding. All of the stress and drama can fuel the negative thoughts and encourage further obsessive behaviors as a means to self-soothe and deal with the stress.

Celebrity Examples

Katy Perry

Katy Perry is notorious for her struggles with the media and paparazzi, but she’s also one that suffers from OCD that affects every aspect of her day-to-day life. Perry reports that she is a germaphobe who has “crazy cleaning rituals” that she follows. She also reports needing order and having tendencies toward organizing things alphabetically or otherwise habitually rearranging and cleaning things.

David Beckham

Soccer star and famous Spice Girl husband David Beckham struggles with the rituals of OCD and has for his life. He reports that he’s tried to stop the behaviors on his own, but it hasn’t been effective. Beckham’s need is to have things in straight lines or pairs, and when he attempts to avoid these habits, he finds himself succumbing to other self-soothing behaviors.
One of those includes his own self-proclaimed addiction to the pain of getting new tattoos. For some, this could be therapeutic, but for Beckham, it’s almost an escape, according to what he has told interviewers in the past.

How obsessive compulsive disorder may effect your divorce

Tools and Tips for Managing These Conditions Through Divorce and Beyond

If you or your soon-to-be ex are struggling with OCD, hoarding, or eating disorders, several different things could be going on. Divorce and separation are stressful, taxing experiences. If the individual with OCD or hoarding disorder doesn’t agree with the split, it can become even more harrowing and confrontational in many instances.
Fortunately, with the right plan and insights, you will be better able to prepare for your divorce hearing or custody case and know that even with disorders like OCD, eating disorders, and hoarding, there is hope for getting through the process relatively unscathed.
Here are some of the most useful tools and tips to keep in mind to help you manage your own or your soon-to-be ex’s mental health issues during a divorce or other family law case or relationship separation.

  • There needs to be a treatment plan in place. No matter who is facing the condition, not having a treatment plan or seeking proper care could cause the courts to intervene and rule in the other partner’s favor.
  • Part of that treatment plan should include having a therapist available and on-call for emergencies and stressful situations that arise to help avoid further negative behaviors or worsening of the symptoms.
  • Those who are dealing with someone else’s obsessive condition should consider finding a support group for loved ones and family members. Even an online group could go a long way in creating more understanding and making the process easier for everyone involved.
  • Always work with a qualified family law and divorce attorney that is familiar with mental health conditions and how to handle them throughout the process. This will give you the peace of mind that things are under control, even when you feel like you don’t have much control of your own.
  • Remember that if you are dealing with someone with these conditions, you don’t want to enable their behaviors to a point that is unhealthy. Instead, encourage them to seek help and offer support in healthy ways, such as providing an alternative for them when they feel like indulging in a compulsion.
  • Be mindful of the situation and do what you can to reduce the stress for everyone involved. As long as you’re aware of the situation and have a good lawyer on your side, it will be a lot easier for you to get through the process, whether you’re the one dealing with the obsessive disorder or it’s your soon-to-be ex that has OCD or other compulsive conditions.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, and its family of related conditions, is one of the most challenging for many people. Now that you are armed with more information, though, it should be less stressful for you to get through a divorce when dealing with these conditions.

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