"TILL DEATH DO US PART"
BPD and The Marriage Crucible
BY SHARI SCHREIBER, M.A.
This article is for survivors of a relationship that's had toxic consequences for them. It is not intended for anyone with BPD traits! If you suspect you have borderline personality features, what follows could feel injurious to you! Please leave this site immediately and seek alternative web content that may be more congruent with your personal views and needs.
Probably the most heartbreaking aspect of my practice, is hearing from hard-working family men who are married to borderline disordered females. These fellows have taken their wedding vows seriously, and it's never occurred to them to have affairs or leave their marriages--despite of how much neglect or abuse they've suffered.
You must try to wrap your head around the fact that Borderlines do not treat marriage as a new beginning--but rather, an end-game. All their seductive behaviors, their caregiving and affection, their understanding about you and your needs, come to a fairly abrupt halt once you've tied the knot. That sexy Siren you've fallen for could literally shut down the candy store, once she's secured this relationship. By now, you're in too deep to extract yourself--and besides, you're not the kind of guy who breaks his word (no matter what)!
You start thinking that if you try a little harder to please her, that girl you were crazy about will return to you--but it seldom happens. This doesn't mean you won't get a crumb or two along the way, if she wants something from you~ but your needs stop mattering. The Borderline's withdrawal starts out very subtly, but a couple of months into this wedded union, you'll find yourself missing the bliss part. This present reality is so incongruent with your premarital status, it can only be thought of as a fluke--and you'll pass it off as such. As the years go by, you're faced with the dreadful awareness that this 'phase' has become permanent, but it's impossible to leave without incurring severe financial repercussions. There are feelings of 'quiet desperation' you want to escape, yet you don't know how, or where to turn for help.
Without a doubt, the most painful part of this type of coupling, is the shame your partner puts on you for having any needs. When you ask for closeness or intimacy, you're labeled as being "too needy." When you try to have an adult conversation with your partner about your concerns, they might deflect your attempts by consistently making you believe you're not communicating properly or your timing's bad--so that you're feeling crippled at the starting gate!
I've heard from men who've had an extramarital affair with a Borderline. They've phoned me seeking help to recover from that relationship--but it's soon revealed that their wife has these traits too! She may be the less volatile Waif/Martyr type, who is long-suffering, needful, guilting and shaming--but she's got BPD traits just the same. It's a hard pill to swallow, but it's pretty common.
Men don't stray from a primary relationship because there's not enough sex (unless they have BPD features). Men stray, to get their needs for affection and closeness met.
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