How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Dr John B Your Own Question
Dr John B
Dr John B, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 557
Experience:  PhD in Clinical Psychology, registered clinical psychologist.
Type Your Mental Health Question Here...
Dr John B is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Not sure if Im married to an OCPD sufferer, but my husband has distanced himself fro

This answer was rated:

Am I married to an OCPD sufferer? My husband has distanced himself from me almost completely. He says he will spend time with me only "on his terms." That means, eat when he eats, sleep when he sleeps, do projects together under his instructions, travel on his time schedule, doing his chosen activities. If it does not go his way, he is not interested. Trying to figure out if he is simply demanding... or more. When we go on a trip to our vacation home, there is a schedule that he MUST maintain, if I am 30 minutes late to get in the car, it has ruined his day! This is on vacation with no particular event to attend -- Vacation (and every day, we're retired) involves WORK, painting the dock, re-roofing, trimming trees, his only relaxation is at sunset, when he has a drink and I must be there by the time the sun is setting or I have ruined his "Bonding time" with me -- no matter if I need a shower, or a nap, etc. He shows no extreme anger, simply says we are incompatible and remains distant, spending ALL his time working in the yard or shop or orchard. He is frugal to the max, will eat spoiled food rather than throw it out!


Sorry to hear of the situation. The behaviors you describe certainly could be part of an OCPD presentation, would you like me to go through the diagnostic criteria with you one by one and we can see if you think he meets them?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Okay, I've read them online and he does not satisfy all of them, but if you think it would help, yes.

Probably best if I don't tell you things you already know, so if you feel he doesn't meet all the criteria then we can probably assume that is the case (spouses usually have excellent insight into personality traits).

Whilst PD categories are defined by specific criteria it is certainly not the case that people have all or none of the features. In fact, it is probably far more common to have several typical traits rather than meet the full diagnostic criteria.

One thing worth checking is whether he has a history of trauma or has had significant life experiences where conscientiousness, discipline, etc were very, very important?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

His main traits are the intense scheduling, absolute inability to relax, becomes nervous with more than 10 minutes of free time on his hands, saving money for money's sake, can't spend it on himself, counting and categorizing (although he doesn't force this on me), speaks in the same tone whether discussing love, death, or the newspaper delivery. Will not delgate.

He describes his mother as hard as nails, no affection or warmth from her. Only attention he got was being slapped with kindling for misbehaving (he's never said if he was actually abused or this was just a generational difference wherein corporal punishment was accepted), says he felt alone as a child, constantly tried to please her (working all sumemr at 14 to earn money to buy her a silver set and she said 'thanks'). Says she had no compassion and admits he has little himself.

Do these traits interfere with him getting things done? For example, does the writing of schedules prevent them from being carried out? Can you give me some examples of the counting and categorizing?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

No, he is productive, but saving money by fixing things himself seems to rule (even if in the long run it would be cheaper to have purchased something new and saved weeks of work).

He says he 'counts' everything inside his head -- maybe just a quirk? Has all his nuts and bolts in workshop sorted (useful, I guess) but has 7 drills, 6 of them non-functional, but won't throw them away. These things are all fine for him, I suppose, but I suffer when his imposed schedules and rules must be followed by me, or else he'll simply stay at our second house.

We have a trip planned -- fuisrt in a long time, and I think it is a "a test" for me to see if I can sync up with his way of doing things. Is there something I should be looking for when we take those 3 trial days away?

I'm tenacious, love him, and want the marriage to work -- he'd rather be alone if I can't manage not to disrupt his 'lifestyle'. I don't want to give up... but I think he is waiting for me to do so... keeps suggesting I move away to son's town and he'll stay in our home.

Hi Kathy,

My sympathies really do go out to you, it sounds like a very challenging situation. I must say that your description does sound quite consistent with the OCPD type presentation, even if he doesn't meet full criteria. Just to check.....he has always been this way right? It never varies?

One of the really difficult things with Personality Disorders (or strong tendencies that come close to diagnosis) is that they tend to be extremely you no doubt know well. In cases of OCPD the need for order & control can override almost everything else in life. When you ask is there something to look out for, do you mean is there something in particular he will be trying to 'test' you with?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX this way. The rigidity is plain, but he did a good job masking it during our courtship. And yes, the "test" question is as you interpreted. I am willing to cooperate with his needs for control and order, but often I only hear how I've failed to do so after the fact. He is exceedingly polite at the time, seethes,later explains I've ruined a Hawaiian vacation because I was not "ready for sunset" 4 times out of 7! Perhaps, I should plainly ask him every now and then, "Are things going along as planned? Are you feeling comfortable?"

If what you are seeing is related to strong OCPD type traits then unfortunately he is unlikely to change his ways. As I mentioned it is the rigidity and inflexibility of these kinds of traits that causes th individual (and those around them) trouble.

How long have you been married? Is this becoming more of a challenge recently or are you getting to end of your patience? Has he always threatened separation and do you believe he would separate?

It's usually impossible to accurately predict a specific person's behavior based on theoretical guidelines (especially via just Answer) but from what you have described I would perhaps expect that he just going to do exactly what you have stated: set a rigid schedule that he wants and see if you can meet it. If this is all OCPD in nature then the 'need' on his behalf should be the ability to maintain his order and schedule (with the continuation of the marriage secondary to this being fulfilled).

The OCPD individuals I have worked with in the past have been very concrete in nature so it might well be a good strategy to simply ask him if things are as he wishes. I could totally understand if this is something you weren't particularly interested in doing over the longer period.

Just a point worth noting: if he does have strong OCPD tendencies then any situation where he is away from routine and in less control is likely to cause him increased anxiety and evoke stronger behavioral patterns.

I would imagine a trip away would be one of those situations.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you -- I will be especially aware during this time. Just about at the end of my rope after 12 years. It's difficult to take his criticism, I end up feeling personally responsible for his feelings of disappointment and discontent.

Your insight has been valuable -- I'd rate it Excellent -- not sure how to do that? Should I just sign off? Thanks again!

You are very welcome. You should be able to make a rating now. Good luck with him. Try to remember that if it is OCPD traits then you are in no way responsible for his unhappiness......that unfortunately is all down to his personality style.
Dr John B and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Hi Kathy,

I hope you're having some luck with your husband. If I can be of further help, or if you ever have other questions in the future, please don't hesitate to contact me directly. You can do this by simply putting "For Dr John B" at the start of any question you post.