How do you divorce a spouse who suffers from borderline personality disorder (BPD)? Surviving a marriage with someone that is destructive and unpredictable can be hard enough, but surviving the divorce requires having a plan in place for dealing with your spouse's destructive behavior, need to "win" and desire to play the victim. Here are some tips for dealing with the high-conflict spouse during a divorce.
Understand as much as you can about borderline personality disorder.
People with BPD have poor impulse control and are very intense in their moods. They characteristically exhibit "black and white" thinking, especially where other people are concerned. That makes their social relationships - and romantic ones - highly intense and unstable, because they see other people as either "all good" or "all bad." They often have unrealistic expectations of other people and have an intense fear of abandonment, all at the same time. They can be self-destructive, dramatic, and even violent, but will see themselves as the victim of everyone else's failures and
If you need to see a therapist, that's fine, but spend some time in therapy understanding the nature of your spouse's disorder. The more you know about the disorder, the more likely you'll be able to both predict some of your spouse's behavior and accept that you can't change it.
Recognize that you have now fulfilled your spouse's ultimate nightmare.
You have become, as a result of your spouse's disorder, the "all bad" person in the marriage. Your spouse sees the divorce as the ultimate betrayal because his or her fears of abandonment have now come true.
This means that there is no way to talk your ex into an amicable parting, nor will he or she ever see the divorce as an opportunity for two people who are deeply unhappy together to start over.
Realize that people with
Your spouse is going to see the divorce as an all-out war, for everything, including the right to be considered the "winner" in the divorce. This means that:
- You need an emergency plan. Your spouse could
changedthe locks without warning, or accuse you of domestic violence. Have some place ready to go and get some clothing and cash set aside.
- Separate your finances early, before you announce your plans for divorce. If you have a joint account, open a new one and have your paycheck rerouted.
- Keep a journal. Write down any conflicts, acts of violence, or threats. If other people were present, write down their names. You may need to call witnesses at some point.
- Never admit to doing anything wrong, in or out of court without your lawyer's advice. It's tempting to just accept the blame for the problems in the marriage with the hope that it will satisfy your BPD spouse's anger and need to be right - but doing so could open you up to problem with custody, visitation, and spousal support.
- Keep a record of everything and assume that everything that you say, write or do is being recorded. Keep your emotions out of your communications with your spouse, because even a justifiably angry response to a ridiculous accusation can be twisted and used as "proof" that you were the angry, abusive, or
irrational partnerin this drama all along.
In general, experts recommend that you minimize contact with your BPD spouse as soon as it becomes clear that you're getting divorced. They also recommend that you give up on the fantasy that there can be a collaborative divorce or even an amicable one. To find out more about the law, contact someone like Law Office of Diane F. Russell.