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I am divorcing a BP, but things do not make sense. Do you have answers?

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Updated: February 7, 2007

Question: I am divorcing a BP, but things do not make sense. Do you have answers?

I think that my spouse has BPD. We are getting a divorce and things have only gotten worse. There has been a history of arguing and anger in the relationship - once I even got spit on! Why is it, now that we are divorcing, my partner seems to be obsessed with my comings and goings – even pumping the kids for information about me! Now my partner says he wants to stay together, but I am done. What can I do to make my partner understand? Why can’t the kids just be left alone? This doesn’t make any sense. Please help!

Answer:

Living in a relationship with someone who has BPD can be extremely difficult and conflict-laden. The relationship can take a toll on all those involved, and unfortunately things can drastically escalate during a divorce.

Only a qualified mental health clinician can diagnose, and only after a face-to-face assessment. However, utilizing some of the resources for partners of BP’s can help you make some sense of what is happening, stay emotionally and physically safe, and ensure that your needs are met.

People with BPD tend to have problems with anger. It can seem as if they get angry at nothing in particular and the outburst can be excessive and intense. This can be scary and, at times, dangerous. When your partner is angry, you cannot make it better; you cannot reason with the BP. You can only protect yourself and the kids, while waiting for the anger to work itself out. It is important not to try to apply rational thought to irrational behavior – for example, there could never have been a rational excuse for him having spit on you.

It may be that the divorce is triggering your partner’s issues of abandonment or rejection. BP’s make frantic efforts to prevent people from leaving them. This is especially confusing when you take into account that the BP can make it so hard to stay in the relationship and seem to have pushed you away.

You may also want to talk to your kids and set some guidelines for them regarding reporting on you to your husband. They are most likely in an uncomfortable spot and may need you to help them set boundaries with their parent.

I think it is always good to work with a therapist, even if the therapist’s role is that of "divorce coach." Divorce coaches solely focus on empowering you during the divorce process, while helping you process the difficult emotions that arise. I recommend that if a person is working with a coach, that the coach also be a licensed therapist, and that all therapists and coaches have a strong knowledge base in BPD. Information about finding a therapist and what to look for in a therapist can be found on this site.

I would also recommend that looking into some books specifically on this issue. A book that may be helpful is Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing a Borderline or a Narcissist. It seems that this book is only available through BPDCentral.

Remember that you can gain support from others who are in dealing with similar issues in the BPD forum.

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