When one of you is OCD about something (who does what follow up)

One of the comments on Thursday’s tip mentioned the situation where some aspect of housekeeping is very important (maybe obsessively so) to one spouse.  The commenter said, “I have tried to suggest to her that if she is the one to whom this matters the most, maybe it could be her “pet project”.” He suggested that it would be easier all around if his bride would take care of that thing in the way that satisfies her rather than trying to get the rest of the family to meet her expectations.

I stated this without the housekeeping chore because I want to look at it in a far wider context. Most of us have a few things that we want to be “just so”, things that bother us if they are not “right”. I speak here from experience; I have more than my fair share of eccentric preferences. In general, I figure it’s my responsibility to deal with those things, and my bride feels the same about her eccentric preferences. However, there are things and situations where it’s not that easy. If I am driven to distraction, or worse, but a cabinet door being left open*, then seeing it open and closing it still bothers me. If my bride feel nauseous when she sees a can upside down in the pantry*, it’s rather rude for me to not care how I put the cans up – or to replace one upside down.

Another factor here is how deeply the person is disturbed by whatever it is. Are we talking mild nuisance, emotional turmoil, or near psychotic break? In addition, who judges how bad it is? I think the person who is bothered judges how bad it is. As long as the list of things that have to be “just so” is short, I figure it’s an act of love, and maybe a bit of a sacrifice, to just behave as if our spouse’s oddities as if they are normal and valid – no matter how clearly they are not.

Just remember, the one who gives more wins!

* Made up examples, really!

3 Comments on “When one of you is OCD about something (who does what follow up)

  1. Personally, I’m glad you commented on the comment! I was hoping you would, ’cause I wanted to read what you had to say.

    I really couldn’t agree more, as long as the caviat is that the list is short.

    But, OCD is a very serious problem. Been there done that and used to wear the T-shirt proudly for thinking I was ‘teaching’ my children and spouse ‘how to do things right’.

    And was I ever wrong! Gad, what I jerk I was! Thankfully, through holy spirit and my consceince, I came to understand myself better and learned why I behaved obsessively and thus was able to do something about it.

    But, it is still a truth that generosity covers a multitude of transgressions ’cause generosity comes from love.

    And so I agree, if the list is truly short, and satisfaction can be gained for doing these few things ‘right’ for your spouse, then it is not wrong for your spouse to ask for accomodation and expect a good response from you, in proportion to how you would want to be accomodated.

    For hypocricy, expecting something you yourself are not willing to give, has no more a place in a good marraige than so-called, ‘fairness’ has.

    But if satisfaction is not had and the list keeps getting longer, or reactions when things aren’t done ‘right’ are always with negative emotion, it’s time to seek help ’cause there really is a problem here. The voice of experience.

    It’s all a part of being good, just as you were creatd to be!

    • @Eleutheros – Of course full on OCD is a clinical diagnosis, and something that needs the help of a professional. I used the term more loosely, referring to the reality that we are all a bit too invested in a few things. That the list is short is, I think, very important. If the list starts to grow, something is out of balance, and if that balance can’t be restored things will get ugly. I think we each have a responsibility to examine our list and keep it in check. We also have a responsibility to speak up when we see those close to us getting too large a list.

      One thing that makes it easy for my bride and I to hear each other about “your list is getting a bit large” is that neither of us has ever tried to eliminate the other’s list. Her acceptance of a few eccentricities on my part tells me that she is reasonable, and that means I listen if she thinks I have stopped being reasonable.

  2. Thanks for this post. Marriage is all about selflessness and if you know your spouse has a stronger preference about something than you do, then accommodate it. If you’re on the other end of it, selflessness means, if your spouse doesn’t always accommodate it, that’s okay!

    I have to have the sheets perfectly straight and the bed made before I can get into bed or fall asleep, while my wife would be fine if the sheets were always bundled up at the foot of the bed, luckily each night before we go to bed she helps be straighten the sheets just right!

    Funny how selflessness solves all our problems.
    .-= Eric – BHF´s last blog ..Date your Wife! =-.

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