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Wife is sliding ever deeply into OCD. Please help!



Apr 22, 2021
Los Angeles
Hi guys!

I'm new to this forum, but I'm in desperate need of help/suggestions. I have a wonderful wife with whom we've been married for over three years now (after living together for almost a decade).

As far as I can remember, she has always had an OCD side, that in moments of clarity she claims to have started around high school. She even had to be homeschooled for a semester at the time because of this. She suffers from anxious thought-loops, is ever more obsessed with cleanliness, washes her hands and wipes down surfaces constantly, etc.

It would be convenient to say that the situation has deteriorated thanks to Covid, but I think that would only be partly true. In fact her most significant rituals (like wiping down with disinfecting towels anything that comes in from outside the house, including groceries) mostly predate the pandemic. Undoubtedly Covid did make things worse, as she now has an excuse for her behavior: she has always been right, and finally the world is catching up to her.

And this is the most troublesome part to be honest: while previously she had moments of clarity, in which she conceded that what she is doing is obsessive, it doesn't make sense, but she claimed has to do it because otherwise she would "go nuts". But now she slid back into complete denial: telling me that I'm wrong, what she does is entirely justified, I just can't understand her because I've always been a slob, growing up in a family of slobs.

I have tried to suggest -- very delicately -- that we find a therapist, because it is possible to achieve significant improvement, but she becomes incredibly aggressive when it comes to this problem. In later fights she repeatedly threw this in my face: how insulting it is that I think she's crazy and that I want to "institutionalize" her, when there is absolutely nothing wrong with her. She has entrenched herself in this position from which she won't budge, however tactfully I try to talk about it.

Previously I have only suffered because of all the time and energy I wasted in trying to fulfill all her rules and rituals... I felt selfish for this, for wanting to get out of it. But after reading that an accomodating environment makes this even worse, I can't help but also feel guilty about the fact that I may have contributed to this downward spiral over the years. I am not a confrontational type, so now I blame myself because I have accepted her obsessions and been a partner in her rituals, in order to keep the peace at home and calm her down. Whenever I tried to resist, she goes in such fits of rage that I feared she might hurt herself or those around her... Coming home exhausted after a long day at work, I honestly didn't have the energy to always fight her on this.

Did I cause harm in the long-term this way? How could I steer her towards seeking help? Do you have any tips or personal experiences with a loved one to share that could help me?


New member
Apr 22, 2021
As someone who now suffers with OCD myself and has grown up with a father who suffers with the same OCD symptoms as your wife, I can understand your situation.
My father has the same type of OCD around cleaning and germs. It is a very difficult situation as many suffers can get very angry when their compulsions are interrupted and questioned.
I also want to make very clear that you should not blame yourself as you obviously love her and have her best interests in mind. In my experiences, it was very difficult to talk my dad to seek help as OCD had really taken over his life. I would say it is important to be very patient with your wife and try understand that even though the things she is doing may seem unnesscary to. you, but to her the fear is real and important. Instead of bringing up a therapist right away as this seems to be very touchy subject, maybe see if she will open up about some of her thoughts and talk about them openly to you, this is a big step for her to open up and maybe start to realise these are actually irrational thoughts.
In regards to the actual compulsions, understand that it would be impossible for you not to help her with them from time to time - this is nothing to feel guilty abouT. Some people perform compulsions many times a day, and sometimes helping with them can't be avoided. When she is in a calm state have a conversation about this, and over time you will be able to start challenging her compulsions rather than assisting.
I also understand the idea of therapy is initially a scary thought, but of course reassure her everything is confidential and she obviously has a great support system in you to help her through.

I really hope this helps you, or even reminds you that you are not alone and many others are experiencing issues like yours.
I wish you and your wife all the best!
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