If your spouse has a personality disorder that negatively affects your marriage, you might be wondering if it is a sin to divorce. Personality disorders are characterized by self-destructive behaviors, mood swings and an unstable sense of self. While many such conditions are perfectly manageable, living with someone who has one can mean constant chaos and turmoil.
The most common types of personality disorders include borderline, narcissistic, histrionic and antisocial. The symptoms of these disorders often make it difficult for the individuals to have happy, successful, fulfilling marriages. Although marriages may start out happy, the individual often sabotages them.
So what makes it so difficult for a person with a personality disorder to have a normal, loving relationship? Persons with personality disorders are sometimes incapable of experiencing empathy and other human emotions the same way that other people do.
Here are the most common personality disorders and the symptoms that make relationships difficult:
Borderline Personality Disorder
A person with borderline struggles with rapidly shifting moods. One minute, they are loving and kind and the next minute— angry and violent. Individuals with borderline are impulsive and often irresponsible. They may act out aggressively against others.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder are self-absorbed. They have a total inability to care for and disregard for others. They are not sensitive to the needs of their partners.
Antisocial Personality Disorder
People with antisocial personality disorder lack empathy. They don’t have the same sense of right and wrong that everyone else feels, and may do or say hurtful things to others without any remorse whatsoever. They also tend to be irresponsible and self-absorbed. These factors make it very difficult for a person with antisocial personality disorder to have a healthy relationship.
Histrionic Personality Disorder
Individuals with histrionic personality disorder are attention seeking and extremely emotional. Similar to persons with borderline personality disorders, those with histrionic tend to shift moods rapidly. They are manipulative and seductive, and can exhibit behavior often deemed inappropriate and offensive. Usually, they have trouble with concepts like faith and fidelity.
If you believe that your spouse has a personality disorder, then a correct diagnosis is essential. These disorders must be diagnosed by a competent professional that is skilled in assessing and treating these conditions. But even if a diagnosis is given, you shouldn’t use a personality disorder as a sole reason for a divorce.
Instead, if your spouse has been diagnosed with a personality disorder, then seek the advice of a professional therapist trained in working with persons with these issues. A person that is suffering from a personality disorder is often in severe emotional pain and deserves compassion – just as Christ would command.
If your spouse is resistant to seeking help, then you should still speak with a professional counselor yourself. Unlike other mental health issues, personality disorders cannot be cured. People with these disorders develop the symptoms over the course of their lives and the symptoms last. The reason for this could be that the traits of these disorders are interwoven into a person’s brain chemistry. However, that is not to say that they cannot be treated. If a person wants treatment and is motivated, then there is hope. God allows and engineers trials for specific purposes. The troubles in your marriage may serve a purpose.
As far as divorce goes, if your situation is not too severe or threatening and your spouse truly wants to save the marriage and is willing to get help, then you may dedicate yourself to staying married and supporting your spouse in managing the disorder.
However, it is important to understand that individuals with personality disorders can be quite destructive to themselves and others. They can harm both you and your kids. So, if you or your children are being emotionally, physically or sexually abused, then immediately get out of the relationship.
If your spouse has abused you or your children or broken your marriage vows, he or she has already invalidated the marriage. You are not sinning by leaving them. In fact, as a Christian, it is your job to protect your children, and you are doing so by leaving your abusive spouse. Don’t let anyone criticize your decision to leave your spouse if a personality disorder has caused them to become violent.
Seek the assistance of a professional domestic violence organization like the National Domestic Violence Hotline to help you plan a way to get out safely. Leaving your spouse is not something that you want to do on your own as individuals with personality disorders can become dangerous to themselves and others especially when faced with stressful situations like divorce.
~ 1776 Christian