Q-My husband has OCD and it’s driving me crazy. It’s getting worse, and is in high gear this summer. Some of his quirks are helpful, like cleaning the kitchen top to bottom every night after dinner, but it can also get in the way of us going for a walk or to a movie. He won’t leave until the kitchen is spotless.
He’s as fastidious with the bathroom, but only after he’s finished his morning routine. He wakes up very early to get it all done. Problems arise if someone else wakes up and needs to get in there.
He’s now focused on our bookshelf. He removes every book, dusts, then replaces them daily. If a book is missing, or in the wrong place, he becomes frantic until he either returns it to its rightful place or knows that someone is reading it.
We have three children, still young; the eldest is a tween. I’m worried how this will affect them, how much worse it will become, and how the tween will manage when she becomes a messy teen (it’s starting).
What’s your advice?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition in people of any age. It can manifest in many ways; for example, worrying you left the stove on, and needing to check numerous times before being able to leave the house. Research shows it can be genetic and hereditary, and affects men and women almost equally.
The term is often thrown around casually by people who have a recurring behaviour. But not all habits or rituals are signs of OCD. For example, locking your back door at night – even checking it twice – is not considered OCD. But flicking the back porch light on and off, over and over again, every night at the same time could be OCD behaviour.
I suggest you discuss your husband’s actions with a medical professional and get him to seek help.
Hopefully, a diagnosis of some kind can help your whole family learn to live with whatever is going on with your husband.
My cousin married a lovely woman. Sweet, soft-spoken, shy but really fun and funny when you get to know her. Her brother is the exact opposite: loud, crass, and intolerable. They’re a big family who spend lots of time together, so the brother is often around.
My cousin just bought a house with a gorgeous backyard pool. It’s hot where we live, so the family is constantly visiting. My cousin and his wife are generous and warm, and everyone is polite, respectful and grateful. Except for the boisterous, crass brother.
He talks loudly, constantly, and about inappropriate things that no one wants to hear or discuss. For example, he was talking about “the time when he dropped acid” in front of the teenagers. We had to drag him away pretending we needed him at the BBQ.
I know it’s embarrassing for my cousin’s wife. What can I say to help her?
It’s all Relative
You can’t choose your family, unfortunately, and not everyone is compatible. It sounds like you and your cousin’s wife are close. Take her for lunch and feel her out. If you feel confident she won’t take offence, you can bring up the subject with a strong helpful slant. He’s still her brother and you don’t want her to think you’re trying to oust him in any way.
If she’s open, help her figure out ways to minimize the social damage, for example, inviting him and his family alone to the pool, or just with their parents.
My sister is dating one of my close friends’ brothers. We’re all family friends and have been forever. They have a really good relationship.
My sister and I are really close, but ever since she’s started dating this guy, she’s more distant with me. I asked her why and she said she’s worried that things could get complicated.
I understand it’s all intertwined, but don’t I make the first cut?
I’m her sister!
Yes, in a perfect world, sibling loyalty holds strong and true. But that’s unfortunately not always the case. Many people grow apart from their siblings for various reasons.
I think your sister is just immersed in her new relationship. Show her that you’re genuinely happy for her. Invite her to spend time with you doing something you both enjoy (shopping for back-to-school clothes, walking the dog, going to the gym, etc.) and talk about everything other than her relationship, your best friend, or the brother.
Show her that you’re still just two sisters enjoying each other’s company. She’ll get the hint.