People with Avoidant Personality Disorders are hypersensitive to rejection. They are timid, fear criticism, and tend to avoid activities that involve interpersonal contact. They are fearful of saying something considered foolish; often have no close relationships; and are upset at their inability to relate well to others.

People with Dependent Personality Disorders want others to make decisions for them. They require excessive reassurance and are easily hurt by criticism or disapproval. They fear being alone, and are devastated when a close relationship ends. They have a strong fear of rejection, lack self-confidence, and seldom initiate activities or do things independently. This disorder is diagnosed more frequently in females than males.

People with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders are perfectionists who are never satisfied with their achievements. They struggle inordinately with decision making and seldom complete tasks. They often get to focusing on insignificant things that loop over and over again in their minds causing misery and an inability to focus on anything else. They can stand in the toothbrush aisle at the grocery store for an hour trying to decide which $1.50 toothbrush to purchase.

Now, while remembering that God doesn’t intend for every one to marry, and that Paul considered the single life to be best, let me give some advice to those who are considering marriage (1 Corinthians 7:1-8).

The best way to avoid being married to a personality disordered person is not to marry them in the first place! With any potential marriage partner, wait at least a year before getting married. Observe your future partner through all four seasons before you tie the knot. Underlying problems will usually show up some time during the full year.

If you’ve found Mr. or Ms. Right, keep your eyes open. Love is blind. If you see potential problems developing, refuse to give in to the temptation to ignore or minimize them. You will condemn yourself to a life time of trouble and misery when you try to make a good marriage out of flawed, personality distorted material.

One counselee told me that during their engagement period her fiancé pulled a knife out of a drawer and told her that if she ever left him he would commit suicide. She spent over a decade as a manipulated, emotionally and physically abused wife until she finally worked free. She is still in recovery.

Now let me talk about what to do if you suspect that you’ve married someone with a personality disorder.

A correct diagnosis is essential. Only a qualified professional is competent to make a professional diagnosis regarding any sort of mental illness or disorder. Seek their advice and counsel.

Unfortunately, most affected spouses shy away and/or actively resist seeking out a physician for help or diagnosis. What can you do? Personality disorder tests are all over the internet. Take one or two and answer as you’d imagine how your spouse might answer. You will get an insight into the sort of problems with which you’re dealing.

I believe that you have several options open to you if your spouse struggles with one or more personality disorders.

First, don’t immediately use their problem as justification for divorce. Remember that your loved one is often in miserable pain and confusion and can be helped greatly by your compassion and support.

As I consider your situation, I am reminded of all the parents who live with mentally- and/or physically-challenged children. You have seen them at the mall as they push along a complex, high-tech wheelchair which is home to a child who has not at all turned out as mom and dreamed. I see the anguished pain in their faces — and so do you — as they see other children running and laughing and playing while their child sits trapped within a mind or body that doesn’t work properly.