Berilo, I agree with Pidge that the behavior you describe exhibits most of the classic BPD traits at a strong level. Only a professional can determine whether her traits are so severe as to satisfy 100% of the diagnostic criteria. Yet, even when the traits fall well short of that level, they can easily destroy a marriage and make your life miserable if the BPDer refuses to stay in therapy long enough to learn to manage those traits. I am not a psychologist. Rather, I am just a man who lived with a BPDer W for 15 years. I spent a small fortune taking her to weekly visits over that entire period with six different psychologists and 2 marriage counselors -- all to no avail.
Based on that experience, my advice to you -- if you decide your W has many strong BPD traits and if she refuses to stay in therapy to address them -- is to get an excellent attorney and get your ducks in a row before telling your W you are divorcing her. All hell will break loose when you tell her. Indeed, she may even have you arrested and thrown into jail, as my exW did to me.
We used to get along wonderfully. She was so sweet and thoughtful and supportive. I tried to be the same. We were so into each other. We rarely fought, always made up. We had what I thought was a fulfilling sex life.
That is the way nearly all relationships begin with a high functioning BPDer (i.e., person having most BPD traits at a strong level). Because a BPDer has a fragile and unstable sense of who she is, she will mirror all the best aspects of your personality during the infatuation period, which typically lasts up to six months. The result is that this honeymoon period likely will be the most passionate and romantic time of your life (unless, of course, you subsequently date another BPDer). Both of you will be absolutely convinced that you've met your soul mate.
Move forward a year.... I don’t recognize her any more: she is moody, not so affectionate, and gets angry at me for no apparent reason at all.
When the infatuation evaporates, the BPDer no longer perceives you to be the perfect man who was sent to save her. For this reason, her two great fears (abandonment and engulfment) can no longer be held at bay. They will return, triggering the enormous anger she has been carrying deep inside since early childhood. Because the anger is always there right below the surface, it is easily triggered by an idle comment, a minor infraction, or a glance at another woman lasting one-half second instead of a quarter second. These mood changes, which can occur in 10 seconds, are much different from the typical mood changes caused by depression or bipolar disorder. The latter take a week or two to develop and usually last about two weeks (not the several hours that is typical for BPD temper tantrums).
She says she can’t talk to me any more. When I say let’s sit down and talk now, or sleep together and talk tomorrow, or go away for the weekend somewhere quiet where we can talk, she dismisses this and tells me I “don’t know how to talk”. She then walks away coldly.
In general, it is impossible to sit down and have a calm, rational discussion about a sensitive matter with a BPDer. Trying to catch her in a "calm mood" is usually pointless because, even when you manage to do so, any mention of a sensitive topic will trigger her anger in 10 seconds -- leaving you trying to reason with an angry child once again.
There has been a double standard going on too for some time.
A "double standard" is typical behavior for a BPDer. Because a BPDer's emotional development was frozen at about age four, she never learned how to control her emotions or do self-calming. The result is that she will frequently experience such intense feelings that she will be convinced they MUST accurately reflect reality. This is one reason that BPDers have a strong feeling -- just like four year olds do -- of being entitled to special treatment and privileges.
I think she is a bit of a control freak. We went away for a weekend to another city and spent much of it with some of her friends there... but, when I want to have my friends over for dinner, she protests about the inconvenience.
Because a BPDer fears abandonment, she typically will try to be very controlling of every aspect of her partner's life. This control can be augmented, of course, by isolating you from all your friends and family members (who might not see things her way).
I am utterly shocked by two things in her behavior: 1. How she can find such fault with me and our marriage. From my perspective, nothing had changed much since we met four years ago and got married two years ago.
Berilo, if your W is a BPDer, you must be content to play one of two roles if you want to remain married to her. Both of those roles are dictated by her strong need to keep thinking of herself as a perpetual victim -- always "the victim." Because that false self image is nearly the only thread of a self image she has, she keeps a death grip on it and will not let it go. She therefore needs to have a man around at all times to validate that false self image.
During the 6 month honeymoon period, you provided that validation admirably by playing the role of "savior on a white horse." Because you were the "savior," she by implication had to be the damsel in distress, i.e., "the victim." That's why she told you -- and she really believed it -- that you were far better than any man she had ever met. And, no doubt, she told you that you were saving her from a long line of BFs who had treated her badly.
When the infatuation evaporated, however, you fell quickly from the pedestal and were no longer regarded as savior. Consequently, there is only one remaining way you could validate her false self image of being "the victim." You must play the role of "perpetrator." That is, you must accept blame for every misfortune befalling her, thereby reinforcing her mistaken notion that she is "the victim."
That, in a nutshell, is one reason she is blaming you for everything. Another reason is that, if she is a BPDer, your W does black-white thinking, wherein she categorizes everyone as "all good" or "all bad." Significantly, she categorizes herself that way too. This means that, if she takes responsibility for making a mistake or having a flaw, she experiences a painful feeling of intense shame while she perceives herself as being "all bad."
From the fragments of emails and messages I have now seen, she is complaining to this guy about me, my real and supposed shortcomings.
Like I said, you are "the perpetrator." She therefore is probably describing you in much the same way she described her old BFs to you.
I shake my head at the amateurish, adolescent nature of this affair.... Can't she even be smart about how she has an affair or manages the break-up, or whatever she's doing?
As a group, BPDers don't have a problem with being smart. Indeed, most BPDers I' ve met are way above average in intelligence. Their perception of other peoples' intentions is greatly distorted, however, by the BPD traits. Moreover, their empathy can be greatly impaired much of the time. This is why BPD is called a "thought disorder."
With regard to marital revisionism, I am aghast at the re-writing of our marriage that I think I am beginning to see here.
Yes, it is commonplace for a BPDer to rewrite history. This occurs because her perception of other people is greatly distorted by her intense feelings. Of course, this happens to all of us when we experience intense feelings. When we are very angry, for example, our perception of others is greatly colored and distorted. Because we know this, we usually know we cannot trust our judgement at such times and therefore delay taking action until we have time to cool down. BPDers, however, usually don't wait because -- having the emotional development of a four year old -- they cannot control their impulses very well.
Berilo, if this discussion rings a bell, I suggest that you read more about BPD traits in Blacksmith's thread. My posts there start at Complicated Marriage Dynamic
. I note also that the best selling BPD book (targeted to spouses like you) is Stop Walking on Eggshells
by Randi Kreger. Yet, if you will be divorcing your W, I suggest that you also read another book by the same author which was published just a few months ago. It is called Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Another great resource is the "Leaving" message board at BPDfamily.com -- the largest and most active BPD forum I've found that is targeted exclusively to the partners and spouses of BPDers. At that board, you will get tips and advice from dozens of guys who are going through exactly the same painful mess that you are experiencing. More important, you will get advice from guys who went through the divorce process, which is especially nasty with BPDers because they split their spouses black and treat them like the devil.
Also at BPDfamily.com is a collection of professional articles on BPD. IMO, the best of the bunch is Article 9 at T9 Surviving a Break-up with Someone Suffering with Borderline Personality Disorder - Columbia University, New York
. Take care, Berilo.