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Wife - overwhelming contamination OCD

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Hi all,

I really need help. My wife suffers from contamination OCD and it’s taken over our lives - this was with her before Covid but things have now hit a whole new level.

It’s particularly difficult as a lot of things she does are explained away by saying ‘but I don’t want to get Covid’ - and lots of these things seem to be done by plenty of people (eg wiping down shopping or changing and showering after I’ve been to the supermarket). But there’s so many things that go beyond run of the mill Covid protection. We now can’t leave the house until she’s anti-bac wiped the front door - there are certain cupboards in the house which she sees as dirty because they contain shoes - she won’t let our boys play in the garden until she’s hosed it all down - if I need something from the shed she’ll see my clothes as dirty and won’t rest easy until I’ve showered and she’s wiped where I’ve stood etc. Over the summer I was doing some landscaping and general maintenance in the garden over the course of some weekends - each day she would insist I eat lunch outside and only come in at the end of the day and then head straight to the shower - she would then wipe down every where I’d walked.

She has now got into unhelpful habits - every evening she has to wipe down the kitchen cupboard and sides two or three times even if we’ve not left the house. She can spend an hour each evening cleaning the kitchen sides.

She’s only left the house a few times since Covid started and those were mostly to go to her mums house with our young kids (her mum has OCD tendencies but no where near like my wife’s) - my wife is always more relaxed at her mums house and never worries about the same things as she does here.

These are only a few of the ways in which she sees things as dirty. I’d be here all night if I listed everything she does in detail.

My wife tried CBT 12 months ago but it didn’t do anything for her - she’s really hesitant to try prescribed medicine.

I’ve been involved in the cleaning routines as over the years we had so many arguments about whether stuff was dirty or not. I’d say I’m a hygienic/tidy/clean individual - perhaps even more so than my wife. This is less about stuff being logically/scientifically/evidently clean - it’s about whether my wife perceives things to be clean. As I say, I mostly got involved in the cleaning routines to avoid arguments - After a while I realised that I also didn’t want her to feel like she’s alone in this. But now I feel trapped and feel like I’ve given everything I’ve got - not an hour of the day goes by where I’m not scared I’m going to be told off for touching something dirty or go out of my way to see things how she does. I’m exhausted - my wife’s exhausted. Right now for me work is tough, money’s tough, parenting is tough and lockdown is tough - but nothing in my life holds a candle to how tough dealing with OCD has become. 

I’m now struggling to see that things will ever change and our family feels likes it’s falling apart.

Has anyone out there survived this? 



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🙁 this sounds though and thank you for sharing. In our home roles are reserved and I am the OCD sufferer, mainly contamination. I can't imagine how hard it must be to you. 

During lockdown I anti-baced parts our garden... 

I digress my husband watched one of the presentations for partners/friends/family members with OCD at the OCD UK conference last week and found it really helpful. I will pop the link in and look out for others coming up. She also has a book which I got for my husband to read. 



I would suggest read what you can to support her and check out the Covid resources on the main website. 

There are many reasons the therapy didn't work first time but it doesn't mean it never while. 

It must be exhausting for you too. 

Edited by Lollipop
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Hi @AJC91,

Sadly a lot of what you say sounds very familiar. My wife's OCD dominated our lives for 3-4 years and very nearly caused our marriage to end. It's a (very) long story but we gradually have found ways through and, although its still not ideal, her OCD now controls everything much less and we can live more like a 'normal' life. I am in no way an expert - other than by unwanted experience - but very happy to share our experience with you if it would be useful. Feel free to direct message me.

In solidarity and understanding...

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Hi, only one humble suggestion. The media (TV etc) is saturated with Covid related stories/back stories at present. Might be a suggestion to work together and agree to lessen /limit the exposure at this time. Ironic that CBT employs some sort of exposure therapy, but, reading your post, i think its too early for that. Stress reduction/coping is a must at these times and the media exposure only serve, at present, to induce more anxiety, especially with contamination OCD sufferers, just a thought, Phil

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