My wife and I have been married over 20 years. We have two autistic young adult children, and she has borderline personality disorder.

Due to BPD, my wife has abused the children emotionally in many ways, threatening suicide, blaming her drinking on them, insulting them, preventing them from speaking and acting independently. I have remained with my wife to protect them, but they are now able to speak for themselves and they have stated they feel able to say they want to remain with me.

So I am able to protect them better by separating from my wife.

My question is: given that she will threaten suicide and emotionally manipulate the children - given, also, that I do not wish her harm, only safety for everyone - should I let her friends, or any common friends, know my intentions? Until now, I haven't, believing that she should be almost the first to know; but letting others know, would both help her find support, and may help minimise manipulation?

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    This is a Q&A site about parenting. Asking about who should or should not inform your soon-to-be-ex's friends about her mental illness has nothing to do with parenting. It is about Interpersonal Skills, however. Try there? Commented May 1, 2023 at 19:19
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    Thanks, have done. The parenting of my two autistic children looms large in this though. (also - I'm considering letting others know of my divorce plans, not her mental illness. That she's ill is plain for all to see)
    – boisvert
    Commented May 2, 2023 at 15:28
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    Oops, apologies! Everything we do looms large when we have children; I can relate. Still, it's a better fit for IPS. Commented May 2, 2023 at 21:26

1 Answer 1


In my experience with people who have BPD there is no good way to announce and then proceed with a major life change that the person with BPD didn't choose.

Based on that, I would suggest that you say nothing to anyone about your plans until moving day, the day that you and your children move to a new home.

It's very kind and caring that you are taking into account not just your feelings or your children's, but also your wife's. However, as a parent you've already identified that you need to protect your children from the fallout of having a mom with BPD.

You can expect that your wife will be very upset, and repeat behaviors that harm your children, so organizing a move that minimizes your children's exposure is a reasonable choice to make.

If it's possible to arrange for someone to be present for the specific purpose of supporting your wife, this would be one way to demonstrate your intention to be kind towards your wife, even as you move to another home with the children.

Your first responsibility is to your children's safety, and in my experience a lengthy transition will not be in the children's best interests, given that their mother suffers from BPD.

I would encourage you to make plans for a transition that's as short as possible, and ideally just one moving day, so that in the span of 24 hours your children can move from a home that's not safe to a home where they are free from abuse.

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    Thank you. I'm not sure your answer is "the only right one", but it is sensible - and you deal openly with the major difficulty that is BPD. I like the thought of having someone present. (NB - to any reader that is shocked - this is the sad reality of borderline personality disorder)
    – boisvert
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 12:00
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    I accept this answer because I believe it's a good one, but that isn't how I'm planning to act in the end - my wife has bought, clandestinely, an independent flat, and informed friends she needed this space to be safe from her terrible husband and daughters. We are working to facilitate her taking this opportunity.
    – boisvert
    Commented May 24, 2023 at 22:41
  • @biosvert, While it's hard to hear what your wife is saying, and doing, hopefully this will lead to a resolution as soon as possible.
    – user42851
    Commented May 29, 2023 at 1:53
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    thanks. Soon now... I suppose I will eventually post an update as an answer, to help know what works. BPD is fast becoming a go-to diagnostic for women that others find difficult (eg. husbands... think of amber hurd). That isn't completely fair. Any reader who knows someone with (suspected) BPD: facilitate competent mental health support. Encourage sufferers to use support and properly trained professionals to work with them.
    – boisvert
    Commented May 29, 2023 at 11:12

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