Bitch is an understatement. When I am depressed with anxiety or paranoia, it is no picnic. Since medication is currently ineffective, “others” that are close to me need to be highly EDUCATED on the illness, my stress triggers and my symptoms of mania, depression or mixed episodes. Communication is ALWAYS a problem because my perception of anything is usually different from yours. Emotions will always be expressed with a bit more passion and my sensitivity level tends to stay on the high side. These traits are part of the bipolar illness, but don’t have to ruin all relationships if all parties did their share to cope and research…………… I need to have hope but with certain circumstances and ultimatums thrown in my face that hope is diminished.
The challenges of being married to a person with a mental illness or disorder are often made considerably worse during the divorce process-Read more:
Most relationship problems can be resolved with five questions: What am I not facing? What truths have I not spoken? What have I been blaming others for that I need to own responsibility for creating? What choices do I need to make? What actions do I need to take?
Mental Illness or not, these are red flags for anyone………
Signals of impending divorce
No Conflict Resolution
The noted researcher John Gotman has argues that it is not lack of communication that sinks a marriage but, rather, lack of effective conflict resolution. Couples who have not evolved a way to resolve differences without injury to the relationship end up avoiding disagreement and conflict. One or both has arrived at a point of despair that it is pointless to try to resolve a difference with his/her mate. It may be that one or both are simply conflict avoidance. Or one or both may regard every conflict as a fight to be won by bullying the other into submission. What matters is that someone has given up. Differences are submerged resulting in a loss of respect, increasing distance and gradual withdrawal.
Emotional engagement is a minimum requirement for the development and maintenance of intimacy. Willing discussion of feelings, one’s own feelings and the other’s feelings are a part. Interest in the emotional life of the other and empathic engagement of each other’s emotional life all constitute the required elements for an intimate relationship.
Emotional engagement is generally accompanied by the withdrawal of affection. If your wife has disengaged emotionally from you she probably doesn’t feel much love for you. Divorcing people commonly say that “they have fallen out of love.” And depending on how sour the relationship has become one or both probably don’t like each other very much
Lack of Sex
Sex both expresses and reinforces emotional connectedness. When a couple has not had sex in a long time it is usually a reliable indicator that emotional disengagement is advancing steadily. It is yet another indicator that the partners take no pleasure in each other and that the bonds are rapidly eroding if not already in a terminal state.
Increased Focus outside the Marriage
Empty marriages are very boring. Some couples compensate by pouring themselves into their children so that child centered activity becomes the sole content of family life. Others pour themselves further into careers working late every night so the time with the other is minimized. And as emotional satisfaction is sought exclusively outside the marriage the probability of an affair soars. The majority of affairs I see in my practice have started with a coworker who takes an interest and is fun to be with.
Preparation for a Single Life
I recall a couple I worked with many years ago in which the husband, as part of his planning for the coming divorce, took a second mortgage on he house to pay for a hair transplant to improve his dating prospects. Although this was a bit extreme it is typical for the initiating spouse to begin preparing herself or himself by getting in shape, losing weight, attending to hair and wardrobe and other things to enhance appearance. And particularly with women who have stayed home we often see a new interest in refreshing or acquiring a career to be less dependent on the earnings of the husband. We also will often see the initiator taking up an activity such as tennis or golf without involving the other spouse and generally beginning to build a social network as a single rather than as a couple.
|Differentiating- In this stage, partners begin to stress the “me” instead of the “we.” In other words, the individuals begin to assert their independence. They may develop different hobbies or activities. The relationship may continue to dissolve, or this stage may be a warning sign that the couple needs to address their relationship status.|
|Circumscribing: Communication between the couple diminishes during this stage. They tend to avoid certain topics of discussion. Outwardly, the couple appears normal. At this stage, attempts can be made to discuss the relationship and return it to a positive state.|
|Stagnating: During the stagnating stage, the individuals avoid discussing the relationship because they think they know what the other will say. Others begin to take notice that something is wrong.|
|Avoiding: The pair begins to physically separate themselves during the avoiding stage. The individuals try to reduce the opportunities for discussion.|
|Terminating: This is the final stage of the relationship. Termination may come naturally, such as at the end of the semester when roommates move out, or arbitrarily, through divorce. Termination of the relationship can occur positively or negatively.|
Some coping techniques for spouses of bipolar sufferers
- You may dearly miss the person you fell in love with. Keep in mind that with proper treatments and your support, that person will come back to you
- Find your own therapist. You may need a professional to help guide you through the hard times
- Look for a support group for partners of bipolar sufferers. If there isn’t one in your area, consider starting one
- Go with your spouse to a few of his/her therapy sessions and talk to their therapist. Ask questions, listen to the therapist’s conclusions or views of your spouse’s care. Try to be interactive in their care rather than inactive. Don’t be overwhelming, though.
- Find time for yourself with such things as hobbies, walks, jogging, sports, and writing. Sometimes it helps to vent a bit of frustrated energy. You can go for a vigorous walk and clear your head.
- When your partner is in a healthy mental state, talk to them about your needs and hurts. Don’t be confrontational, don’t blame, just gently tell them how you feel about things from your perspective.
- Remind yourself continually throughout the day that there will be better times ahead. Make it a mantra.
- Allow yourself to reminisce about the good old times when you were both happy and give yourself hope that the good times will come again. Look through photographs of better days, read old love letters and watch family videos. Spend time with the kids talking about funny family stories.
- Research and find reading material about mental illness. Get to know what you and your spouse are battling against.
- View your spouse’s illness as something you both have to fight as a team.
- Help monitor your spouse’s medication so that you can be aware they are taking the prescribed medications or not. You don’t have to be a nazi about it, just let them know you are keeping track.
- If you have family, spend time with them.
- If your spouse is hospitalized, ask family and friends to help out with the children, housework, cooking, and even with visitation. Ask for help, this is very important.
- Treat yourself ever so often. Allow yourself to sleep in one day a week or take a long, hot bath.
- Have a good cry once in a while. You don’t always have to be the strong one.
- When your spouse is enjoying good mental health, spend pleasurable time together. Go on a date. Spend time with the children. Go for walks, etc.
- Try not to take unpleasantness personally. It is not your fault that your spouse is depressed or suicidal for that matter. They may be emotional powder kegs ready to blow at any moment, irritable beyond belief, even spiteful. You must remember that most of the time it is the illness talking, not them. I know, this is easy to forget.
- Learn to relax when you don’t have to be on guard. If stress is physically manifesting itself as back aches, sore and stiff muscles, or general aches and pains, consider going to a massage therapist.
- Let the people around you know when you are going through an especially trying time. If possible, take some time off work.
- Don’t argue with your spouse when they are in a deep depression or manic. It is of no use. They will not be able to see your point of view and it will just cause more tension for everyone.
- If your spouse is hospitalized, talk to their nurses about their progress. It is a great way for you to get daily updates on your spouse’s condition.
- If it is hard for you to visit a hospital, ask if you can have an off ward pass for a few hours. Take your spouse to a nearby park or restaurant and visit with them there.
- Don’t have high expectations of someone in poor mental health. You are setting yourself up for disappointment.
- Do not turn to drugs or alcohol to take away your pain and frustrations. You need to be strong for you and your spouse’s welfare.
- Laughter is always good medicine. Rent a few comedies one evening and invite a few good friends to come down and watch them with you. Laugh.
- If you have become so resentful and angry at your spouse that you have begun to experience marital problems, consider visiting a marriage counselor when the spouse is mentally stable.
- Don’t blame everything on your spouse. It is not their fault that they are ill.
- Don’t blame everything on yourself. That is not fair.
- Try to focus on what is best for both of you.
- Don’t get muddled up with all that is wrong with your spouse. Instead, look for the person trapped deep inside, the one you dearly love.
- Sit down and take stock of your life, what is important and what is not.
- There are a lot of motivational self-help books out there. Go find a few and read them.