How To Make a Bipolar Marriage Work

Senior couple fighting

A person with bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) is usually prone to erratic mood swings, shifts in energy levels as well as the inability to perform regular everyday tasks. This type of brain disorder causes a person to do poorly in his job or at school.  Some even have suicidal tendencies.  Maintaining a relationship with a person suffering from bipolar disorder is never easy.  Often times, the disorder goes undiagnosed because it is not easy to spot.

The manic phase can present itself as the person acting irrationally, losing his sense of judgment.  A bipolar husband can become promiscuous, engage in alcohol and drug abuse as well as spend money recklessly.  The manifestation of the depression phase is the sufferer’s withdrawal from anyone and everyone around him.  Both phases of the disorder are depressing as well as distressing for any spouse.

It is definitely not easy to live with a spouse who suffers from bipolar disorder.  Unfortunately, you only discover that your partner has this condition months or years into the marriage.  You would often dismiss extreme changes in behavior as simple mood swings. 

Once your spouse has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, here are some steps you can take to make the relationship work:

  1. Understand the condition.  Arm yourself with the right information.  Read books and research on the internet.  Make sure to talk to reliable medical professionals to validate your research and get more accurate information on the illness.
  2. Avoid the triggers.  Once you know what sets off your spouse’s manic-depressive bouts, avoid them if you can or at least learn to manage them.  Some mood swings are triggered by a messy house, which you can easily address.  Disappointing news can set others off.  Don’t tell him when he is having a ‘bad day.’
  3. Support your spouse’s therapy sessions.  When your husband’s doctor requests you to attend his therapy sessions, by all means, do so.  If you don’t need to attend, still make the effort to at least accompany him to his appointments. 
  4. Join a support group.  Medical professionals and well written books offer a lot of information.  But nothing can compare to the emotional support that partners of other sufferers provide.  Sharing experiences with other spouses, family members and friends of bipolar sufferers can give you a clearer perspective of the situation as well as the strength to face it head on.  Look for local bipolar disorder support groups through your medical professional or check online.
  5. Love yourself.  Being in a bipolar marriage can drain you of your energy.  Take time out to take care of yourself.  Go out with family and friends.  Spend time with yourself in a spa or a self-imposed retreat.  You cannot take care of your bipolar spouse if you don’t take care of yourself.
  6. Commit to the relationship.  Living with a bipolar person can push you to your limits.  But if you truly love the person, be prepared to commit to him and to his situation.  Communicate your love and support as often as you can.  Assure them that you are in for the long haul.

One of the most difficult mental disorders to deal with is bipolar illness.  Not everyone is cut out to support and continue a marital relationship with this kind of strain.  However, with love and commitment, coping with a bipolar spouse is possible and can even lead to a long happy marriage.


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