Healing a {Bipolar} Marriage

I read a scary statistic about bipolar marriage. While reading an article on Bipolar Lives I was floored when I read the statistic:

A common – but staggering – statistic that gets bandied about is that 90% of marriages involving at least one bipolar spouse will end in divorce.

My heart literally began to race and a weak anti butterfly feeling in the pit of my stomach developed. At first I thought – how could someone leave someone when they are in the fight of their lives? However I continued to read and look at it from the perspective of the non-bipolar spouse.

I think that article combined with a series of negative back to back events in our marriage made me look at my husband’s perspective. No longer would I look at our marriage through tunnel vision – my perspective. No longer would I take up all of the oxygen. No longer would I hold my my love hostage. No longer would I hold my husband’s love hostage.

I recently read Marianne Williamson’s book,  Age of Miracles.  In it she devotes a whole chapter to setting our love free with our partner and ourselves. In my case my husband. I had let Bipolar and scars of my past turn our marriage into a prison for both of us. An oxygen deprived prison.  Both of us were dying in this marriage and this statistic made it clear a change needed to be made.

We started date nights but that wasn’t enough. We were still just going through the emotions on date night. It played out like this: Dinner, Discussion about kids and work, Home. This was over and over again. I realized I no longer knew my husband and he not me. I was scared to show him all of my changes and instead kept him in the dark and for that matter the love inside of me. Our marriage was in the hell I was in months ago and I knew I no longer wanted that for either of us.

I began reading articles from the perspective of the bipolar partner. Man those people go through hell as well and I hadn’t really thought about it that way. For those of us who took our vows seriously that meant sickness and health. Like a person with a physical illness that the world can see, mental illness needs to be treated the same.

  1. Set up a plan with your partner to make sure you always take your meds. This is huge.
  2. Gather sites, books and articles for your partner to read. They may be in denial or maybe emotionally overwhelmed. You should read as well to find ways to cope and be empathetic to your partner as well. If you’re too depressed now to do it, then put it on your calendar for the weeks ahead to do it when you are baseline or manic.
  3. Express both of your needs clearly and honestly. Get rid of the passive aggressive crap that tends to sneak into marriages.
  4. Look at your partner as a friend and not the responsible party. They should not be expected to be your caretaker but want to. Even though they may have to be the responsible party of the marriage at times they don’t have to have that expectation on them.
  5. Take it day by day. Develop flexibility in the marriage.  I don’t know if tomorrow I will wake happy, sad, bouncing off the walls, angry…so take it day by day. It has been rough but I am now able to express to him when I feel mania or depression is coming so when it does he is prepared. It also helps me cope better and often times now avoid the depression or mania. It’s all about support and understanding sometimes.
  6. Set time aside for just you and I for fun! Unless one of you are sick or in the hospital this should be a permanent date on the calendar. My husband and I take turns planning fun and new adventures. It reminds him of the woman he married.

No marriage looks the same. No love looks the same. However if you come up with a plan for you and your partner and even your friends you will feel your heart and marriage heal. Just remember your partner is human too. When you are feeling good make sure to let them know how much they mean to you. Wrap your partner in love for the days that depression or anxiety may make it impossible to show your love. I can’t guarantee this but we all are meant to learn from each other’s experiences. So take it in, digest it and let it change your life.