Mentally Ill Spouses Benefit from Focusing on Marriage
When mentally ill spouses shift focus onto their marriage rather than themselves, everyone benefits. Giving to your spouse is absolutely necessary to keep your marriage going, no matter how mentally ill you are (Mentally Ill Spouses: Give What You Can To Your Marriage). Before I became ill with bipolar disorder, I was an equal partner in my marriage. After my diagnosis and subsequent medication regiment, it was impossible for me to be the same partner to my husband. But as time went on, I found ways to give to my husband and have a better marriage despite my bipolar disorder diagnosis. I, the mentally ill spouse, did this by focusing on my marriage.
Mentally Ill Spouses and Focus on Wellness Can Be All-Consuming
One of the biggest hurdles to being an equal partner when you have a mental illness is that surviving and treating one's mental illness can be a full time job. It’s easy—and sometimes necessary—to become consumed with self-care and going to doctors' appointments just to stay one step ahead of your symptoms. But all of that self-focus often leaves little room for focusing on anyone else.
As I struggled to simply take care of myself, I realized how little time and energy I was giving to my husband. It was difficult for me to understand why Jack didn’t divorce me and find a sane wife. He certainly deserved a divorce after all I put him through. I was overwhelmed by guilt, which only deepened my bipolar depression and incapacitated me further. The guilt, self-pity, and despair became an endless cycle, focusing my attentions more inward and less on my marriage.
Mentally Ill Spouses Benefit When They Focus on Marriage and the Needs of Their Partner
One day, I realized that no one--not even my loving husband--could withstand a lifetime of a one-way marriage (Caregiver Stress and Compassion Fatigue). He couldn’t operate forever as a caregiver without being loved and cared for like he deserved. Plainly, I knew he deserved more. This man was the love of my life, and I had to do something to try and make him feel like it. So, I started trying to ignore my guilt and self-pity to, instead, focus on what I could do for my husband on a daily basis.When I shifted my focus to looking for ways to give to my husband—no matter the disparity in roles—I found that I had more to give than I thought possible.
Mentally Ill Spouses Benefit by Contributing More to Their Marriages
It may seem impossible to believe you can ever be that same, equal partner to your spouse that you were before your mental illness, but mentally ill spouses benefit from focuses on marriage. You may even discover that your illness gives you more appreciation for your partner (Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, and Marriage). You may realize that you are more able to make your partner feel loved and cared for when you make it your number one priority. Isn’t that, really, what marriage is all about: making your partner feel loved and important?
Stop looking at all the ways you're failing your partner so that you can see the ways you can love him or her, despite your limitations. Mother Theresa said,
"It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving."
Find ways to love your partner, no matter how small. You'll be amazed at how small acts done with great love can impact your marriage.
Arthur, T. (2016, March 9). Mentally Ill Spouses Benefit from Focusing on Marriage, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, March 4 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/mentalillnessinthefamily/2016/03/mentally-ill-spouses-benefit-from-focusing-on-marriage
Author: Taylor Arthur
My husband and I both have mental illness. And we did going into our marriage. I think in a weird way our tendency to be obsessive about each other has strengthened our relationship.
We were together for nearly 6 years before we tied the knot. In all that time we have had a lot of issues that stem from our mental illnesses, but at the same time it has helped us balance each other out too.