When Love Isn't Enough in a Relationship with Mental Illness
Sadly, there are times when love isn't enough in a relationship. There is a song that sometimes plays in my head. It is by Patty Smyth and Don Henley, and it is called Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough. It is hauntingly beautiful, speaking of love and loss, and of when to give up in a relationship. It speaks to when love isn't enough in a relationship.
There's a danger in loving somebody too much;
And it's sad when you know it's your heart they can't trust.
There's a reason why people don't stay who they are;
Baby, sometimes love just ain't enough.
Love is a complicated concept to begin with, and adding mental illness into the picture complicates it even further. Both for the person struggling with mental illness and his/her partner, it can be a rough road navigating this love, and determining when love isn't enough in a relationship is heartbreaking.
Learning When Love Isn't Enough in a Relationship
I have my own story of discovering when love isn't enough in a relationship. I loved my ex-wife very much, and she loved me in return. I met her during a stable and happy period of my life, but a few years after we got married, my bipolar disorder and lack of awareness in how to healthily cope with it dragged me down into a prolonged depression (Men with Depression). Ruth was there with me, by my side, being as supportive as she knew how to be. It wasn't enough. I was drowning. Many days I was unable to get out of bed. She would try to force me up and out of the house, which I know now was the wrong approach, but I was so unaware of my own needs that I couldn't tell her what I was truly looking for in those situations; I didn't even know myself.
We loved each other deeply, but it wasn't enough to save me or our marriage. What else could we have done?
What Do You Do in a Relationship When Love Isn't Enough?
Love is incredible. The Princess Bride calls it the most powerful force in the world. Sadly, though, it isn't the only thing necessary in making a relationship work, especially one with the added factor of mental illness. So what else is needed when love isn't enough in a relationship?
Communication is the most important factor. Always be open and honest with your partner about what you need, what you expect, and what you are feeling. If you don't know, as I didn't, it is fine to say that. Had I been able to communicate that, maybe things would have turned out differently.
It is also key to have outside help, whether from a professional therapist -- individual or couples -- or amateur help from friends, family, support groups, or other sources (Why You Need a Wide Mental Health Support Network). People out there have gone through what I was going through and had I/we had the insight to seek them out, perhaps we would have learned things we weren't able to on our own.
Finally, it is important to recognize that sometimes relationships go through cycles, just as our mental illness goes through cycles. Navigating the lows is hard, and nobody does it perfectly. It is okay to have moments where you don't have the energy to give 100%. In my low, I felt guilty. I wasn't able to be the partner I wanted, to reciprocate the love she gave me, or to express the love I felt. I let that guilt rule my actions. If I had recognized that this was simply a prolonged, deep down-cycle, perhaps I would have been able to move past that to a more healthy place with my thoughts.
Love Wasn't Enough in My Relationship
The songs in favor of love are many. If we listen to those, we would think that all we need is love. But that isn't true. Sometimes, love isn't enough in a relationship, and we must look beyond that on what it truly takes to make a relationship work. I failed in that endeavor, and my marriage failed with me. Hopefully, someone out there can learn from my mistakes and have a different result when love isn't enough in a relationship.
Berg, J. (2018, May 17). When Love Isn't Enough in a Relationship with Mental Illness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 16 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/relationshipandmentalillness/2018/5/when-love-isnt-enough-in-relationship-mental-illness
Author: Jonathan Berg
It's so sad to think that the only answer is to break up when there is so much love there, but I can understand why that would be the case.
Thank you for posting this article to raise awareness and to improve others understanding, I really enjoyed reading it. I'll be around to read more. x