Bipolar disorder is an illness that brings with it emotional highs and crushing emotional lows. The roller coaster ride is tough enough for the person with the illness, but spouses get taken along on the ride as well. How can you prevent the symptoms of a spouse’s illness from causing damage to your marriage? Thankfully, many marriages can and do overcome the challenges of bipolar. Here are some ways to protect your relationship when your spouse is living with bipolar.
1. Remind yourself that the illness is not the person. You married a person and that person is still present.
2. Find your own support system. You give a lot of support to your partner, but you need it too. It may be a support group, your pastor, a therapist or a close group of friends.
3. Create some space for yourself. Having a job or hobby which can remove you from the situation for short periods is helpful and maintains healthy perspective.
4. Insist on medication compliance. This is a common point of contention in marriages, but find a positive way to keep your partner faithful to the regimen.
5. As hard as it can be during some periods, keep the dialogue between you going. Ask your spouse what they feel they need from you. Let them know how you are feeling. Good communication is a vital part of every healthy marriage.
6. Bipolar Disorder isn’t only extremes. There are periods of evenness in between. Stay alert to what triggers the times of stability.
7. Laugh – as often as you can.
Marriages where one spouse has bipolar can be strong, but it requires added effort. If your spouse has the condition, look for support at Family Guidance. You can learn more about your spouse’s illness and meet other spouses in the same situation.