I’m currently engaged, but not without some level of anxiety. I recently read online that a whopping 90% of marriages involving a spouse with bipolar ultimately fail.
What advice can you give me to minimize the risks?
Well, you’ve certainly asked one of the most challenging questions I’ve ever answered! And it’s definitely one of the great all time questions for the ages and quite possibly the Universe as well.
OK, just so we’re on the same page this seems like a very complex question and it is in that it’s in regard to an extremely life changing event for you. However, in many ways you’re impending wedding and marriage isn’t really All that different from many other couples upcoming wedding and marriage.
I’m sure you’re either a bit confused or thinking “okaaay maybe she doesn’t quite understand the question”. That’s ok I’m used to people questioning my judgment and decisions all the time……..remember we are all Bipolar as well and have faced many of these challenges in our own lives’ or know someone else who’s Bipolar and has faced and experienced these challenges. Most of us have “been there done that” because that’s what this great page and site is about……”WE GET IT” …….( *shameless self promoting plug for our site* ).
Please!! Do not mistake my light hearted humor as not taking your question seriously. I (we) take all the questions we receive very seriously. I’m just trying to lighten the mood a bit to ease some of your anxiety, because I do understand what you’re going through, the roles are just reversed……I was just recently married myself and I’m the Bipolaree so I definitely picked my husband’s brain before we were married and then again for this question.
Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty of it all so I can answer your question then give you some guidance and resources to help lessen some of your anxiety and give you and your fiancé’ the best possible chance at making this marriage work.
Let’s get some statistics out of the way first. There are many couples whose situation involves no mental illness and their marriages fail for a multitude of reasons. I did a little checking myself on statistics before I got married and the variances in the percentages ranged from 40% to 90% as you found. Now what’s interesting is that they weren’t that different from statistics for couples with no mental illness involved. I live in California and our divorce rate is 50% – 70%. (By the way this the 2nd marriage for my husband and myself & my 1st marriage ending had absolutely NOTHING to do with my Bipolar)
I’m sure you’re pretty aware that there are rarely any guarantees that a marriage will survive. Now with that not so encouraging statement, let’s go over some pro-active measures you and your fiancé’ really need to consider and do. To be honest ALL couples could benefit from some of the measures I’ve listed. However, my main focus is you and your fiancé. I want to give the two of you the best possible chance of making your marriage work and be successful.
To start off, I’m going to give you a mini quiz to get a feel for where you’re at, so to speak in your relationship. I’m going to give you the answer I feel (and know from experience for the most part) is correct. Please don’t take offense to some of these questions because I have no way of knowing this information.
Ok here we go…..
© Does your fiancé’ know that you are Bipolar? YES
© Does your fiancé’ accept you…. & the Bipolar? YES
© Does your fiancé’ know/understand any info
about Bipolar? YES
© Is your fiancé’ afraid of you in ANY way due
to you having Bipolar? NO
© Are you medication & treatment compliant? YES
© Does your fiancé’ understand the absolute
importance of your medication? YES
© Have you known your fiancé’ for at least 6
months to a year? YES
© Has your fiancé’ observed/supported you
through any episodes or observed any
© Has your fiancé’ gone w/you to any Pdoc
or therapist appointments? YES
© Have you planned or started a pre-marital
couple’s counseling program w/ your
Therapist or specialist in this field? YES
© Have you and your fiancé’ read any
literature on each other’s role in your
© Does your fiancé’ understand that she
will most likely be your main source of
© Are you & your fiancé friends & IN
love with each other unconditionally? YES
Ok, quiz time over. How did you do? As I said earlier, there are no guarantees with any marriage but I truly believe these steps will get you off to a good start.
As you know, with Bipolar they’re going to be some storms along your journey together so make sure you have a good raincoat, goulashes, a heavy-duty umbrella big enough for the two of you and always have your handy “toolbox” loaded with all the tools you need to cope and support each other. Yes, there will be times when you will need to give her support. The non Bipolar spouse, can at times need reassurance that you are not depressed, anxious, withdrawn……etc, because they don’t love you enough. Spouses can feel helpless at times because they can’t magically make you feel better, try your best to keep that in mind when YOU need to be the support person.
I saved a bit of the best for last……I cannot stress this enough. It is one of the main cornerstones of a successful marriage………
COMMUNICATE WITH EACH OTHER…TALK TO EACH OTHER
DO NOT KEEP THINGS BOTTLED UP INSIDE…BOTTLES CAN
EXPLODE IF SHAKEN HARD ENOUGH!!! SO, WHAT DO YO NEED TO DO?? COMMUNICATE COMMUNICATE COMMUNICATE!!!!!
Also, here are some resources for you …
Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder by Julie A. Fast, John D. Preston
The Bipolar Survival Guide by David Jay Miklowitz
And although it may sound silly, Bipolar for Dummies by Candida Fink, Joe Kraynak – Wiley is pretty good too 🙂
As for non fiction … I’ve really enjoyed Detour by Lizzie Simon and I’m currently about to start Madness by Marya Hornbacher
Oh, And The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath … Excellent Read!
May I also suggest a couple Online Support Groups. This site is phenomenal.
I would also HIGHLY recommend visiting the website or calling your local NAMI. They have awesome resources available as well as classes and workshops to help you cope with bipolar and bipolar family members.
I hope this has helped you in some way and has lessened your anxiety. I wish the both of you the best of luck <3