Bipolar divorce occurs in an alarming 90 percent of marriages in which one partner is suffering from bipolar disorder. The most obvious reason for this disintegration is the substantial social morbidity that results from the bipolar individuals maladaptive behavior. Serious social drawbacks associated with reckless behavior like abuse of alcohol or drugs, accidents from excessive risk taking, financial burden from over spending, inability to remain gainfully employed have the potential to unravel even the most loving of relationships.
Of course, the daily interactions of manic-depressives can be a threat to any social relationship, including marriage, as bi polar people have trouble containing their emotions. Their response to a usual joke might be shockingly unexpected (an extreme of elation or depression). A word of mild reproof can bring thoughts of suicide. And so, it is not difficult to link bipolar disorder and divorce. Living with someone having the condition is very stressful and teeming with misunderstandings and conflicts. That is why diagnosis of a spouse with bipolar disorder has been called diagnosis for the couple.
Undoing the link between Bipolar Disorder and Divorce
To break the bond between bipolar disorder and divorce, the healthy spouse has to play the key role. Firstly the partner must believe that it is worthwhile to save the marriage (and the partner). The primary requisite is to understand that the manic-depressive cannot control their feelings. The caring spouse must be prepared to expend high doses of patience, understanding and support to protect the marriage against bipolar divorce.
Well managed long term control of the bipolar symptoms by qualified healthcare professionals can diminish the frequency and severity of manic and depressive episodes and stabilize behavior thereby greatly enhancing the quality of life of the bipolar person, spouse and family. The healthy spouse can contribute enormously by ensuring that treatment is sought whenever necessary and that medication is taken regularly. Any suicidal thoughts, remarks etc must always be taken seriously and reported to the psychiatrist who may suggest some effective drug treatment.
The caring spouse should be a willing listener to partner’s hallucination accounts without fear or judgment no matter how gruesome or unrealistic the details. One important way to lessen the risk of bipolar divorce in a marriage is to learn as much as possible about bipolar disorder or manic depression to be aware of what stresses are attributable to the partner being bipolar and how these could lead to divorce if not adequately managed.
Reminding the suffering partner that he is being loved and cared for helps a lot. Identifying events that trigger episodes of mania or depression is also important. Preventing these triggers would reduce the frequency of episodes and hence result in less social tension. To plan beforehand how to deal with a possible episode will help reduce the embarrassment on both sides. Ongoing emotional support and encouragement in treatment will eventually bring down the connection between bipolar disorder and divorce.
When reality doesn’t meet our expectation with bipolar and relationships its easy to apportion blame but no matter how bad the situation, changes are possible from both sides if the commitment is there to do so. Generally changes for the better from one partner will inevitably bring improvement from the other. Often what is missing is the “what” and “how to” knowledge. Amazingly our preparation for adulthood instills in us the sanctity of marriage but does little in the way of teaching how to hold it all together when things don’t go according to plan. Bipolar divorce prevention strategies are sadly missing from our education.
Bipolar divorce – telling the kids
Despite all the best efforts, some relationships will eventually end in divorce and the heartbreaking task of having to tell the kids. If you feel help is needed try guides like How do I tell the kids This publication has world wide endorsement from therapists, attorneys, mediators, coaches, educators and other divorce professionals.