Living with a bipolar husband is a challenging experience on its own. But when his mood disorder is compounded with infidelity, the situation can reach a crisis level.

Bipolar disorder is characterized by mood variations from mania to depression and there’s typically plenty of risky behavior in between. One of the worst is the connection between bipolar and cheating– adultery.

Even couples on the brink of divorce who are not facing bipolar issues often arrive there because of infidelity. It’s indeed hard to forgive these breeches of trust. But for bipolar husbands who cheat, the adultery for the spouse is like rubbing salt into an already open wound.

The first question that arises most often is…

“Should I allow my husband to get away with cheating on me because he blames it on his bipolar disorder?”

In other words, is a doctor-approved diagnosis of bipolar disorder a “get out of jail free” card for a cheating husband?

Does Society Condone Cheating from Bipolar Husbands?

Certainly, society has become more accepting of mental illness and there are plenty of public examples of bad behavior being blamed on a chronic mental condition.

Take, for instance, the recent case of New York Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner who apologized for his inappropriate “sexting” behavior by announcing he was going for treatment of his undisclosed “condition.” Speculation about his diagnosis ranged from an obsessive sex addiction to a narcissistic personality disorder at the root of his scandal, and he ultimately resigned from office.

In another story, a banker was penalized with a milder sentence for an outrageous theft because he was found to be suffering from depression.

Many bipolar husbands and wives use their condition as an excuse to seek out extra-marital affairs during the manic phase. A heartfelt apology is many times enough for someone’s human frailties to be overlooked, excused or forgiven.

The dilemma is the confusion over morality vs. biology. If someone with a mental disorder cheats, lies or is unfaithful, it’s common for this behavior to be more exaggerated than in someone who cheats who is not mentally ill. For example, sex addicts are known to be controlled by their urges, as opposed to most of society who feels the impulse but uses introspection and morality to respond.

Why Do Some Wives Put Up with Bipolar Lying and Cheating?

Wives want to know: Should I hate the sin or the sinner? Should I divorce my cheating bipolar husband.

To answer these questions, you must evaluate how your spouse’s behavior impacts your sense of self-worth. How much you can handle the cheating, the lying and the adultery which is likely never to end because it’s compulsive. Are you are willing to go the distance and participate in your husband’s therapy? Is he even willing to go?

Since there is no cure for bipolar disorder, just management of symptoms, are you willing to take the plunge and live with someone who hurts you emotionally and continues to “get away with it” because they have a doctor-diagnosed excuse?

{ 28 comments… add one }
  • jennifer July 28, 2011, 10:52 am

    Hi-
    I was involved with a married guy for quite sometime. We were friends but soon enough I discovered that he was 100% bipolar and narcissistic!! He is really sick!! the way that he thinks and acts and it took the second time around (we had the affair 2x in 3 years) for me to realize that he and his wife are both extremely mentally ill. The things that he would do and say??? and at the end he turned on me and switch just because I told him the truth about himself!! His wife is such a fool because he turned on her and told me all nasty things about her and he probably did the same when he told her about the affair about me. Absoultely no self-respect and now that everyone knows they are looked on as losers!! He has cheated numerous times and has come on to all types of women too. This time that I learned my lesson I can only feel sorry for them!! Luckily I have a happy and normal man in my life who treats me well and with respect!

    • Elizabeth Atlas July 29, 2011, 11:04 am

      As Hugh Hefner said, you “dodged a bullet.” Congratulations for holding out for what you really wanted. – E

    • lisa March 29, 2012, 9:42 am

      Wait a minute…you knowingly had sex with a married man and they are the losers??? The only loser’s are the 2 people that are having sex with eachother when they shouldn’t be…not the wife that was betrayed.
      Sorry, women who sleep with taken men, don’t deserve “respect”. Karma will make herself known to you one day. You only get back from the universe what you put into it.

      • Lisa January 25, 2015, 8:26 am

        Kuddos to you Lisa!!!!! Thanks for saying that!

      • Patti March 26, 2015, 1:20 pm

        agreed, Lisa! Disgusting.

      • joyce June 30, 2015, 6:50 am

        Hi there lisa you are so right and i can see that you have so much respect for your self as a woman
        kind regards to you Joycenn1

    • maryam August 27, 2013, 8:51 pm

      but you have nerve to think you are a victim. you participated with a married man? what you are “normal”? it takes a real low person to participate in that. you can’t get your own man, you have to get with a crazy ass bipolar dude who talks bad about his wife and then fucks you? gross. women are out of solidarity with each other it is so disgusting. i feel sorry for all three of you.

    • dona October 21, 2013, 2:31 pm

      Well, shame on you for screwing a married man! I hope that you get married one day and love him so completely that when he has an affair you know the kind of pain that you caused another woman. and I hope you do know that it will come back to your adulterous rear end. What in the hell are you thinking? Get a soul ho.

    • JW December 7, 2015, 5:13 pm

      What goes around, comes around. You have no morals and don’t care about his wife’s feelings, only your own. Six months ago I was the victim of a cheating husband and the psychiatrist whom my husband selected said I should divorce his butt and that the other woman like yourself DOESN’T CARE about his best interest or my feelings. He got caught by text messages and the psychiatrist stated that those texts are “Imprinted” in my head for life. I would see those texts every hour in my head. Ive had chest pains, headaches, loss of hair, high blood pressure, etc. After almost 30 years of marriage and 2 kids we will probably end up in a divorce soon. Divona, the 30 yr old he had the fling with (my husband is 63), he later found out she was not only pursuing him. She thought my husband owned the building her real estate office rents an office at, he only leases. The first thing she asked him was “What kind of settlement can u get from your divorce?” She is also sleeping with 2 others in the building, one is also married (wealthy) and another that just inherited 2 million in real estate, she felt had the funds to help her start a Spa in Hilo, Hawaii, where her “Girlfriend” resides. Hmmm…I guess I got the last laugh on that! You are both scums. I agree with all the rest! Your Karma is ruined and you will get the same soon enough , but over 10xs worst.

  • DYoung July 29, 2011, 12:35 am

    I need some help and guidance…my husband was diagnosed with being bi-polar 2 years ago. He does go to therapy and medication. We have been married for 15 years with three children (14,11 and 6). During our marriage he had sex with escorts,
    “dated” while I stayed home with the kids, communicated on face book with young girls, etc… We have seen counslers and they all say the same thing; He loves you but he will proably never change. It is heart breaking…some times our marriage is good but since I have found out about all the cheating I am so angry and I can’t seem to forgive him or get past it. When I found out I did leave him but we gradually got back together…”a new start”. But it just doesn’t seem to be working. He has started back with the face book and I know he is capable of doing much worse it is a matter of time. How can I get strong enough to let him go?

    • Elizabeth Atlas July 29, 2011, 11:03 am

      I’m so sorry for your pain. Having children definitely makes decision making harder in a bipolar marriage, for sure. But don’t make the mistake many spouses make who are married to unstable bipolar partners. Don’t wait for him to change. Psychologists tell us it takes 2 weeks to change a habit. And that’s assuming someone is trying to change. Breaking up and getting back together placates an upset partner. Promises voiced are not change until converted to action. The way to build emotional strength is to decide what *you* want in your life, independent of your husband’s influence and behavior. Then decide if he measures up to or (hopefully) exceeds your conditions for a marriage partner. Good luck. – E

    • Devestated June 23, 2015, 10:47 am

      DYoung… This post is nearly four years old so I was wondering where you stand with things now. I have been with my husband for 23 years (high school sweethearts) and we have two teenage children. Six years ago my husband had an affair with a friend of ours and although it took be awhile I got over it. I found out a week ago that he has been messaging women on social media and has actually been unfaithful for the past three years!!!! I am devastated and I don’t know what to do!!!!!!

  • SALLY April 9, 2013, 9:45 am

    WHY DO MEN WHO HAVE BI-POLAR MANIC THINK IT IS OKAY TO HIDE WHAT THEY ARE DOING AND WONT TAKE MEDICINE. THEY RUN WITH MEN AND LIVE WITH THEM AND THINK IT IS OKAY TO GO CRAZY AND CHEAT ON THERE WIFE AND HIDE IT AND THE WIFE CANT HAVE THEM COMMITED UNLESS THEY DO SOMETHING FIRST AND THEY WAIT TO SEE THERE MARRIAGE DESTORYED AND THERE LIFE TORE APART.. WHY CANT DAYMARK DO SOMETHING TO GET THESES PEOPLE HELP BEFORE THEY COMMIT A CRIME OR KILL SOMEONE. OR BEFORE THEY END UP DEAD OR IN PRISON OR IN JAIL OR GAY…????? WHY CANT THE PEOPLE DO SOMETHING TO HELP THESES PEOPLE GET HELP BEFORE IT IS TO LATE?????

    • Lukasz Wason March 3, 2016, 7:58 am

      Sally,
      I think you’re looking at the whole situation a little too black and white. What separates mental illness from physical illnesses is that each situation is very different from another person’s with the same diagnosis. In a manic episode morals tend to be ignored, but that person is still aware of them, hence the hiding things from their partner, due to the shame. The urges that someone experiencing mania have are so overwhelming, that they are near impossible to not give into, and that goes for self harm, infidelity and even unfortunately suicide (or attempts at). It’s very rare that a bipolar sufferer (not just bipolar men) think their actions are okay.

      Also, the help being offered to mentally ill people is appalling. In a lot of instances, councelling isn’t enough. Additionally, councelling only will ever work if the sufferer has come to terms with there being a problem in the first place, which is much easier said than done with denial and delusions being a big part of mental illnesses. Medicine sometimes is not the answer, there isn’t one medicine to fix everything, it depends on that individual. Sometimes they aren’t the right option at all. In my case, I’m so sensitive to the medication’s side effects, I didn’t even feel human.

      Please do more research.

  • Mike Bonnie March 2, 2014, 10:56 am

    My wife is bipolar diagnosed six years ago she is 42 and from south America i am 20 years older and we never had a problem with this but a lot of people out there do.anyway three years ago while in the mental ward she except that she was bipolar.she would do her meds religiously but things still happen.i find that body chemical are a constant problem. over the last three years she had me in court about four times on assault charges witch were dropped just cost a lot of money.looks like she likes to call the police. now she filed for divorce and moved out manic and homeless and my hands are tied because the law will not let me get her the right help.she is a wonderful person when things are going good.so I don’t know if I should go along with the divorce or fight it a county counselor thinks this will teach her a lesson if I go through with the divorce i’m between a hard place and a rock.

    • Dan March 6, 2015, 2:38 am

      My wife stopped taking her antidepressant medication last July and since then has verbally abused me and has done extreme acts that supports bipolar disorder or personality disorder. She has filed false testimony to the courts and filed for divorce. We have a 2.5 and 4 year old. My wife has a history of chemical imbalance and at this time she is very angry and I don’t understand what I did. She has been caught having strange bizarre online affairs and left the house saying “where I go us none of your business, grow some balls loser, I never loved you, you are one giant insecure loser ” and the list goes on and on. I’m desperate to understand where this behavior of hers came from and she now smokes marijuana instead if taking her Celexa medication. She has hit me, sent naked photos of herself to strangers and purely says “just kill yourself”.

      My wife was a very loving person and all of a sudden she wants me eliminated out if her life as I never existed.

      Please help me.

  • Dan March 6, 2015, 2:37 am

    My wife stopped taking her antidepressant medication last July and since then has verbally abused me and has done extreme acts that supports bipolar disorder or personality disorder. She has filed false testimony to the courts and filed for divorce. We have a 2.5 and 4 year old. My wife has a history of chemical imbalance and at this time she is very angry and I don’t understand what I did. She has been caught having strange bizarre online affairs and left the house saying “where I go us none of your business, grow some balls loser, I never loved you, you are one giant insecure loser ” and the list goes on and on. I’m desperate to understand where this behavior of hers came from and she now smokes marijuana instead if taking her Celexa medication. She has hit me, sent naked photos of herself to strangers and purely says “just kill yourself”.

    My wife was a very loving person and all of a sudden she wants me eliminated out if her life as I never existed.

    Please help me.

    • Jesse September 25, 2015, 11:56 am

      My wife did the exact same thing to me. Just suddenly got very cold. She started treating me like I was nothing. She would leave the house and I never knew where she was. Always said it was none if my business. As she was texting her new boyfriend right in front of me, saying she was doing nothing wrong because age hated my guts and never should have married me in the first place. We have two children and have been together for 15 years. I left her. I couldn’t take it anymore. She has begged and begged for me to come home. Two times I tried to give her a chance. Both times she continued to cheat and lie. Right now she is in the hospital, diagnosed with bipolar and PTSD. I really don’t know if I should excuse her behavior. Or stick to the divorce. It’s a really tough spot to be in. But I know, for me, I can’t take the abuse and negativity anymore. But with meds maybe it could stop? Advice?

      • Mandy March 25, 2016, 9:38 am

        Did your situation ever resolve?

  • Andrea May 28, 2015, 2:58 am

    My husband is bipolar and he knows it. He doesn’t want to do anything about it. He has cheated numerous times to the point he may have some extra kids out there. He is leaving for truck driving school soon and I’m afraid that he is going to cheat again. I don’t want him to go so I was wondering if I should give him an ultimatum. Like if he stays I won’t divorce him but if he goes I will file the paperwork. I love him but I’m so tired of wondering what if and who with….

  • Suzanne June 13, 2015, 9:45 pm

    My husband was diagnosed with bi-polar last week. He has been acting oddly for months. He was rushed to the hospital for another condition and while in the ER I discovered a text from his ‘lover’. A woman from 3,000 miles away with whom he’d been having an online affair. My husband has always been affectionate and loving to me. We’ve been married 8 years and together for 10. He has never cheated before. It is all so new. I’m trying to be supportive and he and I are very strong when facing issues together but I have tremendous self-respect and am not sure I can ever trust him again. His doctor was very clear that this is a part of the mania and had nothing to do with me. We have a young child who loves his father….and he is an excellent father. Like others have said, there were signs but I missed them because I knew nothing about this illness. I’m not sure if our marriage will survive and terrified of facing another ‘episode’ as I know I cannot accept another affair, even virtual. I can’t help but question if the manic mind cheats because of real issues in the marriage? I’m taking this day by day.

    • Judy September 2, 2015, 7:19 pm

      My husband and I have been married for 22 years. He has cheated 5 times now. 2 were one night stands but the other 3 were relationships. He was just diagnosed bipolar. My 20 year old son has it to. This time my husband had a 7 year relationship with someone he worked 3 nights a week with. They only saw each other at work and had sex in his car after work and they texts everyday. er have 4 childten together our twins are only 11. When he got caught he got very depressed and ended up in hospital 3 times in 2 months. The meds seem to be working now I’m just not sure if I should stay in the marriage. My therapist said him being on the right meds I could have a good marriage now.

  • Francesca August 18, 2015, 4:24 am

    Listen, I spent 10 years with a bipolar man – medicated or unmedicated he was just a complete waste of space – drug and booze issues, constantly in and out of work, alienation of good friends, self harm (in front of his child :/), multiple infidelities and strange sexual behaviour, in ability to take responsibility and look after himself, unpredictable moods, nasty shitty behaviour and the list goes on … my point is that when he was ok, he was great but that wasn’t very often – I gave and forgave for 10 long years and now I detest him – we have a lovely little girl together and on a ‘good day’ (yawn) he is a decent dad but he pays not a penny towards her and has no clue when it comes to the day-to-day responsibilities of raising a child – I. f**king. HATE. him and I have zero respect for these people – how dare they treat the ones that love(d) them and try everyday to help with so badly? I wouldn’t care if he took his life (like he always whines when people don’t give him what he wants) – BETTER DEAD THAN A NASTY USELESS WASTE OF SPACE THAT POISON OTHER PEOPLE’S LIVES :))

  • karen October 14, 2015, 12:32 pm

    I finally had to end my relationship after 12 years together and am still working through it….When you are involved with someone who is bi polar you do tend to become so caught up in their , at times, unnaceptable behaviour towards you that you start believing that it is you that is at fault. My partner often cheated, very often had intimate facebook relationships with other woman and sometimes i arrived home to find him all friendly with a young girl that he had invited round to smoke joints with! Whenever i questioned this it was me that was accussed of being unreasonable, jealous and possessive…..this went on for so many years that i ended up almost accepting this as the norm…Where once i had been a strong, confident and capable person i realised that i had become lacking in self confidence and self esteem…His friends and family often asked why i put up with him but i chose to stay because i also saw the kind hearted caring person he could be….After 12 years however i had to acknowledge that whilst my life revolved around him the sad truth was that his had always revolved around him too. I did everything to help him and realise now that i was probably with him so long because i made his life easier, that suited him as long as he was still “free” to act as he chose…He has now had to move back to his home town and his mum has had to pay rent so he has somewhere to live…. he blames me for making him leave and now treats me as if we had never ever been together…he also has a new partner and seems only concerned with making sure she is happy, often making sure he is rude and cutting to me on the phone if she is about…we can chat like friends but that can change without warning…I know that i must break off all contact now with him but i still continue to get messages telling me how tough life is for him, how poor he is etc etc…I still try and help him as i do understand that he finds it difficult to function sometimes, but i still am treated as if i should be the one thankful that i am trying to help…the truth is that i have to acknowledge that, bi polar or not, his behaviour towards me is destructive.He won’t take any meds and has not had to be hospitalised for a few years but i know that if i try to maintain a friendship with him i will never be able to fully move on….Sometimes, as hard as it is, you just have to let go and move on with your life…I’ll never really fully understand if all or some of his actions were to do with his illness but you can’t beat yourself up wondering,,,,,,i ended up on medication after ending our relationship as i was almost grieving for the life we had together which had ended, it made it even more difficult as he barely acknowledges now that we were ever even together……it does get easier but i have to be honest, if i were to meet someone else and even if i thought they were wonderful, if i then found out they were bi polar i would walk away……

  • Lin October 16, 2015, 10:46 pm

    I do not know what to do in my situation. My fiancee of 7 years who has been recently diagnosed with PTSD and bipolar has been seeing a therapist for a few week and the last session he had his therapist talked to him about her poly relationship and also suggested to talk to me about possibly being open to having a poly relationship because apparently he confessed there were times he felt lonely and that their has been a married woman on his facebook who apparently has been flirting and talking to him about how she wants to sleep with him. He has never cheated on me or been with anybody else he used to also tell me all the time that he could never see himself being with another woman. We live together and I have been taking care of him for the past few years. Now for the last three days all he talks about is this poly relationship with this woman on facebook and how he thinks it might help him to be a little more happier and basically when I told him that I do not want to be in a poly relationship nor that I would feel comfortable with him sleeping around he basically yelled at me and told me to grow up to stop being possessive and disrespectful of his wishes he told me that I was being unfair and cruel. We have been fighting since he left his last therapy session all because I told him I did not want to share him with another woman. I do not want to lose him because we have been together for so many years and I love him so much and I have put a lot on hold for him and back in Feb of this year we had begun talking about planning a wedding and planning on finding a new home and now he throws this at me. I also have found out from my doctor a few months back that I could not have children we also had to put down our cat due to kidney problems and his aunt passed away as well back in July. It has been so hard on me and now my options are either make him happy and let him sleep with this married woman and be forced to accept this side gf even though I do not want that or completely lose him and his reasoning is that his therapist suggested that he talk to me about this as an option for us and she also views me as a caregiver type whatever that means. I do not know what to do and I am completely heart broken. I have also read Poly forums and a lot of the people on their just tell me to either accept the poly relationship or find myself a new relationship and for some reason I have a hard time with that point of view I think it’s kind of cold.

  • Sadwife March 25, 2016, 9:57 am

    I am currently going through an episode with my husband. He has escalated from I don’t want to hurt anyone, to being confused about life, to now he hates me and he wants a divorce. He met someone at work and insists she is his love, and pressures me daily for a divorce. He says he cannot stay in the same house with me, that he hates me. I am summarizing cause its been the last two months of torture. Its still going on and I am scared and don’t know what to do. He was diagnosed about 6 years ago for the first time. He went to therapy but rarely/never really, took the medicine. I thought was just depressed from grief over loosing his parent and he had been diagnosed with PTSD as teen. I thought he misdiagnosed and he seemed to be getting better. I didnt know any better.. It was months of hell after his mom died, him saying he was never happy, he didn’t want us, didn’t want a family. Then one day he woke up and remembered he loved us. A few months later his feelings happened again and he finally started therapy. He was doing well in it, and things improved. But when I switched jobs, we had a one month lapse in insurance and he stopped going, and never went back. Fast forward to Jan this year and he realized he was having a hard time and i made him a therapy appointment. It was probably all too late. He was already sliding into this. They gave him medication said he would be drug tested to verify he takes it. I thought he would take it. He did not even take a full month not even long enough to start working, he went full on episode. He has done everything in his power to try and get at me, to punish me for his life. Everything I say to him he twists and turns around. He has even told our little children he is divorcing me and doesnt love me and that he plans on moving his girlfriend into our home. He had the nerve the other day to text me and tell me to not bad mouth her, he will not stand for it. We have been together for 16 years, he met this woman in December. I am beside myself with anger and grief. I know he is not ok in his mind. No one else seems to believe me, because he is hypomanic, he function, he can work, he can hold a conversation. Yes he also lies, has spent hundreds of dollars in the last few weeks, traded a 3 month old new car for another even more expensive car, without a word or even a thought. Says things like having a wife and kids is hell, says all we ever do it take take take from him.. Really he says the most deplorable nasty things to me, and hates me.. for? well that’s the question, why am I hated? We don’t fight and never have problems. We had a good marriage, until this. I don’t want a divorce. I know deep down he is sick. I know this isnt him. I just dont cant seem to hold him off from it. I thought he was getting better about two weeks ago. He had an odd day and at night came to me, and hugged me, he was shaking and I said your ok, he said NO NO IM NOT. and I thought, OMG finally he is getting better. But the next evening, i asked him to take his medication and it pissed him off and pushed him back to how he was feeling. That right now is why he hates me I think. I have asked him to take the medication. He will not. Insists he doesnt have a problem, told me his therapy is just to talk about me, and how I am, he doesnt have an illness, I am his illness. I am lost without my best friend. I don’t know what to do. I know hes there somewhere, but the few times hes actually talked to me like this in person, I look at him and dont see him. Hes not in his eyes, its this cold monster. I feel like the whole world wants me to give up and say F him, but I still love him, we are family.

  • wife of bipolar April 11, 2016, 1:33 am

    I’m getting chills reading your post. This sounds like my husband. 17 yrs of marriage–treating me viciously off of meds, apologetic and loving on meds. Had a wonderful time on Spring Break two weeks ago. Last week a woman flew into his office for a meeting. He decided she’s his soulmate, professed his love long distance after she left and now wants a divorce to be with her. He’s known her less than two weeks. We’ve been best friends and have gone through so much of life together. I want to find a bipolar family support meeting or something but am sure if someone found out he’d lose his very high power high security position and our kids would suffer so much financially. I’m stunned and isolated because of all this. It’s just not rational and really hurts.

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