Bipolar Husband? Bipolar Wife? Should You Stay Married?

Should You Stay Married To Your Bipolar Husband or Wife?

By Elizabeth Atlas

Husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends of partners with Bipolar Disorder are the overlooked and underserved mental illness support network of the Bipolar treatment world.

First, we are never secure about our own emotional needs. Are they more or less important the needs of our mentally ill spouse? If we choose to take care of our own needs first, we often suffer, then punish ourselves with guilt, then get angry toward our sick partner that he or she has caused us such misery.

But if we choose to put our partner’s emotional, physical and mental health needs ahead of ours-after all, he’s the sick one-our quality of life diminishes. Our choices are never easy and always agonizing.

True Marriage Partner or Bipolar Caregiver?

Second, husbands and wives are alone in coping with our spouses’ Bipolar Disorder (also known as Manic Depression). Besides managing doctor visits, medications, decisions on whether to hospitalize or not, “well” partners must fight for our relationships. The line between partner and caregiver is thin and often non-existent. It can make for a lonely and often devastating life.

You cannot share your feelings with your bipolar partner; he’s the sick one and the cause of your distress! Your parents are empty nesters; you can’t burden them with your problems. Your siblings have their own families to worry about. Unless mental illness runs in your friends’ families, they won’t understand what you cope with. Plus your bipolar husband or wife may not want you violating their privacy rights.

Why Do You Stay in Your Bipolar Relationship?

The pressure on us from friends, family and professionals is unrelenting. Those who ask, “Why do you stay in your relationship?” are not supportive. And neither are the ones that imply that it’s your duty to stay married to your bipolar husband or wife. Bipolar disorder runs roughshod over relationships. The divorce rate is three times higher in these marriages than in the general population.

Bipolar Suicide Rate

In my personal story, when I did find a “spousal support group,” there was one man (divorced) and 16 women. A third of the women’s husbands lived in their basements, couldn’t hold jobs and couldn’t contribute financially or emotionally to their family life. One third of the women were divorced from violent men who beat them or were emotionally abusive to them or their children (a common side effect of problems with bipolar medication).

The last third were widows-their bipolar husbands had committed suicide. (The suicide rate for bipolar disorder is 12 times higher than the “normal” population.) Everyone in the support group thought I was in denial for having a goal to stay married.

Why do you stay married to or in a relationship with a bipolar husband or bipolar wife?

Elizabeth Atlas is the author of “Married To Mania,” a book that helps spouses and partners be in relationships with someone with bipolar disorder. Her book teaches how to “live life on purpose,” despite the unfair hand you were dealt in love and marriage and despite the chaos and emotional mine field you must avoid everyday in a marriage to someone with manic depression (another name for bipolar disorder). Elizabeth shows how to construct a plan to take charge of your life and to retain control of your life’s goals, without getting caught up in the bipolar drama–no matter how much you love your bipolar spouse.


  1. Alex

    Myself and my partner hold a happy and healthy relationship. Bipolar is an obstacle but it is not the end. This website is sick and embarrassing. Go to hell

    • admin

      Alex, I’m happy that you and your partner have found ways around your illness obstacles. You’re one of the lucky ones. Many more wives of bipolar husbands and husbands of bipolar wives struggle to find the balance between bipolar medications, behaviors and and not letting the bipolar illness consume their relationship. Perhaps you could share some of the things that have worked in your relationship.

    • UnHappyCaregiver

      I am appalled at the answer of Alex even if it was 3 1/2 years ago. The website is not sick. I’m desperate to find someone to talk to. I’ve been married to my manic husband for 14 years. One suicide attempt in 1999 that left him partially paralyzed and the ups and downs (even though he is medicated) are HELL! I’m sick to death of it. My daughter is getting married in 13 days and I’m having to worry about how HE is going to deal with the crowd, the drinking (though he’s not supposed to) etc….shouldn’t I be allowed to just enjoy her big day??

      • Elizabeth Atlas

        My advice is to tell your husband you plan to rejoice in every aspect of your daughter’s wedding, family and friends, and that you won’t have time to spend with him. Ask if he’d like you to arrange for someone to take him home early, which he’ll likely decline. Then give yourself permission to enjoy yourself and your daughter’s big day. Congratulations! – Elizabeth

      • pj

        I’m with you. I wish Alex would share the secret! I hope the wedding went well! My husband misses almost all of our daughters events now, refuses to take the meds. Teenagers are a walk in the park compared to the emotional hell my husband put me through. I am busy with the kids and work full time. I try to stay away as much as possible when he goes through his downs. Its hard to not let it get to you when they spit out the most horrible mean and ugly words. there is no win/win to this disease that i have found.

  2. Joe

    This is a great website!
    One of the symptons of my wife’s biploar illneass is Morbid Jealousy. She is totally irrational & has caused our family to break up to say the least. The privacy between her shrinks & myself only prolonged the misery & emboldned her stance towards our divorce.

    To Alex: Perhaps you could share some of the things that have worked in your relationship. (l.o.l.)

    • jani

      joe,you sound a bit ANGRY and i know that wont cant blame your wife,blame the illness

      • Jess

        We all get angry and rightfully so. Yes the illness is to blame but at some point as an ADULT you need to take responsibility for yourself, weather that means getting help or moving on. I tried to get help for my husband, and when he decided that he could control himself with Marijuana, and I couldn’t handle it anymore, I went to the doctor, was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety disorder. I got on meds, had them changed several times until we found what worked, kept my job, took care of my kids and he’s still sleeping on the couch…at least now it’s someone else’s couch now. So while you can blame the disease there is also some blame to be put upon the one that expects you to take care of life while they won’t even take care of themselves.

  3. Melissa

    Hello. I am trying to find an ongoing blog. I am the wife of a bipolar husband. I am looking for a support group here in my area. I found NAMI but from what I’ve read that is not specifically for spouses. I am on the brink of divorce and have been for a while. I have 3 little children and living with my spouse is a big challenge and only seems to be getting worse. He is a wonderful father but an awful communicator. I feel blamed by his family too and that is making my life more difficult. Any help you can provide would be great. Thank you!

    • Elizabeth Atlas

      I would definitely call NAMI. They are aware of all the bipolar support groups and can direct you. It was very difficult for me to find a spouse’s support group, too. You just have to keep trying. If there isn’t a support group for wives or husbands of bipolar partners, start one! We are one of the most neglected (and most needed) populations! Other wives and husbands will seek YOU out!

    • Amber

      Hi Melissa,
      I’m in the same boat. Married 21 years, 2 teens, can’t get out of the cycle and now he has cancer. I need to make some decisions after he is done w chemo & radiation.
      Do I just listen to the “I love yous” and the ” you are my life, I can’t live without yous” and ignore the opposite behavior? He’s been on Serequl XR for a month now. Can’t tell if it’s helping.
      Any advice?

    • Anika

      I have just finished my moimers of two decades of drug abuse and doing crazy things to get drugs. My book Running Away From Me should be available in late summer or early fall from Trafford Publishers. Here is the short book description.. From inside a prison cell, a young man takes an honest look back at his life and tries to figure out how he ended up locked up away from society and labeled a violent criminal. His story is engrossing, gripping and true. Take a dark journey through the author’s real-life nightmare as he battles his self-destructive obsession with drugs, which leads him on a roller coaster ride through hell on earth. Witness the progression of his addiction, which takes him to death’s door as he runs from drug dealers, cops, God and more tellingly, himself. In the face of every negative consequence, he continues using until he reaches the place where all hope is lost, and he still can’t stop.

  4. Kaylene

    Hello, I have just broken up with a beautiful guy with bipolar. He walked out the door. When I read this book “married to mania” I thanked God that I found it. I was blaming myself for everything, and continually wanting him back after a bad episode, and both of us had calmed down. I was in a terrible cycle. The book was right, my family did not understand, my friends all thought I was nuts, and I couldn’t talk to anyone about what was going on, no one understood. When I read the book, I could not stop, it was as though I was reading about my relationship. It answered so many questions, and the advice was excellent. People think I was lucky when he left and found someone else, very quickily I might add, but I was devastated. This book showed me it does not matter what I would have done, bipolar would have always be there. What an incredible woman the author is, and I can only imagine how hard it would have been to move on, but after two years in the same situation, you have no choice. Read this book if you do not understand bipolar it is excellent.

    • Elizabeth Atlas

      Kaylene, I’m so sorry for your loss. We are all to be commended for trying so hard to make our challenging relationships work, no? I truly appreciate your comments about my book and how it helped you. As *cold* as it may seem, in a relationship with a bipolar partner, you must reserve some of yourself for you and not invest every last drop of your compassion into your partner. May you find true happiness with your next partner!

    • Stella

      Kaylene, I felt like you were describing my life (to every detail!) in your comment above. The only difference is that we were engaged… when my fiancé (who has bipolar) broke up with me. I’m so heartbroken right now… I just pray that I may heal completely instead of questioning what could’ve been if I had done something differently.

  5. Rita

    I have a boyfriend that’s bipolar we have been together for 3 years I thought I was crazy. We have broken up several times in the last 3 years. The same problems ocure over & over again…..I love him for the help he has given me…but now I can’t get over the problems we have….this is difficult…..we have broken up, but he doesn’t seem to understand that. He is insistant on having sex..asking what I’m doing….I’ve stopped answering he’s calls, then he comes over….please help.

    • Elizabeth Atlas

      Rita, you don’t say whether your bipolar ex-boyfriend is taking his medication. Whether he is or not, it’s obviously not working for him. That’s his problem, not yours. You must not allow yourself to be a ping-pong ball to his moods. Set some ground rules for him if he wants to be with you. Or stick to your guns and stay broken up, if that’s what you want. Put your life goals first; not his.

      Any readers have other suggestions for Rita?

  6. christine

    I have a husband that is bi-polar also. we have two little girls, and part of the reason i’m going nuts is because he rarely shows them affection. i can handle not getting it from him, but i think his kids deserve his attention. our oldest daughter will turn 2 next month and last month was the first time he even helped me give her a bath. if i ask for his help with the kids he sulks and roles his eyes like he hates taking care of his kids. he requested that i quit my job, so i’m a stay at home mom now. both of the kids are still in diapers, the youngest is 7 months old and just crawling. Is it normal for somone with the disorder to be like this toward there family? MY mother is bi-polar also and she never showed affection either. aslo with the disorder on both sides of the family will my kids get it?

    • Elizabeth Atlas

      Christine, just stop right there. Why should you “handle not getting it” from your husband? Affection is a big part of marriage, and should be a marital haven for you as your family grows. Do you really want to teach your kids that it’s OK to be emotionally deprived? What kind of future mates will that set them up for? You don’t mention if your husband is taking bipolar medication. If he isn’t, that’s the first thing you need to address. If he is, maybe it’s making him too lethargic to participate in your family life, and it needs to be adjusted. Believe it or not, it’s not too soon to be in family counseling. Things will only get worse as the kids get older. From the research I read, the onset of bipolar disorder is nurture and nature–part DNA and part environment. Therefore, strive to have the healthiest emotional home life you can.

  7. Kristy

    My husband of 6 years was diagnosed bipolar I two months ago. I stay because I love him, because our children love him. Yes there are days I/we avoid him due to mood swings. It is hard, and I agree with the post that sometimes I can’t distinguish the line between spouse and caregiver. Trust is hard sometimes it’s there and others ..not so much. But on the days I see “him” the man I married and love beyond a doubt..I know I can make it through the others. It’s hard though when he is so withdrawn somedays and sometimes out of no where . The most recent episode of hypermania.. he “found” someone else and talked of me to her and all I could do was feel sorry for her.. How sad is that? I guess I rationalized it . I handle it all.. for now.

  8. Terry Lawrence Nelson

    I have been with my husband for 14 years, the periods of mania flight of ideas and indescion are getting worse. He will not take medications or talk to any one. He has now asked me to change jobs so I am home more. I am very career oriented and have a very good job that requires me to travel at times. I do see that me not being home does affect his illness. I am now challenged with do I change careers or leave my husband. He recently left me in Fla when we were on vacation and states that he can not return due to him thinking that my family thinks poorly of him, he is sensative and makes a big deal of every little comment.

  9. Mag

    I too am married to a bi-polar, he doesn’t take meds, or seek/accept any help. I want to stay married, it is hard though, he is verbally abusive & threatens divorce when mad. When he is not mad, different story he thanks me for staying with him, etc. The few things that work for me: 1) First is not to get involved in the emotional drama, stay even, If I get mad then it escalates, if I don’t it passes much quicker. 2)I stuggle to not be perceived to be giving him the silent treatment, that too escalates his anger, so I try to say the same things at various times of the day such as good morn/night, love you, I intentionally make up reasons to ask him a question, it is hard though, at the height of the drama to know how to approach him. Sometimes talking to him when he is mad just makes him more mad. I call him from work even though he may not answer, & then just leave a message, or at least he’ll see that I called, cuase I may call several times, but just leave a message the 1st time. In doing these things, I make it not about me, I think about myself not being part of it, as if he mad at someone else, that way I can deal with it better emotionally. 3) I tell myself (repeatedly some days) “Stay off the roller coaster ride”, “play the game”, & “look at the big picture” last one means to me- not to live in the moment when the moment isn’t good, think about the future when this won’t matter anymore, (I used to be very anxious when upset, didn’t know what to do with myself, but when I don’t live in the moment it is so much better!) I read many positive poems (goggle- Christian D. Larson’s poem), & songs, & Bible verses. 4) I rely on my faith in God, 5) I fill my bucket with positive interactions with other people (which is limited cause he is jealous if I hang out with the girls too often) but at work etc. I try to lift others up, & remember that some have greater burdens then I do. 6) I seek wise counsel. If I confide in the wrong person they encourage me to just go for the big D, 2 people yesterday told me that. 7)I exercise & try to eat well, & do things that make me feel good (fill my own bucket). 8)I thank the Good Lord for one child even though I wanted more, I am blessed to have one, & in times like now I am blessed not to have more than one. 9) Even though I am often tempted to be a stay at home Mom again, I remind myself that I get ‘my bucket filled’ at work, & I need that required time away from him.
    I think the people that come to this site should join a message group or something together. Lets organize one, lets help each other. Anyone interested?

    • Heather

      Thank you for your words of encouragement. I needed them today.

  10. loree

    Hi Christine:) My bipolar hubby is exactly the same no affection to his kids as they were growing up and i met him when i was 21 he was 31 he was fantastic but we moved in too fast..i had a son from a previous relationship with a very abusive guy i was happy someone found me attractive.
    I got pregnant very quick and after that the affection stopped just like that! I never knew lonliness could feel this bad. He adopted my child from my ex but she passed away before her 3rd birthday.
    Our first together around 9 yrs old started to get depression problems and by middle school he was trying to commit suicide.We had him seeing a therapist but he wouldn’t talk just ignored her. He is into drugs now and we drained our savings to get him help never helps:( He has recently been dx’ed with bipolar. Whenever i brought the subject up christine about affection he would get so mad and scream and yell i’d even get scared, there are alot of people with bipolar that can’t show affection i wish i knew why…it truly breaks your heart and makes you feel so insecure and sad.
    I am hoping your situation is better if you read this as it is oct. now. My hubby just went through a cycle he gets every fall? It was draining and scary and lasted so long i can’t eat or sleep. I wish he could understand what it does to us, please take care loree

  11. suewarl

    I stumbled across this site and wish I could afford to buy the book. I am in a relationship with a well balance guy who takes his medication but who is unable to show affection outside of the bedroom and who maintains that his stable state is due to the lack of stress from work. He is not a slacker but I worry that we may not financially or emotionally survive his need for calm. I love him so I am not about to walk away from the partnership or apportion blame but keep hoping (maybe futilely if I believe sites like this) that it may change?

  12. Phyllis

    Hi, I’m married to a bipolar man who doesn’t take meds. We have two daughters together. He has all these grandiose ideas and dreams. He’ll start on one project and not finish and then blame me for his failure. I admit I’m not always nice to him but man I’m stressed too and need some emotional support from him. He refuses to acknowledge my hardships and says I should be emotionally stable for him at all times. It makes me sick to know I can’t ever get through to him even when I dumb it down for him and call him out on his hypocrisy. I call out for help and he offers the bare minimum. I tell him its not enough and I’m the bad Guy somehow. My feelings are never validated. My thoughts are never heard,my ideas never tried and my being never happy. He can keep a job he just bitches and moans everyday about how bad he is treated by his peers. But he has gotten fired a few times by pissing off the staff or poor job performance due to him letting someone get to him and he focuses on the problem. He is the clingy type so he lies to my face to get me to change my mind about divorce or guilt trips me by saying I didn’t put any effort into changing my attitude towards him. Its always my fault. I’m not getting any relief from anyone. I need help. Should I drag my poor innocent children through this turmoil to make my husband happy for awhile?

    • Elizabeth Atlas

      Phyllis, I know the pain of being so conflicted on how to determine the right thing to do when you have a bipolar husband. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to get professional guidance to help you decide. No one can tell you what the “right” thing to do is, especially when you have children. But when you have so many ups and downs, it’s usually a matter of determining, and then setting and sticking to, boundaries. Good luck.

  13. Lorna

    My husband has bipolar and I have it also. My husband found out he has it when he had a break down out work during his mothers death. I found out that I have it when my son past away. Neither of us ever thought anything about it growing up. Mine is not as sever as his is but all the same its there. Our marriage has been one big roller coaster of a ride, but we are still there 14 years of marriage now going on 15. That is one good thing I guess. About two years ago it really started going down hill bad. I had to have a pacer put in and to quit work we lost our home and now are having to stay with family in two different counties. My husband has quit taking his meds and is trying to cope with it on his own at times he does allright other times it is all he can do to stay focued. But with God on our side I hope and pray that we can make it. It is a struggle to go through each day dealing with his and mine. There is lots of times that I don’t tell him things that I’m going through because he has enough on his mind. Dealing with both his and mine and the struggles we are going through is almost more that I can stand at times.

    • Elizabeth Atlas

      Lorna, thanks for writing. I can’t even imagine how much extra stress you both have right now managing your dual bipolar illnesses, trying to help each other and keep your family together with your financial struggles. My best to you both. When going through difficult times, you need more support, not less. Go look for a free counseling service and both of you go. Don’t try to cope with your challenges alone. It’s even more depressing and polarizing. – Elizabeth

  14. chris

    i see alot of the women posting here but not many guys .. i am sadly the guy everyone is talking about i have been married for almost 11 yrs to a wonderful woman i have 3 kids and i do support the family finanicaly spelling sorry i make over 100k per year i have been diagnosed for about 20 yrs i have huge rage and jealousy issues i feel if everything is ok that it really isnt my kids are the exception however i love them and treat them very well i make my wife sufffer and treat her horribly sometimes i love her with all my heart and i just cant seem to accept that i have a good thing in my life i seem to just try and push it away when things go good i dont know why she stays with me i know she loves me i just want to say i can help others in what little way i can so if i can share anything in my life tht is good plz ask me

    • Elizabeth Atlas

      Chris, it is nice to have the male perspective. Most of the wives I know care deeply for their husbands but are often rebuked for reasons that do not seem apparent to them. That starts the endless cycle of “trying to make it up to our mates,” which in the case of bipolar disorder typically escalates a bad situation. I appreciate your insight and offer to help.

  15. Tina

    Hi, there, my story is the same. I have married to my husband for almost 6 years. And He started getting depression five years ago. I guess he changed to bipolar two months ago. He hardly sleep, is full of energy, and get irritated easily. No matter what I do, he blames me all the time. I really feel hurt by all of those verbal and emotional abuse even though I know he is ill. I asked or even plea with him to see a doctor but he think he is fine. He reject any advice from me. Then, I went away and got back my father’s home. Now, I feel guilty so much as I am a selfish person but it is awfully difficult to take this life. These days, I asked help from his family and told them what I concern about. However, they don’t believe me apparently. His brother said I overact or exaggerate his illness. Just feel overwhelmed and exhausted. Still don’t know how to get through this problem.

  16. Ben

    My bipolar wife just divorced me and moved back to NYC–I live in Louisiana–where I met her. I feel relieved more than anything else, although I spent seven years trying my best to love her and help her take care of herself. In a five-year marriage, she left me three times. Each time, she would beg for forgiveness and ask for another chance. She tried several meds, and the only one that worked made her anemic. Abilify kept her at a constant low level of hypomania–it was an awful drug for her. What was devestating was that in the last two years of the marriage, I found she had committed adultery numerous times before she met me and had been highly promisuous, even in non-hypomanic states. She also would submit resumes for jobs back in NYC behind my back even when we were reconciled (or trying to reconcile). I also caught her on twice, and her online flirting got completely out of control during and after the Abilify, which I firmly believed changed her personality forever. She went through DBT and seemed to make good progress in understanding her destructive behaviors and extreme promiscuity, but then her compulsive lying and flirting began again. She did not consistently exercise or keep therapy appointments. All in all, the lability was too much for me to handle. In the final months before she left (and directly after she finished her DBT course, which was about emotional regulation, handling pain, and not making rash decisions), I developed heart disease. Although I had given her emotional support for her medical disorder for seven years, she could not reciprocate when I needed her most. Now back in NYC, she is once again contacting her old lovers. I’m glad to be out of this. I salute those who make their bipolar marriages work, but I hope those who can’t won’t feel guilty. You can’t force people to accept help. As a Christian, I believe in sacrifice, but there are times when becoming a bipolar caregiver is a martyrdom that can ruin a life, both psychologically and emotionally. Every marital situation is different, but my bipolar ex-wife was an extreme narcissist who could not focus on my need for companionship, loyalty, and truth.

    • Elizabeth Atlas

      Ben, I’m so sorry for your story, but glad you are feeling relieved more than trod upon. I think that’s a common partner/caregiver mode: to be tolerant to the point of doormat to our sick partner’s moods and behaviors…usually with tragic results for us. Thanks for sharing your story; you sound like you were a caring, supportive husband. Too bad you were not appreciated for those qualities. I’d like to see the TV producers make a reality show about bipolar marriage. It would be quite instructional. – Elizabeth

    • mattie

      Thank you so much Ben, for writing your letter, i have read a lot of letters from other people and i am going thru the same things as them but they didn’t mention lying , cheating and extreme porn addiction and extrem spending, your letter is exactly what i’m going thru with my husband, but it started getting worse last year, he has always provided a good living for us but he spends it as fast as he makes it on his addictions, any way two years ago i was in an auto accident and had to have surgery, less than a month after surgery which he felt i was just faking, he never help me in any way and expected me to just go on like i was fine and then he went into a cycle and i caught him watching porn at the table where i was sitting looking at a gardening program on my computor, he was on his computer across the table from me, then he got up to use the restroom and i got up and started to go outside and happened to look down at his computer and saw what he was looking at, i was shocked looking at porn sitting across from me, i was afraid to say anything because of his temper, i waited for a couple of days and then i said something to him, also reminded him that we were christians and he had promised me he would not do that anymore and i told him i was upset that he had gotten so bold that he could set a our table watching porn with me right there, he flew into a rage, i tried to calm him down, several times that day, but it went on and on for two days, he never would ever get over his rage and i was afraid again for my life, he hurt me really bad, left and went to work, this isn’t the first time he has been abusive but it was the worst, like all the other times he acts like he didn’t do any thing, he says he doesn’t even remmeber any thing when he gets mad, this time i went to my neighbor house for help when he left for work and she called the police and he was charged with abuse by the state we live in, we went to court and he had a lawyer furnished by the state, he got up in court and said he had never abused me ever and i was a just mad because he would rather look at porn than me and i was just getting even, even thou the court had a dozen pictures of all the bruses on my body, him and his lawyer put me thru hell that day, the judge saw thru it and he was convicted, when court was over he walked out of the court and reached over and grabed my hand and held it until we got into the pickup, smiling the whole way, he apilled the judges ruling and were waiting to see what the higher court will do,i have left him several time and he makes my life a living hell, he stockes me, he non stops going to my job, he presures my family and friends, i’ve even got a restraining order on him before and it doesn’t stop him, finally he’ll wear me, with all that he does and he has even tried to comite suicide, and i’ll go back to him, things will be good for a time and i’ll find out about another affair or porn, etc and it starts all over again, it’s been the worst nine years of my life, one hand i feel guilting because i want to leave this drama filled world of his and on the other hand i’m afraid of what he’ll do to me or a member of my family, he has found so many other lady’s to be with but unlike your wife he won’t leave me and i pray he will and then i feel guilty because of what she’ll go thru, i’m not a young girl like the others andi don’t have any children with him, thank goodness,but i feel like all i can do is wait and hope some day this monster will leave for good

      • Elizabeth Atlas

        Mattie – Your husband may be sick, but that doesn’t give him the right to physically harm or threaten you (or anyone else). You need to report him to the police so they have a complete record of his abuses. Then talk to your local psychiatric hospital about having him involuntarily committed for being a threat to himself and others. Then get yourself into counseling, NOW. Acting like a victim is bait to a manipulative person, let alone someone with bipolar disorder who is not properly medicated.

    • Susan

      I can not believe that I just read your post. I am going through exactly what you have gone through with my bipolar husband. I got home today, three weeks ago to find my husband had left again. I am a Christian and have trusted the Lord in prayer daily. However, he has constantly lied and scamed me for almost six years of marriage. Before he left this time, he had lied to me about getting his pay checks for two weeks and used all of the money to buy himself a truck. He planned everything and just played me for a complete fool. I do not know where he is presently. He took most of his belongings while I was at a doctor’s appt. 30 miles out of town. I got home to find a nasty letter blaming me for him leaving once again. He was out of work for two years until last year and had his present job exactly 1 year. I learned that he gave a two week notice a month before he left. I have been a loving, caring, accepting, and extremely forgiving and caring wife. I am praying for God’s help. Thank you for sharing your post. It helps to feel that I am not alone in this craziness. My husband is also extremely narcissist and is a compulsive liar!

  17. Will

    My bi-polar wife was a very supportive and loving wife for almost all of our marriage 15 years, but after a pregnancy, somthing went very wrong within her, she drove me to the brink of break down and then wanted a divorce, she has treated me like hell since then and has changed so much I do not know her anymore. I have been asked would I take her back if she asked, which she has not nor given any indication she will, but I do not know if I can too much damage too much hurt, pain pill addictions, lying and possible cheating, it makes me wonder if any of our marriage was true or was it all a lie. Although I want to believe it was, somtimes I wish I had never met her.

    • Elizabeth Atlas

      Hi, Will. Thanks for sharing your story. I never cease to be amazed by how much influence our bipolar spouses have over our psyches. Sometimes I think we have our own special obsession!

      • Will

        Thank you Elizabeth, I can not speak for anyone else but for me, it has to do with an inner conflict. I am not sure what to do with her now, but I believe I have been an enabler with her and I can not do that anymore. Though a part of me will always love her, I am going to have to make it tough love, and I hope one day she will get the help she needs. Even if our marriage can not be saved.


  18. K M

    My husband is bipolar and after the six years of either daily temper tantrams or his overbearing need for physical comfort I am both physically and emotionally exhausted. And with the twist of fate bringing us 2 sets of 2 children from 2 different directions to raise I feel there is no other choice for me but to leave. I now have 4 children who do not understand the angry outbursts or the scarcasum and I can’t teach an angry child who has already gone through so much that being a bully is unexceptable when a grown man does it, or the tantrams or the selfish self centered behavior. If I am alone in a relationship then I would rather be truely alone without the heart wrenching behaviors of the “man” I fell in love with.
    Seriously thinking about getting this book to help the children and I recover from the warzone of a bipolar marriage.
    Truly Heartbroken and Alone

    • Elizabeth Atlas

      Kirsten, I’m not sure you’ll ever be “truly alone” with 4 children 🙂 That said, you won’t find argument from the hundreds of wives married to bipolar husbands that I’ve talked to that this illness is heartbreaking for families. I found that when I stopped wishing for things to be different and dealt with the reality that IF my spouse changed it would be a gift, not an expectation, I felt more in control of my options and was able to get over my heartbreak. “How” I did it was what I wrote my book about. I wish you peace.

  19. Liz

    My husband has all the signs of bi-polar even though he has never been officially diagnosed. His mother and daughter are also bi-polar and they feed off of each other. We have been togeather 4 yrs which is a record for him. It’s a constant roller coaster. He always has a new ideal and spends every penny that he can on it. He is like a gypsy and can’t stay in one place for any length and constantly creates a fantasy world that he tries to buy into reality. Everything is someone elses fault and the world is out to get him. He is only happy when he is spending money and having a good time. I can keep him somewhat stable as long as he doesn’t speak to his mom or daughter. This last time he left was right after my mom past away and they found spots in my breast.(still awaiting results) He has been back to visit a few times and calls every day to tell me he loves me and misses me. Yet he has spent 24,000 in 4 for months, gotten fired from his job, has stopped making payments on his vehicle..Never will he discuss anything to resolve the issues. He has never been violent towards me but he bully’s his way through no matter where he goes. It is so embarrasing. Fortunatly he doesn’t drink other then socially or do drugs. He is actually afraid of drugs. Now we live in two states and I only see him once a month. That is my sanity. Good Luck to all dealing with these issues….

  20. Ray

    Not sure if my wife has bipolar for a fact. She has not been diagnosed because our finances dont fit the expensive doctors. I am what she calls an over emotional husband. I enjoy cuddling her and watching a movie. I love the random “i love you”‘s throughout the day. I enjoy the passing kiss as we both hussle with our 4 children ( 6 m, 4m, 3f, and 12 month m. I believe she has bipolar disorder. It seems that small isssues are magnified into huge problems, things i have been relelntlessly hollared at has been, Not making a fresh batch of kool aid, running the pasta strainer in the dishwasher and her finding that a noodle remained on the strainer after the cycle, cuddling too much, not cuddling enough. She asked me to take the three oldest kids to a christmas parade and she stay behind witht the sick baby. Then gets upset with me for going without her. She allows her son the 4 m to spill juice on the floor, talk back to her, throw fits, break virtually every rule of the house, and speak to me with dispresspect. yet my daughter (3 f) get sent to her room for the entire day if she has an accedent in her diaper (having trouble potty training). or if she crys when the boys hit her or refuse to play with her. I work off shore and make very good money but it seems that when i get home the money is gone and spent on bills. Therefore no medical help for her. If i try to discuss my feelings with her she simply threatns to leave me. or tells me and my 3 f daughter to leave if we are so unhappy. Her previous marriage ended the same way. She treated him like crap and he stopped caring. I try not to go that route but it gets harder every day. She also believes that she has a problem but doesn’t appreciate disussing it. She is never wrong about anything and she is 100% confadent that she knows how to do everything even if she has 0 experience in the subject. I am alway to blame for things going wrong. if she goes to the store to get something and forgets a detail it is my fault for not reminding her. I have been called, lazy , useless, irrisposable, bad father, worthless, etc. she has called my daughter ,lazy, babyfied, a bitch, pussy, and said she will prbably grow up to be a whore because she started shaking her hips when i played music outside during playtime. Its not just me and my child she screams at. her own children 6m and 4 m are constantly being called pussys, assholes, little bitches, lazy, mfers, and worthless. at the end of the day as we lay in bed she tells me how much she loves me and appreciates me and appoligizes for what she has done. (well some of it). i have mentioned the 3f, 6m, and 4m, who i have not mentioned is the 12 month m. He really doesnt get anything bad from her. Infact she is totally obsesed with him. That is if she is not talking to friend onthe phone, over text,voice messaging, or at there home. She often leaves for 2 – 6 hours every other day to be with her friends across the stree and leaves me to care for the 4 children alone. (when im home from offshore of course) I am still looking for some sort of free treatment for her. I need all the luck i can get. When she is not in “a mood” the home is perfect. But let one minor detail go unchecked and this is what our happy home turns into immediatly.

    • Elizabeth Atlas

      Ray, I am not a psychiatrist, so I can’t diagnose your wife…but either are you. But from what I read, you and your wife are overly stressed managing 4 young children. Not everyone can pull that off without some kind of emotional release. In fact, I can’t think of anything harder than paying attention to one small child, let alone a house full of them. And then at the end you mention being “offshore?” As in, you’re not around most evenings? Maybe your wife is bipolar, who knows. But what she probably needs is a babysitter and time to herself to go out and get her hair and nails done every week…as in–a BREAK from those kids!

  21. diane taylor

    how do i get a copy of your book

  22. L

    These comments are helpful to read & to know I’m not alone. I have known my husband for 22. We’ve been married 17. He has always suffered from depression as long as I’ve known him. He experienced 3 life changing events ( all traumatic) before I met him. He was diagnosed w/ bipolar( the most difficult to medicate/treat , 6 years ago. We have 3 children (14,11,8). We are both in counseling, marriage counseling, our oldest son is aware of his illness. These past 2 years have been THE MOST difficult for ME. I am ALL for learning about how to take care of ME! I’m at that stage of realizing no matter how much MEDS, therapy, etc. he has things will never change. He can ONLY take care of himself & hold a job. I’m extremely thankful for that for his sake, however, the husband/ father role has diminished quite a bit. I know steps will have to be taken on my part. I Hve to be well physically & mentally to raise our 3 boys. This illness is torture for the person who has it & the spouse & children. Thank you for all of the comments.

    • Elizabeth Atlas

      L – Believe it or not, as soon as you realize that you have no control over your husband or his illness–but all the control in the world over yourself–your situation improves. So congratulations on your light bulb popping on! I would like to respectfully disagree that bipolar disorder is the most difficult to treat. It’s actually the easiest to treat of the mental disorders. The problem is that most patients break thru their medication after a time due to metabolism, stress, etc. So one way to help your family is to make sure your husband keeps his regular psych appts and that you schedule one immediately upon noticing when he acts like “he’s off his meds.” It always feels to me like psychiatrists are more chemists than “brain whisperers.” Even if you saw them once a week, they’d be tweaking dosages. It takes constant supervision. – Elizabeth

  23. L

    Thank you south for your words. Yes, I do see what you are saying about treating the bipolar. I am just at this stage where I am tired of “running to his doctors” reporting his behavior. There are a couple of “positives” w/ my husband. He has always wanted to take his MEDS, & see his therapists. It’s just that I am realizing, he can only take care of himself- that is the most he can handle. I also realize spouses w/ this illness have “tunnel vision”- also are very self centered/ selfish.(to the extreme). I appreciate your words. Thank you.

  24. Andrea

    Just stumbled upon this website…nice to hear there are other people out there in this situation. I’ve been married for a year and a half, my husband was diagnosed as bipolar ii last summer. While we were dating i noticed some issues with him drinking but after we were engaged he quit. We would fight but i disnt feel it was too out of the ordinary, it would get intense but never violent, etc. the week after we got married we started working together, same place, same time. I started to notice several quirks…obsessions, anxiety over the new job, paranoia, displaced anger. After a couple months he started drinking again and would get violent, he’s broken every door in the house. I’ve called the police twice and he’s been brought home by them once as well, he should have been arrested for drunk driving. Since his diagnosis things got a little better, for the most part as long as he is on his prescribed medication things are okay. However he doesn’t always take them, abuses prescription painkillers and abuses alcohol. The drinking situation was fairly under control until Sunday. I’m not sure what triggered him exactly (I assume not regularly taking medication). Anyways he was driving erratically, I left the car when I could, when he came back to find me he was already drinking a fifth. We went home and he became even more angry, breaking things, hiding my keys. I finally found my spare set and left. All night he said he was going to kill me and told me terrible things, nothing you would ever tell your wife. This morning it continued with the angry threats over the phone. Later in the afternoon he switched to I’m sorry etc. however he is drinking again at the house so I’ve chosen to stay away again( I value my teeth jk). From what I can tell this doesn’t seem to get better…we don’t have children and I think this is a good breaking point. He knows he has this mental illness, he forgets or just doesn’t care to take his medicine regularly. He also has other tools, access to counseling and as but he just won’t do it. I feel like I know he’s sick and it’s not really him when he flips but it’s getting harder and harder to forgive, not to mention the violence is escalating. However when he has it together I couldn’t ask for a better husband.

    • Elizabeth Atlas

      Andrea, the line was crossed when your husband threatened to kill you. Do NOT minimize murderous threats when your husband is not compliant or has broken thru his meds. You have a lot more than teeth to worry about. He’s obviously not in control of himself, and if he breaks doors, he can hurt you. It sounds like he has not gained any insight into his illness since his diagnosis, and that does not bode well for your marriage. It is time for you to re-draw the line for him. It is up to you, the well person, to set the boundaries; the sick person ignores or doesn’t recognize them. Please stop waiting for him to get better; please stop being a victim. Safety for you first…which may mean a restraining order and/or separate lives until he’s medically stable for at least 90 consecutive days. – E

  25. Barb

    Hi. I have been married to a bipolar man for 16 years. I knew he was sick when I married him, but I love him and wanted to make him happy. I have since given up on making him happy. He now wants nothing physically to do with me since sex is no longer a part of our relationship. He is very selfcentered and I am his caregiver and no longer feel like his wife. I want to end our marriage as I am tired of no one taking care of me (we don’t have any children). My husband is disabled and unemployed so he has no income. We have applied for disability but he has been rejected twice. So he cannot support himself and I work 2 jobs. I also take care of all the paperwork for disability. He now feels he should not have to do anything around the house so I am left with everything. He does take his meds and sees his therapist. I don’t know what to do since he cannot support himself and would be homeless. Thank you for reading this and helping me in any way you can with any advice you may have.

    • Elizabeth Atlas

      Barb, I can see how tired you are, but I strongly suggest you get counseling to find the strength to do what’s right for you. You don’t say whether your bipolar husband is taking medication or seeing a therapist regularly. These are what I call the “two deal breakers” in a marriage. You do not have the mental health training, nor the objectivity to “take care” of your husband. The more you give, the more he takes. And you’re letting him. The classic formula for burnout. Tackle one issue at a time. The first one is getting yourself help and support. – E

      • LaLa

        She does say that her husband takes meds and sees his therapist.

  26. Charles Gillihan

    One makes an oath that includes, ‘…through sickness and health…’. This includes the bipolar stuff. I have been married 23 years to a bipolar wife. On her meds, she is the greatest. When she goes off them it is hell on earth. Marriage is a covenant with contains oaths and vows with blessings and cursings attached; as in any other Biblical covenant. The only grounds for divorce are unrepentant adultery or physical desertion; and of course physical death. My wife deserted with my daughter a month ago. Last year she did that and cancelled her unbiblical divorce of ‘irreconcilable differences’. We care commanded to be reconciled one with another. As Jay Adams says, ‘…when you’re married, two sinners are living together. There is this myth of compatibility, which is primarily founded upon temporal activities or interests that are fading. We as Christians have sin natures and we have to ‘die daily’ as Paul says and work to reconcile and forgive. She is in Florida now and according to Tennessee law, I can file for desertion in 11 more months. I think I may do this, as over the years, I’ve had to take pills to calm my nerves due to her manic spending and raging verbally. The book of Ezekiel does say that God uses ‘herbs for the healling of man’, so I’m also praying for stability. I am left alone with a 20 yr old son. This is very hard, but I will persevere and know that it will ‘work together for my good’ (Romans 8:28). I pray for God to heal her mind if that is the problem; either a neurological defect or chemical imbalance. It almost appears like demon possession at times.

    Grace & Peace,

    Charles Gillihan
    Bartlett, TN

  27. Ivor

    HI Elizabeth, My wife informed me she was bi-polar about a month after we were married. Two years ago. For lots of reasons we were not able to court very much due to distance. But it did take a year before we did get married. We are in our 60’s. My first died 7 years ago, her first and ended in divorce 10 years ago because she was having seizures and diagnosed bi-polar. (I new about the former not the later) We met in 9th grade. And I found her again on the web by happenstance, I was not looking for her. Marriage life when good is very good. When events flare up and they are not weekly, but when they occur, they are pretty nasty. I worry mostly about the 70’s. What should I expect? I think I have made a mistake, but I do love here a lot. We are into our third day yesterday. Only happening in the evening before bed. After the episode, she goes to bed and I stay up and ponder the future. I know if I would have known about this in advance, i likely would have stayed away. I think if I were to leave, she would fall apart (how far I do not know) because it was caused by this problem. Her kids would be angry. Her family (sisters–I think would understand). This episode will likely pass, but then there is the next one……any advice would be appreciated.

    • Elizabeth Atlas

      Thanks for sharing your story on my blog. I believe it’s important for our community of spouses and significant others of those with bipolar disorder to see that the illness never “goes away” or is cured. When people enter into relationships, they must consider what life will be like in their 60s, 70s and 80s–and beyond. Bette Davis was right when she said, “Getting older isn’t for sissies.” I can’t tell you whether you should stay married or not. You have all the information you need right now to make that decision. What I will suggest is that you talk to your wife (when she’s feeling good, not in the middle of an episode) and find out more about her history of handling her illness. What worked for her to keep her stable longer? What didn’t? How often does she see her psychiatrist? Is she willing to make a you a full partner and allow you to talk to her psych and give him/her feedback on her day-to-day moods? While the psych cannot tell *you* anything about her case without your wife’s permission, you can certainly give the psych daily or weekly feedback that can figure into her treatment. The question yhou must ask yourself is, “I didn’t sign on for this, but am I ready to take on the responsibility of caregiver for the rest of my life?” There are no innocent bystanders in a bipolar relationship: “In for a penny, in for a pound.” – E.A.

  28. Susan

    I find this site to be extremely helpful. It is sometimes horrible being married to a man that is manic even while on meds. He currently has been gone for over three weeks and I do not know where he is. He obviously planned this last trip for a long time. It is painful to be played for a fool. I had no clue he was leaving and am still in a state of shock. Thank you for your insight on marriages to bipolar spouses. I feel that sometimes there are people that can not be helped. I love him dearly and have been supportive in every way. Any suggestions on what I should do?

    • Elizabeth Atlas

      I’m very sorry you’re going thru this tough time. Perhaps some of our other readers can offer their suggestions. Mine would be, “Seek a lawyer to protect your rights.” I’m not advising moving forward with a divorce, but you certainly want to be prepared if he goes in that direction.

      • Susan

        Thank you very much Elizabeth. At this point I have no idea what he is thinking. I have talked to a lawyer to weight my options. It would be helpful if he would just let me know an address of where he is. Obviously, he is hidding from me for what ever reason. If he comes to his senses, he will realize that the way he left and the threatening letter left for me to find are completely insaine. I feel that he is manic because for weeks before he left he was taking only half of his medication, not sleeping and loosing a lot of weight. I think that he likes being manic. However, outside of him being narcicisic, he is extremely angry. I was hoping at this point that I may have heard from him in some fashion. He is such a habitual liar and always tries to make me out to be the “bad guy”. I feel that he has convinced his family that I am a totally different person than the person that I am. Wow!, if they only knew what I have been through with him. I have only tried to be loving and supportive. He was out of work for two years and did nothing but lay on the couch all day and watch t.v. He told his family at one point that I did not want him to work. I never nagged him about not working and have tried to be extremely supportive of him during the job he has had for a year. He turned in a two week notice on May 18th and left June 13th. I have no idea about any of these plans. His letter states that he has a job in another town, a vehicle, and everything he needs. I am trying not to be consumed with all of this. He can be such a kind, loving and thoughtful man. The manic man is a monoster! He is double-minded in every respect. Thank you, again for your words.

      • Susan


        I just received a letter today without a return address. My husband has been gone for five weeks. He begins his letter stating that he is writing this letter to let me know that he is alive, working, and living his life! He also state in the letter that he thinks the world or me and wishes me the best. However, he says that I will never see him again if he can help it and to go on with my life. the letter is extremely conflicting. Does anyone have any suggestion as to what to do at this point? I love him, but realize he is off his medication and I do not think I can trust him or anything he says. He also left a lot of his belongings at home when he left. I realize that this is larger than I am and can only ask God for guidance. If you have any wisdom you could share with me, I would greatly appreciate your opinion. I feel like a mouse in a trap at this point.

        • Olivia

          The toddler mood sgwins are something not in the parenting books, but it really should be. Some days I wonder how many personalities can be in one little girl.Oh, and I have to agree – that key she’s holding would drive anyone to mood sgwins.

  29. Susan


    I value your opinion and would love to hear your input on my latest post. Thank you, again. It helps to read the numerous post and realize that I am not alone in this roller coaster nightmare of a ride.

  30. Susan

    Does anyone still use this website? I would love to hear anyones opinion on my 7/14 post. As of today, I still have not heard a word from my husband. It has been a long six weeks. I am just trying to hang in there and pray for God’s will. Thank you for any advise or suggestions.

  31. Nancy

    Hi. I am just at the beginning of a very difficult period in my life. My husband of 30 years has just been diagnosed as bipolar. His spending is out of control – enormous bills, secret credit cards, secret email accounts, etc… In my opinion he has been addicted to porn for many years. He lies and says he has stopped, but he doesn’t. This goes on and on and on. Just yesterday I found out that for the last couple of years, he has been seeing prostitutes all over the country, when he travels for his job. He also has seen them here in the town where we live. Each day, more of his lies are exposed. He just started counseling and was put on one type of medication, but he didn’t like the side effects, so he stopped. The doctor is going to try another one this week. I have 3 children, who do not live at home. They know about the spending, but not the porn and the prostitutes. I am so confused. As a Christian, I am trying to forgive him, but I am sick just thinking about what he has done to our family. I also don’t want to send a message to my children that it is all right to put up with this kind of treatment from your spouse. He has already alienated 2 of the children who live nearby. The 3rd one lives on the other side of the country. I just don’t know what to do next. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

    • Elizabeth Atlas

      Nancy, sorry to hear about your husband. Bipolar disorder doesn’t just “appear” out of nowhere, so even though you may have just gotten a diagnosis, my guess is you’ve been living with his symptoms for your entire 30-year marriage. Typically, the first reaction to a new diagnosis is denial, followed by medication non-compliance. Your husband requires lots of monitoring and therapy to get stabilized, and he may not be ready for that. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do about it, and forgiveness is a bit premature at this point, IMHO. Certainly, you can forgive him for his illness, which is not his fault. But you don’t have to forgive his bad behavior towards you and your family. Having been through it, I’d tell you to move out or have him move out until minimal standards are met; ie., no porn, prostitutes, compliance on medication for at least 6 weeks, etc. But I know that’s hard to do when you’re trying to be supportive and understanding. For now, all you can do is take care of yourself. That means get yourself into counseling (for your peace of mind) and find your local chapter of NAMI for more support and resources. – E

  32. Nancy

    Thank you for your quick response. I still feel so numb from all that is happening. Even though I knew about some of the spending, some of the porn, and the mood swings, this is like a bad dream. It seems like everyday I find out more that he has done wrong. This column is very helpful because I can see that I am not alone in this kind of situation. I will take your suggestions about counseling for myself and finding the local chapter of NAMI. Thank you again.

    • Susan


      I am so sorry to hear about someone else going throught the rollercoaster ride. I have not seen or talked to my husband in eight weeks. He sent me a letter without a return address stating that I would never see him again and to move on with my life. I can not separate or divorce him without putting a public ad in the local paper and this would embarass my entire family. I am not sure if he is with another woman or what he is up to. His letter stated that he is alive, working and living his life. He is off his medication and he was diagnoised with bipolar 1 five years ago. From my experience thus far, my husband does not like the side effects of the meds. and quits taking them. He says they make him tired and cause weight gain. I have been living with a monster for many years now. Please protect yourself financially and emotionally. I am going to a counselor to help me deal with the hurt, pain and stress of all of this. It helps, but every day is still a battle. Like you, I am a Christian and do not know what to do. Do you feel like you do not even know the man you married? My husband has a saved christian heart, but is filled with demons and using the bipolar for an excuse for his compulsive lies. I feel for you. I will be glad to listen if you need to vent. God Bless.

  33. Nicole

    My husband is bipolar and started meds about 2 months ago. So far we have not been able to attend any therapy, just meetings with his psychiatrist. First I am unsure where the mental illness ends and the “lazy i’m not gonna even try to make things better” mentality begins. I’m sure after living with this for years he has learned some bad habits. But sometimes i can’t tell if he is just plain lazy. (He has been looking into applying for disability since he finally found an excuse to not work. His job of 7 years is horrible and he just plain refuses to make a serious effort to find a better job -over the past 5 or so years. I do not think that SSI is necessary and think that he is capable but unwilling). Second I want to tell him truthfully how I feel about this but am unsure if I need to be tough or keep it to myself (for now).

    • Elizabeth Atlas

      Nicole, you say your husband has been on meds for 2 months? That’s a huge step in the right direction. Good for him. If you read other comments on this blog, you’ll see that many spouses would envy you just for that fact. Remember high school chemistry? Meds are adult chemistry. Everyone’s metabolism is different, and so is their adoption or reaction to their meds. It may take a year for your husband to stabilize on the final bipolar cocktail his p-doc prescribes. In the meantime, think about this: Stop waiting around for him to “get better” and “quit being so lazy.” He needs your support, not more stress from you. In order to be supportive, you need to learn about his illness and what to expect, so you can ask good questions and facilitate good care for him while he’s so vulnerable. Bipolar will be calling all the shots for the foreseeable future. If he gets on disability today, he can always get off later. Figure out what’s best for him now. Then get your own counselor to figure out if you have what it takes to stay in this marriage as a care-giver, cheerleader and primary breadwinner. If not, get out and quit torturing both of you.

      • Matt

        Hi am Matt. I have just got of a 2 year relationship with my ex-wife who I know getting into the relationship with Bipolar, but didn’t mention which type she was. As I got to know her I was able to expect it that she was bipolar, which led to tell she was Type I. In the beginning, it was continuous ups and downs with conflict and I was awhile very patient with her, which I would try to give her space for both of us to regroup routinely. At begin was living with her parents and the wanted her gone, essentially pawning her off to me, because they were done dealing with it. So, six month into the our relationship she moved in and thing progress where it start fair and went to complete chaos around are wedding time six months later… After the wedding things turn for the worst when went into an episode and was diagnosis as Bipolar 1 and Borderline Personality Disorder, which put in position where I made a choice 3 months after the episode to leave her, because I know I couldn’t hand the illness on top of the controlling abandonment issues. We after the back up were doing the sexual hook up thing, but I called it done. I felt it was too much pain guilt. My issue is I don’t know were to begin for support, cause I NAMI here. They focus more rebuilding and family support, what are other options or advice do you have for my situation. Like most people here say extended family and friends don’t get it or they believe she was faking it..I actually try to set help from her parents, but they passive aggressive about and don’t know what is like in a relation scenario. What do you recommend for away of recovery for me.

        • Elizabeth Atlas

          Matt, I’m sorry you’re in so much pain. A bad break up is always hard; bipolar issues make it 10X harder, I think. You were strong to break it off. Now you need to talk to a therapist who has had experience counseling people in bipolar relationships. I’ve found their advice and support much more helpful than a “run-of-the-mill” therapist. If you have insurance, interview therapists by phone before committing to an appointment. If you don’t, ask NAMI to recommend one. They know the good ones. If you don’t have the funds, find your local Family and Childrens Services or other faith-based counseling service that will scale their fee to your budget. Good luck. — Elizabeth

  34. Dawn

    I am married to a man I feel is bi- polar. It took me years to figure it out. The anger, wasted money, unfinished projects, not being able to hold or get a job have taken thier toll on me. I am so happy when I’m away from him. I no longer enjoy the good moments because I know they are temporary. He won’t see a doctor and everything is my fault. The fighting has created created the opposite environment I had dreamed for our children. I’m so done. Life is just too short to be a whipping boy. He has been married at least 5 times before me. He lies about everything. I live in my parents rental and don’t know how to get him to leave. We lost everything due to his illness. I was financially independent before him. I have always loved him and understood it wasn’t His fault . But I’m a happy person my nature and he has crushed that. I can’t even have friends due to his jealousy. I feel guilty for giving up but I just want to be free from the negativity and lies oh and the verbal abuse. I was lucky to be a head turner in my day and now I’m a ” fat ugly b###h” every month. This is a horrible disease for anyone it touches directly or indirectly. I am so sad I had children with this man. They deserved better. I wish I could stick it out but after everything I read I just want to run. I have caught him numerous times contacting other women etc. It just hurts too much to live like this.

    • Diane

      I totally understand and get it. I too am married to a bipolar man. I think us the caretakers just lose ourselves in the entire event of living with a bipolar person. Matt does not lie or cheat, some times yells unexpectedly and sleeps a lot. Now he is in ECT treatments willingly for wanting to commit suicide, thank god he is trying, but it just sucks the affection right out of the relationship. I am not sure I still love him and that makes me feel guilty. I am so numb I cant tell. He has been out of work for three months now on long term disability. At least we had insurance but my concern is what next?
      I hope you find a solution that works for you I have just been trying to accept it and stay. I am too old and have physical disabilities with my joints. But if you can take back your life do it cheating on you is where it should stop? Good luck

  35. Diane

    I have been married to a man for 10 years and together 12. Recently after a long road to finding the source of my husbands depression we found he is bipolar. What has made me so dam mad is that the doctors knew it years ago. If I only knew what it was I could of dealt with it better. I have been through hell. With all the meds he takes, the depression and now ECT treatments I really do not think I know the real Matt. How could you the illness is Matt. I am so tired, lonely and afraid.I wish there was something I could do. I feel I am too old and crippled to leave. I have had 19 joint surgeries. I feel lost, trapped, disillusioned and in need of affection. I have tried putting him first so long I have lost my self. I just cannot imagine this continuing. I have prayed and ask god for strength, wisdom and courage. It is a day to day challenge. Someone help! Very sad for my hubby and the way things are going!

  36. carla

    i was just wondering is anyones spouse has done ilegal things been to jail prison and continously lies to you all blaming the illness. i am at a point that i have to get out of this 33 yr marriage. it hurts it feels like a death.. but i don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel and i don’t really love him anymore i wrestle with guilt of where he’ll live how he’ll survive when i leave..but what about me.. i need some peace or i’m gonna fall apart. like others mentioned i have no one to talk to family doesn’t understand and friends have nothing to say but why do u stay.. u r just repeating insanity over and over. please advise…thanks carla

  37. Pete Giardina

    I’ve been married for 19yrs with a bipolar wife. And I have depression. It keeps getting harder every year. Help me….

  38. Susan

    I find all of your comments applicable to my life. I have been married to my bi-polar husband for twenty five years now and I can honestly say that there are no magical answers as to dealing with someone with this condition. I also advocate that no one should put themselves out by trying to make life more comfortable for their bi-polar spouses. After all, they don’t try to make life comfortable for us, do they? We are all onto a loser and it is up to the individual concerned to ‘throw in the towel’ if, and when they feel it to be necessary. I am no saint, and neither am I a martyr, however, I am a survivor who gets out the boxing gloves and gives back as good as I get. I have chosen to stay, but I do not recommend this decision lightly. Fighting is your only weapon, and the life of a lone warrior is not to be undertaken lightly!

  39. Michael

    Hi: I just finished reading a number of the post on this website and its amazes me how similar the issue we all have are. My wife is an RN and has bi polar. She has been hospitalized twice and is now on lithium. We she’s manic and angry she tries to stab me with steak knives.
    Her grandfather may have had bi polar as he committed suicide (in a pretty violent way). It now appears that one of my daughter may also be bi polar

    My wife cannot keep a job because she cannot handle stress and our financial lives have been destroyed because of her continued job loss. I’m very angry with her. There is no sex life and she insists that she can work as a nurse.
    We have had to file for bankruptcy and our lost our home.
    For the sake of our children I have done everything I can to keep our family together but I just so very tired. I don’t know how much more I can take.

  40. PSM

    I am the bipolar husband. Married also most a quarter of century. My wife is incredibly supportive! I take my meds, still learning how to manage triggers and meet with a counselor weekly. Living with bipolar is possible but it does take lots and lots of work.

    • Elizabeth Atlas

      Congratulations on a successful marriage. You are doing your share; I’m certain that’s made a big impact on your success. Many spouses of those with bipolar do all the “heavy lifting” and become bullied enablers. Would love to hear more about successful strategies you and your wife use to navigate the good and bad times. – Elizabeth

    • Shil

      Hi, please share your experiences on living with bipolar successfully…

  41. Inge

    Read a few of the comments, my husband was diagnosed with high functioning bipolar II just over a week ago. I think it has just hit me, and I am in tears, sad, angry and very much in love with my husband. I am blessed he is able to hold a job, and feel frustrated that I lost so much including moving countries to be with him, unable to work until migration papers are in order and being blamed for all his misery . I am frustrated because my poor teenage daughter has to cope with his moods, when it was my choice to marry him 5 years ago. I am very alone and financially broke, because of the big move we had to make and my husband’s choice of buying houses, and now a boat, and always no money left in the bank. I am frustrated that I abandoned my balanced life and savings plans in order to do what my husband wanted (including us moving country) (mind you I am happy with the country itself). I am tired of being blamed for all his misery and the constant threats of divorce if I don’t pick up myself and look the perfect woman, wife and earn lots of money. Is it just my husband or is it a common symptom of bipolar to blame all their misery upon their partner or anyone else that does not fit their way of thinking at that particular time. Love to hear from you and getting some helpful tips on helping me understand my husband’s illness. I have plans to return to a more relaxing and stable environment, staying in one place and saving some money (once I am allowed to work in this country ). I also plan to get involved into some sort of health activity (again once I am allowed to work). But what can I do right now. I understand I am having a strong grief reaction and the true realization that my husband has a permanent illness, that I have to live with. I want this marriage to work , the sickness and health.

    • Elizabeth Atlas

      The worst ways to live with a bipolar spouse is to wait to see what his or her mood is before deciding what kind of day you are going to have. Yes, you must grieve the confirmed diagnosis. But give yourself a deadline (say, 30 days), and then get out of victim mode as quickly as you can. You may not be able to work for money yet, but you can volunteer at a school, non-profit, art museum, etc., and get to know people in the community. If you have a NAMI organization nearby, they always need help. You’ll learn more about the illness and how you and your daughter can cope with your situation. Don’t isolate yourself by knowing only your husband. Make new friends who can ultimately be supportive to your situation. Yes, he may get mad. But he can be mad while you are out having a life. Set ground rules with your husband the next time he’s having a good day. Don’t be a doormat. It’s not fun to be yelled at and bullied, and you shouldn’t put up with it. The more you stand up for yourself, calmly, but forcefully, the less likely he is to escalate that kind of behavior. Good luck – Elizabeth.

  42. Anonymous

    I just came across this site and wonder if any wives are dealing with a bipolar husband who has an addiction to porn. We’ve been married over 10 years and it has become unbearable for me since he is now looking at porn on his laptop while I’m in the same room with him. We don’t have a normal sex life anymore and I have gotten to the point of telling him he either wants me in his life or the porn. He doesn’t even turn me on anymore. He says he wants me, but he has said that in the past. Is this just a vicious circle?

    • Elizabeth Atlas

      Yes, unfortunately, porn addiction is a common symptom of untreated bipolar. You are not alone. If you can’t get him to go to therapy or get his pdoc to review his meds, go to a counselor yourself to get help dealing with your feelings of betrayal and being repulsed. (Also unfortunately, this is a growing addiction among many populations, not just those with bipolar disorder. The internet makes it much too easy to to go down that rabbit hole.) Here’s an overview article on bipolar and porn addiction you can read. Good luck. – Elizabeth

  43. introspector

    I am a husband and father who suffers from bi polar disorder. I was having a bad day and was ruminating on some suicidal ideation and in my search for a bit of hope or inisght i found this page. To be perfectly candid this page really nailed in the self loathing and sense of being a burden to my wife that drives some of the suicidal ideation I struggle with. You have taken a mental illness with a pretty wide spectrum and essentially created and reinforced a stigma about merely having it. Instead of acknowledging a wide variety of circumstances you seem to speak on anyone and everyone who has the disease as automatically being a stressor in their loved ones life; a burden to choose to bare. I only created a login to express the deep amount of sadness I feel after visiting your page. For years I have struggled internally but have somehow managed to be a positive part of my wifes and my childrens lives. My wife and I are a team and we deal with my illness together. I care for my children and for anyone to suggest that I am a danger to them just by having a diagnosis with such a wide spectrum of variation is appalling. I have all the sympathy in the world for those who suffer at the hands of extreme circumstances that transpire from this illness and whatever benefit there may be had from having a place to share those circumstances I absolutely applaud. What I cannot stomach is the reinforcement of a stigma towards an entire population of people who suffer from the illness who are grouped into these extreme cases by association of their diagnosis. This page proves that though in its extreme forms there are unfortunate events and collateral damage to be suffered, yet on the whole the illness is still woefully misunderstood and misrepresented. I urge anyone else in my position who happens upon this page not to ever doubt your ability to lead a fulfilling life in spite of your illness and what people will assume about you. Anecdotal evidence in this situation is not enough to brazzenly categorize 5.7 million people into one negative category or to presume to be able to give any useful predictions without intimate first-hand knowledge . Its simply too broad for you to speak in such a precise manner on.
    The only reason I share any of this is because there will be someone else after me who suffers from the illness( and manages to deal with it in a healthy manner)and will feel the stab of despair and pain upon seeing first hand how some people view them.
    How can there be hope when you paint such a helpless picture? Sharing stories and offering support is awesome but i guess i just feel like the overall tone leaves the future looking dismal. But to be completely fair I am having a bad day and I may be just looking at this page and taking it in reactively.

  44. lifeisbeautiful

    As folks try to get treatment in the US, it seems that we bump into a roadblock that an individual is not an ‘imminent risk to themselves or others.’

    Has anyone contemplated (or tried) going to another locality, e.g. outside the US, to see if civil liberties are different and might accommodate an involuntary admission? I wonder how many people would be helped if, indeed they had a regimen of treatment including medication and therapy?

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