Mental illness in marriage is growing more common these days. Dealing with such events can be extremely difficult for both partners involved.
The stress that is put on a marriage when one partner is suffering with a mental illness can be astronomical. What was once a happy, loving relationship has now turned into a cycle of caring for a partner’s illness.
Taking care of a mentally unwell spouse is a loving thing to do. But, it can also be exhausting for both spouses.
Things are certainly no easier for the spouse with a mental illness. Dealing with sudden anxiety and learning to cope with sudden personality changes within themselves can be difficult. But it doesn’t have to mean the end of a healthy marriage.
No matter which side you’re on, mental illness in marriage can be a draining and overwhelming experience. Here are 10 ways you can cope with mental illness in your marriage.
For the Spouse Dealing with a Mental Illness
Practice Marriage Fitness
Exercise has been associated with improving mental health for decades. Couples participating in marriage fitness can both reap the benefits of exercising together.
Going for a run or brisk walk for at least 30-minutes each day with your spouse is great for lowering anxiety, keeping your body healthy, bonding with your spouse.
Do a Regular Marriage Check-In
Communication is the key to any healthy, happy marriage. In order to restore the bond in your marriage, you must be able to talk about your mental illness.
Many couples find a weekly or monthly marriage check-in session to be incredibly helpful in improving their communication. Sit down together and share some things you would like to work on in your marriage, with your illness, and as a couple.
Don’t fall so deeply into despair that you can’t pull yourself out of it. Therapy can help you process your feelings. Your counselor can also help teach you different tools to cope with your problems and help you live a fuller, less encumbered life.
Couples counseling can also be beneficial when you are dealing from mental illness in marriage. It gives you and your spouse the opportunity to speak openly about your illness and discuss how you deal with issues of frustration or feelings of worthlessness and get back to a happy, healthy marriage.
Take it One Day at a Time
Only you know what it’s like to live with your mental illness. Whether you have severe anxiety, are bipolar, or have an eating disorder, your mental health is your own.
Know your limitations and stick with them unless you feel completely comfortable going outside of your comfort zone. Take things one day at a time. Do not beat yourself up for something that you cannot control.
The moment you begin comparing your life to those around you is the same moment that you choose to be unhappy. Your life may not be the way it used to be, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have an enjoyable, fulfilling marriage to your partner. Stop comparing yourself to others.
Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, embrace the things you can.
Tips for the Healthy Spouse
Understand and Educate
Watching your spouse change from someone who was full of life and love to someone fraught with depression, sometimes even irrationally, from your point of view, can be incredibly frustrating.
In order to live with mental illness in your marriage, you must understand that this is not your spouse’s fault. They do not want to feel this way or bring conflict into your marriage.
Educating yourself about mental illness can help you relate to and understand your partner on a deeper level.
Have an Outlet
Are you spending so much time caring for your partner that you’re finding nobody is left to take care of your emotional needs? If you are not the spouse suffering from a mental illness, it can be highly beneficial for you to have a close friend or family member to confide in.
Joining your partner in marriage fitness can also help you both to reduce the stress and anxiety in your lives.
Don’t Take it Personally
It can be hard not to take things personally when your spouse is taking their feelings out on you, but remind yourself that this is the illness talking – not your spouse.
It is equally important not to become a doormat for your spouse. They should know that you will love and support them through any hardships in your marriage. However, you should still be able to tell your partner when they have crossed the line or hurt your feelings.
Acknowledge Your Spouse Will Change
Your spouse is not their illness, but that does not mean their illness will not affect on their personality. Instead of trying to fight against this inevitable change, learn to roll with the punches.
Get to know your spouse again and learn to embrace their new qualities. For example, they may be less outgoing but more empathetic to others now that they are dealing with a mental illness. Instead of focusing on the negative things that have changed, look for the good.
Show Love and Patience in Difficult Times
Having a spouse who has depression, PTSD or other mental illnesses can be extremely frustrating. At times, you may even feel like your spouse is purposely pushing you away.
It is important for you to show your spouse love, patience, and understanding during this difficult time. Remember that those who are depressed often feel alone and unlovable. You must show them that you love them no matter what happens.
Keeping the lines of communication open will help you tremendously when dealing with mental illness in marriage.
If you want a healthy relationship, you need to let go of your insecurities. Low-self esteem and jealousy can eat away at your relationship and create distance between you and your spouse. The best relationship advice you will ever hear is to learn to love yourself. Once you love yourself and build confidence, the rest will follow.
Author Bio : Rachael Pace is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.