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How to Live With a Bipolar Wife

By Kay Ireland ; Updated August 14, 2017

David Karp, Ph.D., a professor of sociology at Boston College, calls some forms of mental illnesses "contagious diseases," in the sense that the person with the mental illness is not the only person affected by it. When you have a wife with bipolar tendencies, then you know that daily life can be an up-and-down roller coaster, and that her moods sometimes are unexpected. But your marriage isn't over. You can work together with your wife to preserve your marriage through the disorder.

  1. Keep track of the spectrum of her disease. Watching and observing carefully so that you know the very worst of her moods and the very best can help you understand her moods, and to know the severity of them. It can also brace you, so that you know what to expect, and aren't surprised when her mood rapidly changes.

  2. Take her to her doctor appointments, whether they are medical or psychiatric. When in these appointments, you can ask the health care provider about solutions and any other questions that you may have. Sitting in on her psychiatric appointments can help you learn more about the disease, any triggers, and the medication that she may need to take. Just make sure it's OK with your wife, as well as the doctors, that you come along.

  3. Accept that the person that you married is not the same person as the one with bipolar disorder, if she developed the disorder after you wed. With medication and therapy, she may come back to be the person that you married, but expecting her to always be the fun, loving person that you first married is unrealistic and can set you up for anger and disappointment. Accept her the way that she is now, with hope toward the future that she can one day control her disorder with the help of medication and therapy.

  4. If she was already diagnosed with the disorder when you were dating and married, be careful to not compare her to other women. It can make her upset to know that you wish she were more like other men's wives. Let her know that you accept her as is, and that you're willing to love and work with her through the disorder

  5. Take time for yourself. Taking care of a wife that suffers from bipolar disorder can be draining and thankless work. Make sure that you escape to enjoy a hobby, some physical exercise or see a therapist on your own. Taking time for yourself recharges you so that you are better able to handle her bipolar episodes.

  6. Avoid taking her outbursts personally. When on the lower mood end of the spectrum, your wife may say hurtful things or lash out toward you. Know that this is the disorder talking, and not her. She loves you and is grateful for your support through her episodes, even if it doesn't seem like it. Console yourself by knowing that she doesn't mean the things that she says when she is angry.

  7. Speak to your children, if you have them. They need to know that their mother has a disorder, so that they know not to be hurt or angry by her outbursts and fits. Assure them that you are doing everything that you can to help her, but that she'll need time to recover.

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