Dating your spouse

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Violence was a particular worry for partners when their spouse was manic.

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I was trying to usher Erin out the door for a date. " "I have no idea," Garrison said, looking confused, "but I think it ends with kissing." When a couple spends time alone each week, their levels of , positive communication and sexual satisfaction are more than three times higher than those who don't spend that time together.

Unfortunately, our youngest daughter, Annie, who was 4 at the time, didn't want Mommy to leave. That means you might be able to dramatically increase these important areas of your marriage by simply dating your wife! The key to a great date is to make sure you don't administrate your marriage when you go out — don't have conversations about finances, household responsibilities, problems with the kids or sensitive issues.

A huge proportion of the emails and messages I receive are from people who need information and support for relationship issues that arise out of one (or both) partner’s bipolar disorder. A common – but staggering – statistic that gets bandied about is that 90% of marriages involving at least one bipolar spouse will end in divorce. During episodes of mania, someone with bipolar disorder is likely to do things that are particularly destructive. For example, a married person with bipolar disorder is often not aware of the full impact their disorder has on their partner, children, or other family members.

A 2001 study by Dore and Romans found significant others reported serious difficulties in their relationships with the bipolar partner when s/he was unwell, with considerable impact on their own employment, finances, legal matters, co-parenting and other social relationships.

This study has one serious limitation in that it included only committed spouses – not those who have divorced the bipolar sufferer.

(And as the divorce statistics show, there are a great many of these.) What is being presented here is a conflicting and contradictory portrait of the bipolar spouse: On the one hand we are see the huge divorce rate, on the other we have research showing marriage to someone with bipolar disorder is pretty typical of marriage in general.

There is also sometimes an infectious, contagious type of quality to bipolar disorder when one spouse is afflicted. Compulsive and obsessive behavior or grandiose schemes that alienate their husband or wife. Staying up late, being undependable in their job, around the house, in their co-parenting and so on, all of which are far more destructive and disruptive than they may realize. Sexual obsession, including hypersexuality, preoccupation with inappropriate or uncharacteristic sexual activity, and infidelity. For the spouse who is NOT bipolar, the consequences of divorce are pretty much the same as for anybody else: 1. For the bipolar spouse, the divorce may lead to a number of difficulties that compound their mental, emotional, physical, and financial difficulties.

The non-bipolar partner, and the marriage itself, takes on a “bipolar life of its own” as the non-bipolar spouse see-saws between solicitous and extreme care-giving during their bipolar husband’s or wife’s depressive episodes, and feelings of blame, resentment, anger and betrayal when their spouse is in the manic phase of bipolar disorder. They may get on with life and be happier and healthier, either as single people or as part of a new couple. They may regret the break-up of the marriage and wish they had sought counseling and other solutions. As Goodwin & Jamison point out in the most authoritative textbook on bipolar disorder, , many studies show that living alone or being single often leads people to stop taking their medication and complying with their treatment plansin general. In fact, research has shown that there is little or no difference between the state of the marriages where one spouse has bipolar disorder but is in remission, and other married couples in general.

Manic behavior is more likely to be perceived as malicious and deliberate, especially after the partner with bipolar disorder has been stable for a while and acting in a more loving, consistent, and predictable manner. It will come as no surprise to learn that bipolar divorce rates are high. In other words, marriage to a person with bipolar disorder who is in treatment and not experiencing any episodes is pretty much the same as being married to a “well” person.

Being in a committed relationship with someone who has bipolar disorder is a tremendous challenge. The statistics vary according to the source, but most experts quote rates two or three times higher than the national average. Spouses with bipolar disorder are likely to have a different impression of their marriage than their husband or wife.

Is it possible to have a happy and healthy relationship if you have bipolar disorder or are married to someone with bipolar disorder?

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