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Marital Crisis

Question:

I am having a lot of marital trouble lately. I have been diagnosed as Bipolar II, and my husband is Bipolar I. We bash heads all the time, but he is able to control his problem better than I can. We fight constantly, and we barely even make love anymore. I am just not interested in it. I am on medication, and I just totally lost my Libido. We are only 22 years old, and our marriage is falling apart. We have been together for 3 years. The first 2 years were wonderful. Now that we have more stress in our lives, our disorders are more and more prominent. Today, those old feelings of suicide popped into my head again, and haven’t been there for a while. Please help.

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Answer:

Between the bipolar illness and the marital crisis you two have got a complex set of problems going on here. It might make sense to consider each problem individually in order of importance to arrive at a plan for action. First, I think the suicide issue must be dealt with and stabilized. As a bipolar patient, you are susceptible to wide mood swings that can lead you towards suicide. The stress of your marriage can’t be helping either. I would say the number one thing for you to do at this point in time is to work with your doctor to: 1) keep your mood as stable as possible, and 2) to have a concrete plan for dealing with suicidal crises. This is more important than dealing with your marriage right away, as it will do you no good to be married if you end up committing suicide. As you are dealing with the mood-stabilization and suicide issues, you might also talk to your husband about getting the two of you into marital counseling. Hopefully you will both see the importance of having a marital therapist help you to begin to problem solve your issues, and will make an appointment with a qualified marital therapist as soon as possible. A good marital therapist is an impartial third-party who can act as a ‘traffic cop’ to make sure that both of you get to tell your story without yelling at each other, and who can make suggestions that can get you both back on the road towards having a healthier marriage again. Although not free, the price of therapy is not excessive, and should be thought of as an investment in the quality of your shared lives. You say that your sexual life is not doing well but you don’t suggest how this fact plays into the other difficulties you are describing. I wonder which came first – the marital strife or the lack of libido. Sometimes loss of interest in sexuality can literally be a side effect of being on medication (as you are). Of course, it’s also hard to want sex with a partner which whom you always fight. To the extent that your loss of sexual desire is linked to your marital problems, I think you can expect desire to return some as you are able to work out your differences. If your loss of desire is a side effect of your medicines, you’ll want to talk to your doctor about how to manage it better. There may be alternative medicines you can use, or other practices you can engage in that could help things.

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