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Trying To Save 37 Years Of Marriage With My Bipolar Husband

Question:

I have been married for 37 years to my husband, most of which has been fine if not great at times. Seven years ago the plant at which he worked closed and, at 50 years of age, he had to find new employment. We lost everything but, as I told him, we did not lose each other, our children. But, to him he had failed. Soon after we lost my father as well, a man my husband considered his best friend.

About two years ago I noticed changes and so did our children. He became withdrawn, moody (always had been moody to a great degree). One day he lashed out at me that he knew I had had an affair nearly thirty years before. That accusation went from that to that he knew I also had an abortion due to that affair. No matter how much I deny it, and am extremely hurt by it, he insists.

It is awful. I get woke up at night and questioned. He has anxiety attacks calling or texting me from work with more accusations while saying he can’t function. His family and I finally convinced him to get help. At that time he was diagnosed first as severely depressed and then to a diagnosis of Bipolar type 2. He is on meds now but his accusations have gotten worse. He will get through one accusation and scenario and will soon follow up it up with another. I told him it is due to his illness but he insists that I am using that as an excuse and that I would willingly make him ill so I don’t have to admit what I “did” all those years ago.

I am now at a point where I am not sleeping at all. I had already had problems with sleep due to fibromyalgia, but now it is nearly non-existant. I cry all the time because I can’t seem to get through one day with this man I have loved nearly all of my life without him accusing me. If I respond it becomes horrible and if I don’t respond I feel tried and convicted. He now tells me that if I take a polygraph and I pass he will be fine and it will prove it to me and to him that he isn’t
Bipolar. His sister was diagnosed bipolar just three years ago. He says that he can prove that I am not lying if I simply take the test.

I don’t know what to do any longer. The Guidance Center he goes to put him on meds but no counseling yet. They explanation they need his “feelings” to even out with the meds. That was nearly a month ago. I truly love my husband, and I have gone through a literal hell on earth these past two years. I want to be with him, live the rest of my life with him, but who is going to fix me even if they manage to fix him? How do I learn to handle his moods, his aggressions, his accusations, and now his total lack of interest?

I told him yesterday, “You don’t bring me flowers anymore.” It took him a minute but he understood. My lover, my best friend, is gone. I feel alone and isolated from family and from friends. I am supposed to be strong for him but how can that happen when I can’t even be strong for me. Each time he accuses me and adds more to the story I am left feeling overwhelmed and at a loss.

I don’t know where to turn. I need sleep and I need help.

Thank you

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Answer:

You seem to be aware that your husband’s accusations are totally irrational. In fact, when you try to reason with him it’s even worse. You are caught in a cycle of mental illness combined with problems of aging and loss of his former work and his friend, your father. At the same time, it feels to you like you have lost your husband and best friend. In many ways this is true.

It’s important for you to understand that your husband’s jealousy is delusional. Delusional beliefs are always untrue and distorted. They result from his Bipolar Disorder. That is why the Guidance Center is reluctant to start psychotherapy with him. While he is delusional he they fear that he will not be open to psychotherapy. I don’t agree and, in my opinion, his psychotherapy should begin now.

In an interesting interchange of delusional thinking problems, when you tell him that his jealousy is the result of his illness, he attacks you for trying to make him be bipolar. In other words, he rejects the idea of having this illness and  believes that his jealous thoughts are real and that is bipolar diagnosis is not.

In any case, there are a number of things you can do:

1. There is no reason why this should interfere with your relationship with friends and family. It’s important that you see them and normal your life. Don’t make his illness your illness by cutting your ties to people.

2. There is no reason why you cannot ask for psychotherapy for yourself at the Guidance Center. In point of fact, you need all the help and support you can get and that is why you need supportive psychotherapy.

3. You really need to sleep in order to protect both your physical and mental health. Insist that your husband not wake you up while you are sleeping. If you continue to have trouble sleeping you can speak to your medical doctor about it and ask his advice.

4. While your husband is at work, do not stay home. You need to be out and socializing with people. It’s important that you find ways to get your mind off of this problem while he is away.

5. Considering the amount of stress you have it would be a good idea for you to attend groups that do meditation and tai chi. Local community centers usually have these types of groups. Yoga is also excellent. These things help greatly. 

Best of Luck

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