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What Mental Illness Means for Your Marriage

What Mental Illness Means for Your Marriage

By Teresa Atkin for YourTango.com.

The heartbreaking realities of divorce include the high split rate for people with mental illnesses. A multinational study of mental disorders, marriage and divorce published in 2011 found that a sample of 18 mental disorders all increased the likelihood of divorce — ranging from a 20 percent increase to an 80 percent increase in the divorce rate. Addictions and major depression were the highest factors, with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) also significant.

More from YourTango: The Top 5 Mistakes That Lead To Divorce

Elsewhere, researchers have shown a strong link between personality disorders and elevated divorce rates, with antisocial personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder having the highest rates. The authors accepted that there was insufficient research on narcissistic personality disorder to quantify its effect on divorce, although anecdotal evidence strongly suggests a link. With the reported increase in narcissistic traits in the U.S., we are likely to see this as an increasing category.

From my observation, I would estimate that 80 percent of the people who attend my divorce recovery classes suffer from a mental illness or disorder, or have dealt with a partner with one or more mental health conditions. The challenges of being married to a person with a mental illness or disorder are often made considerably worse during the divorce process, and an individual with a mental health challenge will see their symptoms worsen during divorce.

Many people with mental health concerns have additional barriers to achieving intimacy and have trouble consistently engaging in behaviors that support a marriage. The top two mental health conditions that contribute to divorce have been reported to be major depression and addictions. In addition, bipolar disorder seems to be related to divorce by virtue of how long and how severe the depressive episodes are and the amount of life stress associated with a manic episode (for example: debt incurred or partner betrayed by cheating). The wonderful book An Unquiet Mind, written by Kay Redfield Jamison in 1995, vividly describes the author’s experience of living with bipolar disorder.

More from YourTango: 6 Shocking Truths About Divorce

Anxiety is another mental health condition that can severely affect a relationship. Someone with chronic anxiety tends to seek a high amount of emotional support from a spouse, and I have seen an increase in impatience from the non-anxious spouse. Some anxious clients also seem to experience an increase in their personal stress levels just by being in a relationship, and some decide to end the relationship themselves to relieve that tension.

Depression seems to affect the divorce rate by virtue of lack of engagement in the relationship as well as not being able to fulfill family or work expectations. Men sometimes show depression through anger, and many female clients have told me how difficult it is to live with constant irritability, hostility and angry outbursts. The spouse of a depressed person may take on additional responsibilities in the family and finances, which leads to resentment and burnout. I have had a number of clients who, because of a depressed spouse, have had to take on family responsibilities in addition to already-demanding jobs — while feeling powerless to make changes.

Addictions are also often associated with a lack of personal responsibility, and they frequently propel the other spouse into over-responsibility. A person with an active addiction is unlikely to be adequate at intimacy, as their priority becomes fulfilling the addictive desire. Another behavior associated with addicted people is the tendency to blame the world and other people for their problems; this does not make for a healthy marriage.

Every day, those who experience mental health illnesses or disorders and their spouses deal with insecurity, fear, shame and blame. John Gottman has convincingly argued that criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling are the “four horsemen of the apocalypse” regarding relationships and lead to divorce. In marriages where one or both partners is living with a mental health issue, the four horsemen appear considerably more frequently.

More from YourTango: Mental Illness & Love: The Biggest Threat To Marriage

When considering a divorce with mental illness as a factor, it is important to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the mental health condition treatable, and is the individual willing to be treated?
  • How much harm is each family member experiencing?
  • Are you willing to remain in the relationship even if nothing changed?
  • Is the condition stable, or is it likely to get worse over time?
  • What kind of support network is available?
  • What are your values when it comes to divorce?

From my experience with clients, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to making a decision to divorce when mental illness is involved. Most people have a long list of conflicting “should” that they have inherited from friends, family, and their community, and this complicates the decision. In order to deal with the added stress of divorcing when either person has a mental illness, the person making the decision has to be clear that the decision is truly their own.

This article originally appeared on YourTango.com: When Mental Illness Leads To Divorce: What You Should Know.

Read more: Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Love, Mental Wellness, Relationships, , , ,

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11:12PM PDT on Jun 29, 2015

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2:44AM PDT on Jun 29, 2015

After being in relationship with him for 3 years, he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should rather contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that never believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by referring him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the other ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, lotto, his email is DRAISEDIONSPELLCASTER@OUTLOOK.COM you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or any other problem like wining lottery.

2:54AM PDT on Jun 14, 2015

Am Nikki Renee from USA ,i want to tell the world how Dr Iyaryi help bring my ex back in just a twinkle of an eye, my ex brook up with me because he caught me cheating on him , all effort to beg him back went in vain after consulting so many fake spell casters who dupe me of my money . on one faithful day i came across a testimony of one Mrs Lidia testifying of how Dr Iyaryi had help her bring back her ex, so i desired to give him a try and to my greatest surprise in less than 24 hours my ex was back begging and sending apology text in fact i was short of worlds because i never thought real spell casters still exist ,all thanks to Dr Iyaryi we are now together and more stronger than before....you can contact him on his email via driayaryi2012@hotmail.com

9:49AM PDT on Jun 13, 2015

Thank Prophet suleman for restoring my marriage. I had been separated from my husband. I was told about Prophet suleman spell how he restored Marriage the source of my encouragement and wisdom. I had been praying and standing on the promises of Prophet suleman My husband mailed me and said we will be reunited and living as a family in the country where he lives. Above all, my husband has grown in faith you can reach Prophet suleman true email via:.prophetsuleman@hotmail.com

9:42AM PDT on Jun 13, 2015

Thank Prophet suleman for restoring my marriage. I had been separated from my husband. I was told about Prophet suleman spell how he restored Marriage the source of my encouragement and wisdom. I had been praying and standing on the promises of Prophet suleman My husband mailed me and said we will be reunited and living as a family in the country where he lives. Above all, my husband has grown in faith you can reach Prophet suleman true email via:.prophetsuleman@hotmail.com

11:54PM PDT on May 30, 2015

I am Shannon by name. Greetings to every one that is reading this testimony. I have been rejected by my husband after three(3) years of marriage just because another woman had a spell on him and he left me and the kid to suffer. one day when i was reading through the web, i saw a post on how this spell caster on this address aisabulovespell@gmail.com , have help a woman to get back her husband and i gave him a reply to his address and he told me that a woman had a spell on my husband and he told me that he will help me and after 3 days that i will have my husband back. i believed him and today i am glad to let you all know that this spell caster have the power to bring lovers back. because i am now happy with my husband. Thanks for Dr.Aisabu. His email: aisabulovespell@gmail.com ,,

12:45PM PDT on Oct 29, 2013

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6:55PM PDT on Sep 27, 2013

My husband suffers from mental disorders. It is very hard at times because I find myself caring for him like he is my child. Not only does the illness impact a relationship, it impacts a person's security, self confidence, and finances. Due to his mental illness and not having insurance, we have racked up some major bills and pretty much lost everything. I feel like giving up, but I love him and can not imagine myself with anyone else. He has his good days and he has bad days, but I just have to stick by him and help him as much as I can. It is not easy living with a person who has a mental illness, but there are medications and therapy available that helps maintain the illness(s).

10:40AM PDT on Sep 27, 2013

I suffer from depression and attachment disorder, but neither have ever been the cause of an end to a relationship, and i am unmedicated now and do well. I hate that so many people are affected by mental illness :(

3:03AM PDT on Sep 27, 2013

Thanks

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