June 28, 2008
I too am a husband with a bipolar wife. We’ve been married 2 1/2 years, together for 7 years with no kids, and I’ve been thinking about divorce. I’ve been reading some of the other stories on this site, and I can see that my situation could be much worse, but still, it’s no walk in the park.
I’m one of those people who is a problem solver. I’m passive aggressive, avoid conflict and drama, and try my best to appease people. I had a crappy childhood with parents constantly arguing and verbally abusing one another, while at the same time putting me in the middle and making me pick a side in every fight. I’m also chronically depressed, currently on an anti-depressant.
My wife was diagnosed with BP in high school, her sister has it along with her father. She comes from a loving family, though the stress of having so many bipolar folks under one roof for such a long time has taken its toll on them. She also has anxieties and constantly has panic attacks over the littlest things.
The first few years we were together were great. We talked, had fun together, went to movies, whatever. We shared interests, and we were both interested in each other. Then about three or four years ago, she hit a real low. Her meds were switched around, she had to take some time off from college, she was a basket case. This went on for almost a year while she was away at school.
When she got into her last semester of school, things started to get better. There was an end in sight, and we were getting a house and getting married just after her graduation. Finally, things were starting to settle down, but here we are, 2 years later, and after a few brief periods of good times, things just seems to get worse.
See, my wife also has this problem where she can’t relax. No one in her family can relax. By that I mean, there always has to be something to stress about or worry about, from whether or not she would find a job to filling out a tax form to ordering a pizza. She graduated with flying colors, we got a house, we’re pretty well-off, even just on my salary, so she should have very little to freak out about at this point.
Anyway, I guess I didn’t realize how bad this constant state of worry was until we shared the same roof. I’m pretty laid-back, though I like to stay busy with something – a book, fixing up the house, yard work, etc. – but she’s almost the complete opposite. She wants to stay busy – it helps her with her BP disorder – but she doesn’t know what to do with herself, so I have to sit there and try and come up with something to do all the time. If I can’t come up with something of interest, she just goes to sleep. Part of that is depression, but in the back of my mind, and due to my nature, it just seems lazy.
We both work, but I do just about everything around the house, with her occasional help with cooking. I clean, I do all the maintenance, I even pick up after her. Did I mention I’m obsessive compulsive? Well, again, she’s the opposite here. It’s hard working all day, then coming home and cleaning up after someone.
I’ve asked her to help out more, but usually she ends up mired in her own depression and forgets about it. I’ve asked her to stop smoking – my dad smoked and it helped kill him, so she knows how it bothers me – but any time she gets stressed, I find a pack of smokes in her purse or ashes in the car or just the smell of it. She also had a few instances where I came home to her drunk, the worst of which ended with me cleaning up vomit twice in one night. She doesn’t take care of herself. She’s overweight and gaining, while I’ve made a concerted, and successful, effort over the last six months to get in better shape.
We’ve discussed these issues, and she said she would try and make this work, I just haven’t seen much effort. I have to tip-toe around her, being careful of the things I say or do, along with how I say or do them, for fear of setting her off or making her snap at me. I’m afraid to say or do much of anything in an effort to not make things worse than they are.
She has this constant indifference towards everything these days, including me. I try to figure out things for us to do, but she rarely has interest in them, and even when we do go out, she’s never really into it. Even something as simple as “what’s for dinner” is an uphill struggle. I ask her how she’s doing, how her day has been, show interest and concern, but it’s rarely if ever reciprocated. Our sex life is pretty much dead. Things get good for a month or two, and then nothing for 6 months.
I guess my point with all of this is that it makes me worry about what the future holds. We both want children, but if she’s like this now, how will she be with a child? My parents screwed me up a bit, so I don’t want to bring another messed up person into this world. I know how stressful and time-consuming parenthood can be, so how will she be able to handle it? How will I? She’s supposed to be my partner, but I’ll have to take care of everyone and everything. As hard as it is now, I just don’t think I have it in me.
My wife is not a bad person. Underneath it all, she can be beautiful and intelligent and strong and loving, but that person rarely appears, and when she does, it’s usually because a huge depression is about to set in. She’s not abusive or hateful or argumentative. She takes her meds diligently. Again, like I said, I think I have one of the better bipolar marriages in comparison to other stories I’ve read here, but it’s still hard.
And just to note, I’m not Mr. Perfection. I know I have my quirks and moods and annoyances. Maybe I expect too much? Maybe I’m as messed up as she is? Maybe I’m just a trivial, selfish s.o.b.?
I guess I’m torn – if I end things, I’m worried about how she’ll take it. I don’t want her to try and hurt herself, and I also don’t want to destroy her already fragile self-esteem. The last thing in the world that I want is to hurt her. But then what about me? Should I just buckle up and accept that this is my future and make the best of it? I’m not happy. I feel alone and tired all the time. Should I risk bringing a child into this world that may be scarred for life by the both of us? Considering her disorder seems to have worsened over the past few years, how will it be ten years from now? I try to be optimistic in my life, but I’m also a realist. I’m at a fork in the road and I just don’t know which way to go.
If any of you have advice or insight, I could use it right now. Thanks for listening to me ramble.