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Husband's Illness Is Taking a Toll on Me

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: I have been married for almost 20 years. My husband was diagnosed with bipolar disorder about a year ago, but I suspect that's what was going on with him for many years prior to the official diagnosis. He is also an alcoholic.

Our marriage has deteriorated due to not only the effect his illness has on his personality and behavior but also my struggle to get over the things he has done to me and our children in the past, before he was diagnosed. During the manic parts of his illness, he made more decisions regarding finances, work, alcohol and other women (though he never actually cheated on me), among other things. He also was paranoid and delusional about me, accusing me of all sorts of things and engaging in behavior such as spying on me.

When manic, he will also bully and manipulate me in various ways. I know this is due to his illness, and he is trying to manage it and usually does a decent job with a notoriously hard-to-manage type of disorder. I have gone to great lengths to give him chance after chance to get his act together, and I have been extensively involved in his treatment plan and supportive of his choices that were meant to help him get better even when it was hard on the family. Putting him first all the time, despite how much he's hurt me, is taking a serious toll on my own mental health.

But I just can't get over what he's done to me over these last few years. I can't forgive him and, frankly, don't feel motivated to try. I don't love him anymore, and I want to put it behind me and move on with my life without feeling pressure to work on a marriage with a man I resent and who has caused me so much trauma and grief. I want to end our marriage and create the best life as co-parents for our children that we possibly can.

I can't help but wonder, though, does it make me a bad person and bad parent that I won't do everything possible to keep our marriage intact for our children, considering his problems are due to an illness that is out of his control? He doesn't want to be this way, but the fact is that this is who he is, and life with him is making me miserable. -- Wanting Out

 

Dear Wanting Out: You have been through a lot, and of course your husband has been through a lot, too. Ahead of everything else, he has to stop drinking if anything is going to work. If he continues to drink, the medication and therapy for his bipolar disorder will not work. If he is still sick and not getting proper treatment, then you should not feel bad about wanting out because he is giving you no other choice. But if he is trying, and you don't want to try because of old resentments, then therapy just might be exactly what you need. Whether you decide to stay together, at least you know in your heart that you tried everything you possibly could to make the marriage work.

Forgiveness is a present to yourself. It brings forth peace, happiness and, usually, a good night's sleep.

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"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

 

 

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