Choosing to Stay With a Bipolar Spouse.

I have been married to my husband for 16 years.  I married him for many reason.  He was fun, and we had many things in common.  He had anger and control issues, but I just thought...I don't know what I thought.  Who knows why we ignore things about people we love?  I had been living with the ups and downs.  Never knowing what mood He would wake up in.  Good day?  Down day?  Hate me day?  Anyway, a few years ago he had a major break down, and was diagnosed bipolar.  The diagnosis was an eye opener for me.  It explained so much about his behavor.  He was on the meds his counselor gave him.  For a while.  In fact he lied to me for many..many months after he stopped taking them.(thats anouther very long story)  Considering I had noticed a difference in his mood swings and many small things like grinding his teeth, or the mean face he wears around when he is in a down swing. I was not happy about him going off them.  The lies just added more stress. 

I have thought about leaving, but I love the jerk.  I stay because of a vow I made.  I wouldn't want him to leave me if I were to get sick.  I stay because the good days are good.  The middle ground are  the days I see the smiling man I married. 

I have done a lot of research on bipolar everything.  It helps to know as much about the bipolar you are with.  There are clues and trigers that you can see, and feel.  Can you prevent a manic or depressive event?  No.  But I am learning how to read him.  Some days, like yesterday, are hard. 

Anyone have any tips on living with Unmedicated bipolar in denial?  Let me know!

SmileeJ SmileeJ
36-40, F
18 Responses Sep 5, 2009

I too live with an unmedicated spouse. Sometimes it really brings me down with the abuse she gives me. So I have to get away.

We are lucky to have a holiday home and as I am retired I often go there just to get away. When I am in the holiday home and my wife phones me she almost her old self, not abusive, sometimes she is quite nice. This I believe is because she can choose the time to phone me i.e. when she is in a good mood.

When I return to our house her good mood is still manifest, but by the second day she becomes her usual negative, carping and abusive self. After a particularly abusive period I work out a way to ease the situation by arranging a holiday for us both. This generally works out well because she has lots of other people to occupy her mind and she does not focus on me so much.

Once we are back home the abuse starts again. So I encouraged her to do a qualification at the local university. This worked quite well because again she had lots of interesting things to do and lots of interesting people to speak to.

Basically I still have to go to our holiday home to get away in order to recharge my self esteem which takes quite a battering when she decides to focus on me.

We have been married 43 years, but I am still not sure how to handle the situation especially if she has another hypomanic episode.

Kind regards,


No advice here but after 16 years of marriage my wife was recently diagnosed as bipolar. She hasn't began treatment, not sure if she is. I asked a month after the diagnosis and she blew up. She's cheated multiple times and has told me she wants to leave but sticks around and is sometimes happy and sometimes acts like I ruined her life somehow. I think she's seeing "him" again also. Sorry you are going through this mess also.

I have been living with one for the last 28 years and same reason for living and enduring that you are by the vows. All these years he had job, busy life, kids etc which gave some diversions but now I am tired and he is retired! Thinking of separation. Just can't figure out how?

smileej, thank you so much for posting this, I don't really have any advice, I actually came here looking for advise. My boyfriend is undiagnosed bipolar, I don't really think he will ever admit up to it which is hard. I thought for awhile this may be what was going on and confirmed it with his sister lastnight. I've been reading up on my DSM today and researching ways to cope. We can't change our partners, and their episodes are not their fault, but we can learn how to be less reactionary to them and cope in more supportive ways, which is what I am trying to learn. He's been in a manic episode for the past week, and it's hard. He goes through this every couple of months, so thankfully it isn't all of the time, but it is intense when it happens and it does not help that I have not handled myself well during those times up until now. Now that I had this break through of understanding though I'm hoping to be able to learn to notice triggers and the onset of an episode and to learn how to handle it better. The best we can ever do is improve ourselves in these situations. When he is good, he is good, and so loving - my guy is truly a selfless person to everyone around him, and never thinks twice to help a stranger or a friend in need. Peoples hearts can be so pure and their minds can **** with them, and it takes a lot for spouses to find the energy to cope with this while we have our own personal lives also going on. I would really love to continue to have an online support system with you, maybe we can make some sort of group or be in a group where spouses can discuss their feelings and how they are coping with the episodes of their loved ones.

I've lived with a bipolar spouse for 31 years -who has always been in denial. I have a daughter with him - now 30 years old. She also has a daughter (my granddaughter) who is now almost 3 years old. They have lived with us (for financial reasons) for 2 1/2 years). When my daughter was born and growing up - different stages of her life created different scenarios with her father. He adored her when she was a baby but that all changed when she started to grow up. The same is now happening with my granddaughter. He is cruel, aloof, controlling - unless he gets his way - or if he does not have a "bad" day. The only person he will go out of his way to show his best behavior with is his elderly mother. However - if she requests a unnecessary or non urgent want - such as an Emery VB board - he will leave the house- in a blinding snowstorm - to fulfill her request. Than he comes home to us and takes out his frustrations out on us here at home. (May I mention that his mother is aware of this behavior - but does not care).

I do not love my husband anymore. I'm afraid of him - for my granddaughter, my daughter and me. He has not physically hurt us (yet) but is manipulative and knows how to threaten all of us without any physical violence. He is also very vindicative. I will not leave until my granddaughter (and daughter) have found new living arrangements outside of this house. I'm tired of not knowing what I will wake up to each and every day, or what kind of mood - and eggshells I will be walking on after coming home from work each and every night. I would love to get a divorce - but I am afraid of how he will react. My self esteem no longer exists. I panic each and every time I confer with a lawyer....

I'm sorry that my blog is so lengthy. I would like any input from people who have had similar situatiions - and how they resolved them - or have continued with the rest of their lives with some sort of peace and sanity. The thought of a long drawn out nasty divorce - with a hidden but menacing and threatening demeanor - scares me very much.....

I to live with an unmediated bipolar. I love him just the same with or without his illness. His mind is his enemy. When he has his triggers I reassure him, listen to him, and let him know I love him and I'm there for him. I will never give up on him just as would never give up on my children. It's not an easy rode but they just want to be loved like anyone else. He chooses to not be on the meds cause he feels like a zombie and feels like life has been sucked from him. This illness does need a lot of attention and it takes a selfless person to be with a bipolar person. I've found that you even setting a "date" at the same time to spend with each other helps. Gives them something to look forward to then there minds driving them insane. And I always keep my mind open and calm and reasonable when he has a trigger. The 4 C's that help me are I didn't cause it, I can't cure it, I can't change it, but I can cope with it.

I understand where you are coming from. My spouse, wife, is bipolar and has had two major episodes. The first was an eye opener while the second was due to lack of medical intake. more tha medication the second onset was due to high intensity situation eg Tony Robbins.

Like you i have done a lot of reseach and have spoken to her doctors and had the medication changed over time as a number of them has side effects eg causes hair loss, skin colour change as well as weight gain.

Situation is hard, as like yours just dont know which side the sun will shine. There days are stressful and sometimes it feels easier to walk away than to live it through but than I ask myself "how would I have felt if I had bipolar and not her".

what worked for me was our child. she had been through both and was easier to negotiate effect on child with another major episode, might work for you.

You will need to read signs. they need reassurance daily "love you baby" and window shopping (even man or their sports), walk in the park, pool, dog walking - just outdoors.

Have convinced her to get weekly psychotherapy plus meditation and massages. all adds up and helps.

Life is tough, in fact very tough. a child in high school (so all help with school and the taxi driving), all house work, outdoors, part time work and part time managing own business but one has to see these through.

hope this helps.

I totally understand where you are coming from. My spouse doesn't disappear, but the verbal abuse, and the support factor from him is way out of control. I didn't understand what I was getting into, and it was every so often he was a little obessive I guess. But it seems like more times than not and I can not talk to him. I don't know what to say that won't spark an issue. I am running out of steam.. and it's becoming a love/hate relationship which really saddens me. We grew up together and always had something there.. so to end it this way is tough. And my pride, love and faith keeps me on track, but why should it always be on me to support him?

I am sorry about your situation. I am an ex wife of a wonderful man who became bipolar after terrible sleep apnea. He started having troubles after about 20 years of a wonderful marriage- He is now no one that I want to be married to. He served me with divorce papers 3 times and finally the third time he divorced me. I tried so hard to get him to see that he was changing--moral to immoral, responsible to spending names it, he became the opposite. He is a very successful physician, but leads a completely double life. He wants no one to know who he is or what he is doing in his private live. He calls me Hitler...and the most wonderful woman in the world depending on his mood. He has been in rehab for presc<x>ription drugs and booze. You really cannot talk any logic to him at all. My heart is broken and our 4 kids are confused and hurt. He has no idea that he is a fakey paranoid jerk now as he keeps recreating a whole new world every few years and everyone thinks he is a wonderful doctor...but his whole life is a lie now. I either have one of two feelings for is sadness over the man he has become because he is unmedicated and unbelieving and two deep anger that he keeps inflicting pain on all of us over and over again.<br />
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So....if you don´t have kids with him already then DONT have kids with him. Seriously, get steriolized. The only way anything will work is if he and you go to a psychiatrist every week and talk openly about what is happening. You´re crazy to live such a compromised life and it would be very bad if you brought kids into this situation. Get him help or run life crazy.

i have been with my boyfriend for 13 years he is also unmedicated bipolar. it defenently isnt ezy. i myself have mentle ishuse that i kept under the rug my hole life and now at the age 31 am gatting help for. im at the piont now i just want to jump off the rollercoester. i have been downgraded, verbley mently, and i now dont think i know anything different. i never had much self esteam, and this man deffinently is not helping, i no i should leave but just dont think im strong to go through with it . we have a 6 year old doughter together. god dont i wish i could be stronger

Leave as soon as you can! You're love will never make a diffirence - I know because I tried love and understanding for almost 34 years, and still woke up to "hate me days" more than any other. If you have any dignity and self-respect left - leave and try to forget the sorrow. Try to enjoy what is left of your life with people who are sane..... (no offense to those of you who choose not to use medication / phsycotherapy for your Bipolarity, but you are the most selfish of humans imaginable!)

I have a long-time marriage to a bi-polar she was diagnosed almost 20 years ago and I cannot imagine how a relationship can survive an UNmedicated bi-polar.

Hi Smiley-I truly understand your experience! My wife of 22 yrs is also unmedicated bipolar. Our 2 sons were what got me thru. She has filed for divorce numerous times. It appears to be the final one this time .Our Sons are young men now. No matter how awful it got I took whatever she dished out and would do it again.She has progressed to the point I worry over her talk of nobody wants me the best thing would be for me to have never been born, I'm gonna go away so everybody can forget I ever existed. All this talk is obviously suicidal I've tried several times over the yrs to talk to my in-laws and they say "She's moody sometimes but you're making a mt of a moleholl!! DENIAL!! I used to live in horror of the boys when they were small On one hand she was great Mother on the other she was rough soap in their eyes at bathtime then say "shut up that crying!!and put soapy wash cloth all around their eyes all the more.Obviously I took over more and more of child rearing than have them go thru that. I fully suspect she'll harm herself she has become so reclusive and thinks everyone has it in for her. She has for three yrs to believe we are married! I'll continue to be there for her butr time is running out. you didn't mention if children or not. I wish could have been different for her and hope you find some means of intervention. If not you need to understand you can only go so far .YOU are entitled to a normal life!!

Hi SmileeJ,<br />
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"16 years" is long. very long period.<br />
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i admire that you are sure and decided to stay. its very important to make up ones mind, this completely changes your attitude towards your husband and is helpful. my wife is a bipolar and surely its as described by LavenderLilly "ticking time bomb". <br />
if possible question yourself about few things like <br />
Q.why you want to live with him (trust me Love is not real answer, its nice answer. social stigma, not knowing how he might react if you wanna quit, social or family pressure, kids, unsure if after seperation life might worsen etc.)<br /> confident are you about yourself<br />
Q.what you want from life and such questions that fundamentaly make up your stand in life.<br />
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Please do not take me wrongly but one thing is sure you will have to be very strong internally to lead a life ..Life.

Are you able to reason "Do it because you love me?" or "Try it for 60 days and then we will access". Can you keep a written record of how many episodes he has and how it affects those around him.<br />
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You might try research on "intervention" like they do with drug users. See the strategies used there.

I am bipolar, and medicated. I completely understand why people have a difficult time with the medications, as bipolar is the most difficult mental affliction to treat. At best, the meds may give one more of an "even line" in emotional turmoil. I have always taken my medications because I fear the consequences of not taking them. I hurt myself and others when I wasn't treated, and I could no longer bear the pain of that. I suggest that you make it very clear to him how difficult your life is on a daily basis. If he gets the message and needs and loves you in the same way, he will take his meds if only to protect you from further pain. Best wishes to both of you.

Take a look at the following website. It is a free site for people dealing with schizophrenics, but there may be help on it for you or at least on a affiliated website. <br /><br />
Good luck. Try not to let it get you down.

i think its amazigng when people stand by the people they love when they are daignosed with bipolar/depression - i think i might have depression but i dont really want to go to the doctors about it although i know im making my partner quite misreable at times - i think that you are doing a great job and sooner or later your husband will realise and appreciate evrything you do for him - good luck and i hope that all works out for you both