Should I Push Divorce- I Think My Hubby Has Bipolar

Updated on November 16, 2012
D. asks from Plainfield, IL
13 answers

Long question- My husband has always been a hot head and is rather negative. However at times he seems to get much worse. It got so bad this year that I began seeing a counselor. Since June he has had 4 "cycles", the most recent one beginning this saturday. We were in our room with the kids, he was trying to tell my oldest daughter a story, and my youngest was on the other side of the room talking and talking to me. Anyway, her talking made him angry, he flew off the handle suddenly, screaming and yelling at her and slamming doors. We all dispersed. A few minutes later he comes to me, badgering me about helping me discipline her, not once or twice, but several times. Finally I asked how this is all my fault. He went itno another rages, screaming and yelling and slamming doors. He then locked himself in our room. Since then he hasn't talked to me other to criticize me briefly. If I try to talk to him he ignores me all together or sneers at me. My daughters are upset, and I am trying my hardest to keep everyone entertained and comfortable. My girls are telling me of all the times he has been yelling at them and how it upsets them. They even ask me not to tell him thing they think might set him off. Well I have been keeping track and these cycles usually last 3 days or so, of which I am the devil incarnate. I have never cheated, ran up credit card bills, or any other heinus thing, yet he acts as if I am sludge. I cannot do this anymore. He mentioned a few times in the past that he thinks he is borderline bipolar, and has admitted to sinking into deep depressions. I can't do this anymore. I have asked in the past that he go to counseling or join me. He says he isn't strong enough. My counselor thinks he has bipolar tendencies. I would prefer he get help, and I would support hiim. Unfortunately I cannot talk to him now, and even when I can I doubt he will say yes. I think I need to give an untimatum. How do I do this? How do I begin to find a lawyer? What if he doesn't leave? And most importantly, how do I protect my girls? I want them to have a good bond with their dad.

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So What Happened?

I should mention, I do not know what he has, but there is something wrong and his behavior swings all over. How do I lay down an ultimatum? I want him to get help, regardless of what happens to us. His children need this.

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answers from Dallas on

If he won't get help, he leaves you no choice. Talk to a woman's shelter and a professional.

He isn't "strong enough" to get help? I call bullsh!#.

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answers from Chicago on

I don't know if this helps, but after a long time of episodes from extreme to light, suicidal, sad, happy, ridiculous to the point where we were locking our bedroom, my son was hospitalized twice and diagnosed bipolar. In having this happen, he was counseled but above all given medication that brought our son back to us! He takes it daily now. He is not twenty four hours a day cheerful, can still be cranky, but he is him again! and he is working and going to school in a major part in a major play and well, oh please get him to get some help. It's amazing!
And medication scares people, but it is like having diabetes -sometimes you have a condition that truly requires a medication to balance the problem.

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answers from Appleton on

I keep hoping the stigma of mental illness will end but for many, especially those with mental illness it will be a long time. But it is a disease or illness. If your hubby had cancer you would get him to a doctor and do whatever was necessary to heal him. Talk to him tell him cancer is a disease mental illness is a disease, he needs to be hospitalized to be evaluated and medicated. Then her needs to be in counseling, possibility for the rest of his life.
He needs to accept this and understand he has nothing to be ashamed of.

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answers from Chicago on

From what you said here, this doesn't sound like Bi-polar to me at all. My mother's fiance is bi-polar as is his daughter. Rage is different than mania. Additionally, your counselor shouldn't be diagnosing him without seeing him. A mental illness is not something to throw around lightly. And the advice and type of help will differ depending on his issues.

However, I think you CAN issue him an ultimatum.... get himself help or you leave. But you have to have an exit strategy worked out. I would start working your counselor on that process.

You also need to remember that if you leave him your daughters will be in his presence UNATTENDED. They will no longer have you as a buffer. he will have them during his time and you will have NO SAY over what happens. Unless he has been consistently physically abusive he will probably get joint 50/50 custody unless HE requests less.

So I would think your first responsibility would be to get him help.... at any cost. Put your family back together. Help him to be a good dad, husband and person. Divorce may SEEM like the answer. It will not solve ANY of your issues. In fact, it usually creates MORE issues for the next 5 years (depending on how old your kids are). Then it will taper off.

You find a lawyer in the yellow pages under divorce attorneys. Typically any one will do unless you are a celebrity or really really wealthy. Most offer a free consultation. if HE won't leave.... then YOU leave with your girls. can you afford your place without two incomes anyway? You may have to move regardless.... I don't know what your financial situation is.

Good Luck

ETA based on your SWH. If you really going to give him an "ultimatum" you have to be prepared to leave. Then you say to him..... I have made you an appointment with a counselor. I have ALSO made US an appointment with a Marriage counselor. We have to begin treatment or I leave this relationship and I take the girls with me. If we stay in treatment and seek help and establish milestone and goals etc then we can work to make it better. If you refuse to go to marriage counseling and seek your own counselor (doesn't have to be the one I picked, but it needs to be someone who can see you in the same timeframe) then our relationship is over.
But you can't do that until you have an exit strategy lined up. Talk with your individual counselor about that. She can also help you set up appointments with a marriage therapist for you both as well as a counselor for him.

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answers from Lansing on

I didn't read through all the answers so sorry if this is a repeat. Men more so than women have a hard time asking for help. As a mother with bipolar I'm so glad my husband doesn't want to leave me. Someone else said it is like cancer an illness and he would go to get help for that...Unfortunately men are can be raised with that macho image of never needing help. As for your kids let them know it's not there fault. From a bipolar perspective I hate the mood swings I can get really low even when everything in our lives is okay. I don't particularly like taking the medicine but I do it for myself and my family. If you threaten to leave it could push him over the edge. People with this disorder tend to act on how they feel at that moment not seeing if they just wait it will dissipate. I except what I have and am grateful it's not something worse. In a quiet moment try to talk to him tell him it is a chemical imbalance in the brain...if he had heart trouble he'd seek medical help so why not now? He's suffering too. P.s. you do not have to go to counseling for a mental disorder working with your doctor to find the right medications is exceptable. Men also are scared of the "C" word. No amount of talking is going to help a chemical imbalance. Not saying it wouldn't help but maybe if you take that out of the equation he might be more willing to get medical help. Good Luck.

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answers from Boston on

D., my husband has been diagnosed with cyclothymia, a mild, long-cycling form of Bipolar II. Prior this this diagnosis, he was thought to have depression and ADHD (the ADHD diagnosis still holds but is secondary to the mood disorder in terms of treatment). This answer may get lengthy...

Life here can be a complete nightmare sometimes, and that's WITH therapy (for various combinations of him, me, both of us, and our kids) and medication. Staying with someone who has a mood disorder can be a long, hard road. He has been arrested for pushing me, moved out of the house for a couple of weeks last year, and recently declared himself celibate (yeah, really!). And yet...the part of him who is well is worth fighting for, for now, because he does come back ready for treatment, again and again. Back in the ring to fight another round, again and again.

It helps me tremendously to remember that in our marriage, his illness is the enemy, and it's an enemy we have in common. While yes, sometimes I'm fighting the "real" him, most often, I am fighting against an illness manifesting itself in him. It strengthens me to know that in his times of wellness, he wants to beat this illness more even than I want him to. He wants his life to be peaceful and loving, for our kids to have great memories of an involved, active dad, to have a successful career and provide a good life for his family, to be there for milestone and events that are important to them. He really doesn't want to stay up too late, oversleep, suck at work, get laid off or quit jobs repeatedly, be grumpy and miserable, snap at the kids, ignore or be nasty to me, skip family functions, sleep all day on a weekend, blow our budget on things we don't need, etc. All of those behaviors are a result of his illness.

One tactic that has worked for us has been that in a quiet moment, maybe when he's killing time on the computer or ready to go to sleep, I will very gently voice my concerns. The "script" has to be delivered tenderly and lovingly. You are hoping that your voice reaches to the part of him that remembers falling in love with you and choosing to marry you, back when life was sunshine and lollipops and you were his best friend and most trusted confidant. You have to reach the part of him that remembers that you aren't the enemy, that you are on his side and have a common goal, which is to help him get to a place of happiness and peace so that your family can grow in love and unity. I usually just list observations: I notice that you don't seem to be sleeping well, seem unhappy, seem angry and irritable, etc. Then go into what I want: I want you to feel well again, to be happy, to be able to relax more around the children...don't you want that too? Remember when we used to have so much fun doing X, Y & Z? I miss that. I miss you, and I miss us. Then, add in something that affirms that you're not just blaming him (to diffuse defensiveness, even if it really is all him): I've been talking to my counselor and she has some ideas for things that I can do so we can work together - I recognize that I can improve some things in our relationship too and I am working on those, but we need to work together to really succeed. Then close with something optimistic and make a request: I think that we can get back to where we were but we need some help. Will you make an appointment with your doctor this week to discuss this? It may be something physical that can be fixed and if you want, I'd be happy to go with you. I want to support you in this. Then, let it go - my husband might not respond immediately, but he usually does take steps to get back on track within a week or two - makes an appointment, gets back on his meds, etc.

If his reaction to that isn't positive, then I think you need to go to ultimatum mode. Again, you can be gentle here but firm as well: I tried to talk to you the other day and let you know how concerned I am about your health and happiness, but you seem to not be taking this seriously. I am dead serious about this - I can't force you to seek help, but I can choose to not just stand by and watch you get more and more unwell. If you don't seek some kind of help, then we will need to separate until you can see what is at risk here. The last thing I want to do is split our family up, but the kids are suffering now from your moods and we can't live like this.

If you think he'll be violent or anything, then be very careful with this conversation and perhaps have it while another adult is in the house. Hopefully it will be the wake up call he needs to jump into action, but maybe he'll just get mad. If he does fly into a rage, do not hesitate to call the police. If you feel threatened by him, you can also call the police - you don't have to wait until you're injured. Once the police are involved, you can ask for an order of protection, which will temporarily remove him from your home. I'm not advocating "playing the domestic violence card," just letting you know that if this confrontation triggers an unsafe reaction, you do have options. If he quietly just refuses to leave or seek help, then you've got a really miserable situation on your hands and would have to seek an attorney to find out what to do.

Another tactic, if it comes down to an ultimatum, would be to recruit his family if you have that kind of relationship. My in-laws are well aware of my husband's illness and while they are never disloyal to him, they do understand the situation and can help when needed. These kinds of things tend to run in families - perhaps a heart-to-heart with a parent would help him to see what's at risk.

At the end of the day, illness or personality disorder or whatever may be going on are no excuse for this behavior. He is being abusive to you and your children, and it's up to you to defend them against this. Sometimes families can hold it together while helping one member battle mental illness/mood disorders and sometimes, you have to cut your losses and do what's right for you and your children. But you sound loving and concerned, and like you haven't checked out or given up yet. No one would fault you if you looked at the enormity of the task before you and said "nope, not doing this. It's over." But if part of you would not be able to forgive yourself for that, if part of you wants to try everything first, then it might be worth trying once more to get him to hear you, then move to an ultimatum and hopefully, a trial separation will bring him to his senses.

I really do wish you peace and wellness for your whole family. It's a hard road but hopefully a worthwhile journey.

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answers from Austin on

I think it needs to be set up as he either gets help for his rages or depression, or you WILL leave...

His behavior at this point is abusive.... it doesn't have to be physical to be abusive. Do you want your children to grow up thinking this is normal behavior for a partner or any adult? How long do you want to wait until his rages BECOME physically abusive?

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answers from Portland on

I have much experience with mental illness both professionally and personally. It doesn't matter what his diagnosis is. He needs help and he's refusing to see a doctor for that help. You cannot continue to live this way. You need to get out for the sake of yourself and your daughters. This is a very unhealthy environment for all of you. Your husband is abusive.

Perhaps if you present your problem to him in this way he will get professional help. When everything is calm tell him that unless he gets help you will have to ask him to leave. Let him know that you're serious. Do not make the threat unless you have a plan. Before you tell him this find out who he can see. Your counselor should be able to help you with this. (S)he can help you make a plan. If (s)he can't ask for help in finding a counselor experienced in making this happen.

Begin making plans to have him leave before giving the ultimatum. You can talk with a women's shelter about the steps to take. They can recommend lawyers. The lawyer can file papers that will require that he leave.

It is good that you want to stay with him while he gets help. That is what the marriage vows are all about. However, to make this work your spouse has to be willing to get help. Your spouse isn't at this point. So you have to take the next step of giving him a choice of either accepting help or losing you.

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answers from Charlotte on

Holy cow. This man is a trainwreck and instead of trying to entertain the kids and pretend like life is normal in this house, you need to get these girls out of there. Until he realizes that he will LOSE you all, he will not get help.

Your girls cannot have a good bond with their dad. He is just plain abusive. How can you think that there is any GOOD in this? What they WILL do is look for the same kind of guy to marry if you keep them exposed to this.

You need to leave. Get a copy of all your important paperwork and take it to a lawyer TOMORROW. Get your finances in order so that you have money to live off of. Get a bank account at a bank your husband doesn't know about. Get money into that account.

Your children do NOT deserve to have to live like this.


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answers from Chicago on

I am so sorry you are going through this. The main thing for you now is to somehow get him help. If he won't agree to it, you may have to take matters into your own hands. I suggest talking to a counselor at work or your church to get guidance on getting him help. It probably sounds callous, but you may have to go the route of getting him 'committed' or whatever they call it these days. I am concerned he may harm himself, you, or worse yet one of the kids.

We are currently experiencing neighbors with bipolar disorder and I can't imagine living in the same household with someone going through this. He needs some treatment - not necessarily a divorce. Get that for him first and if you still can't live with him go that route. I wouldn't even broach that subject with him as he could be so unstable as to lose it. Good luck to you all - I'll be praying for you.

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answers from Chicago on

good grief, he needs to get himself to a doctor and get on some meds! talk to him when he's in a rational mood and stress how much you and the kids love him and you can't live like this.



answers from Minneapolis on

I would try an Al-Anon meeting or group. Your husband is an alcoholic. Hopefully, they will have some resources for you. A trial separation doesn't sound like a bad idea. Maybe it will be the wake up call he needs to turn things around with the drinking. As far as the bipolar, you say it got so bad this year that YOU began seeing a counselor. What about him? Is he seeing anyone? I would be insisting on not only his getting help to stop drinking, but also for his other mental health issues. He says he isn't strong enough to join you in counseling. Would he be strong enough if not going ruined his marriage?



answers from Chicago on

On a "Good Day" I would sugest Meds to help with depression. My SIL did this for her husband and he is a much better man to be around!

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