man beside raining window

Mental Illness and Divorcing the Dream

I sat down to write about winter and divorce, make a Game of Thrones joke, throw some legal words on the page, and be done. Boom: another successful post, more knowledge and wit dropped. But something else happened: the thought of winter and loneliness led, for some reason, to think about mental illness. Suddenly the thought of people leaving their marriages because either they or their partner were dealing with mental illness popped into my head, and I searched the trusty Google. So many entries. So many struggles. PTSD and personality disorders rate pretty high, and there’s a link to these issues and addictions; depression is another of the most challenging mental illnesses a marriage could encounter.

What I thought might be a small issue to blog about, turned into a pretty common reason for divorce. Here’s why:

Spouses wrestle with mental illness in marriage, and not only the illness but the effects as well. Alcohol. Drugs. Sex. You know, the standard band-aids. In a marriage where a mental illness is a companion, the illness can consume all, and leave children damaged and the “healthy” spouse exhausted and broken. A lack of emotional intimacy causes distance that can prove difficult to overcome. Some illnesses can be treated with therapy or prescription medication and in this case, a divorce need not happen. Therapy and meds are not effective when faced with certain diagnoses, most of the personality disorders. In these instances, divorce allows the ex-spouse a chance to rebuild and heal from the abuse and pain that takes place in these relationships.

The saddest part, aside from the children involved, was the realization that people had to leave behind a dream. In so many cases, the disorder one spouse had was fueled by manipulating someone’s dream in order to sustain the relationship. People felt they’d married a dream, a ghost. Heartbreaking.Always evaluate the cost of divorce. But as one client described living with a man suffering from a borderline personality disorder, you wouldn’t stay in a marriage where both you and your child could catch cancer from the other parent, no matter how much you loved that other person. Talk to a professional, get counseling. If you need a consultation, call our offices, text, email. We’re here.

For two different views on living with a person who has a mental illness, read here: