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Mental Illness & Divorce

The reasons for divorce we think are common may be ones like infidelity, communication issues, change, and money troubles. One other issue we don’t talk about as often is mental illness. The taboo of mental illness is diminishing, but the long-term effects of a relationship controlled by another's illness can lead to divorce. 

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. If the spouse has enough mental and emotional energy to stay the course, the marriage can survive.

There are also cases where one spouse does not attend the needed therapy or does not take the medication. Eventually, the toll on the spouse weathering the damage of the illness can be too great. In these cases, divorce often takes place. One person may choose misery for both, and that isn’t a marriage. 

In other scenarios, the hope is not as strong. Therapy and meds are not effective when faced with certain diagnoses, many of them 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. 

Always evaluate the cost of divorce. But as one client described after years of marriage to an individual suffering from 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.