When one or both partners in a relationship struggle with mental health concerns, it can be overwhelming at first. You may have a lot of questions about what type of implications this may have on your relationship.
1) How do I know if my partner is struggling with mental health?
There is a difference between having a persistent mental illness and a temporary reaction to a negative event. If the issues are reoccurring frequently and indefinitely, it might be a sign that you or your partner is struggling with mental health concerns.
2) How do I help my spouse, but at the same time make sure I don’t burn out in the process?
Being able to set some boundaries for yourself is important. Over-functioning on your spouse’s behalf can lead to burnout and will reinforce to the spouse that they can’t do things for themselves. Take the time you need for yourself and plan things you enjoy doing.
3) Could my spouse be suffering from a mental illness if they are violent toward me and others?
Separate the behavior from the cause. There is a relationship between abusive behavior and mental illness (i.e., antisocial personality disorder), but some aggressive behavior is reactive or a learned pattern of coping.
4) If I develop mental health symptoms myself as a result of supporting my spouse, should I just get help for myself or should we try couples therapy?
It’s important for each person to get help for themselves, along with getting help for the relationship. Partners also need to find some of their support outside the relationship and not expect that all their emotional needs will be met by their partner.
5) How can we get help for our relationship when children are involved?
Some therapists will treat the family as a unit, while others may see the children separately as part of the treatment. It really will depend on your needs as individuals and as a family!
6) At what point should I consider ending my relationship?
Couples therapy can help the couple heal the relationship. At the same time, couples therapy can help spouses develop more awareness, and this awareness may include recognizing that the relationship can no longer continue. If the relationship continues to be unhealthy after exhausting all other options, it may be time to consider parting ways.