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It is easy for a couple to fall into a downward spiral where the spouse with bipolar disorder behaves in ways both highly provocative and highly reactive.
This leads to conflict with their partner, whose negative responses to this “bipolar behavior” makes the bipolar spouse more stressed and insecure, in turn triggering even more episodes of mania and/or depression. They may repeat the pattern and end up with another spouse who has a mood disorder or other mental health problem.
Violence was a particular worry for partners when their spouse was manic.
However, in spite of all this, many people stay emotionally committed to their bipolar spouse and are very patient and forgiving of problem behaviors.
This study has one serious limitation in that it included only committed spouses – not those who have divorced the bipolar sufferer.
(And as the divorce statistics show, there are a great many of these.) What is being presented here is a conflicting and contradictory portrait of the bipolar spouse: On the one hand we are see the huge divorce rate, on the other we have research showing marriage to someone with bipolar disorder is pretty typical of marriage in general.
Manic behavior is more likely to be perceived as malicious and deliberate, especially after the partner with bipolar disorder has been stable for a while and acting in a more loving, consistent, and predictable manner. It will come as no surprise to learn that bipolar divorce rates are high. In other words, marriage to a person with bipolar disorder who is in treatment and not experiencing any episodes is pretty much the same as being married to a “well” person.
Being in a committed relationship with someone who has bipolar disorder is a tremendous challenge. The statistics vary according to the source, but most experts quote rates two or three times higher than the national average. Spouses with bipolar disorder are likely to have a different impression of their marriage than their husband or wife.
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