Mental illness is a health condition involving changes in emotion, thinking or behavior (or a combination of these). Mental illness includes depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors.
Mental illness is usually tough on couples, the stress level caused by the illness often stretches into a crisis mode, in which managing the illness becomes the sole function of the relationship.
Here’s what you can do to overcome a relationship steered by mental illness.
Find out about the illness and the treatment options available
It’s easy for you to think that your partner is simply being lazy, irritable or distracted. But these flaws might really just be symptoms of mental illness. Mental illness is usually confusing to everyone involved which is why it would be beneficial for you and your partner to find out more about the illness and the treatment option available. You could both see a therapist, to begin with.
Understand that the diagnosis is just another challenge
Healthy couples face a lot of challenge and learn to overcome them together. To prevent mental illness from steering the relationship, you have to see the illness as another challenge.
Once you understand that mental illness is just another challenge, it will be possible for you to face it and overcome it.
Take control of your marriage
You have to learn to work on your marriage as you would without the mental illness intruding. You need to take total control of your marriage. To do this, you can carry out fun activities such as;
- Going on a tech-free date together
- Stargazing on a rooftop
- Getting a couples massage
- Visit each other’s hometown
- Play board games and introduce your own rules
This would help to reduce the stress caused by the illness.
Maintain positive communications
Positive Communication is usually found in all healthy relationships.
You have the power to build a healthy marriage by offering your spouse encouragement rather than criticism. This form of positive communication involves some basic habit.
- Being intentionally gentle
- Listening intently
By maintaining positive communication, you would be able to communicate freely and talk about the illness without any hindrance and this would enable you to have a healthy marriage.
Once positive communication can be established, the feeling of someone believes in “me” is usually awakened.
Most often, people assume that self-care is selfish but the truth is that, you need to possess a lot of emotional and mental energy to support your partner who is suffering from mental illness.
Learn to take the occasional break once you realize that the weight of it all is getting too much for a single person.
Understand that not taking care of yourself increases the chance that the illness will pull you both in. It is alright for you to want to catch your breath,
- Eat well
- Be sure to get enough sleep
- Participate in physical activities
- Be sure to visit loved ones.
Never forget that you are important too
Seek couples counseling
Counseling provides balance, perspective, and guidance in a situation that can easily become imbalanced under the wrong circumstances.
Mental illness can drive your marriage, therefore, couples counseling isn’t something to be taken lightly.