Marriage and Mental Health: A Lifelong Commitment
Are you a newlywed or thinking about asking the big question to someone who’s struggling with mental illness? Are you also contemplating this decision? It’s only natural for you to feel a bit nervous. Mental health can take a big toll on marriages and leave both parties completely stressed out. Many partners will find themselves in a position where it seems their only purpose in the relationship is to manage the illness.
If you’re in a situation as such, you’re not alone. In fact, on a general basis, studies show that married couples have significant more levels of stress than couples who’ve just begun dating.¹
The purpose of this article is to discover ways to work around the stress and continue helping your partner control their mental health. All while allowing your love to be brought back to light.
Research, Research, Research!
Before you can truly know how to help your partner, it’s vital you understand their mental health. In many regards, stress is often a result of misinformation and miscommunication.
Even if your loved one receives treatment on a regular basis, mental health is something that’s a lifelong battle. Unlike many physical conditions, the wound doesn’t simply heal then be forgotten. Rather, it takes a great deal of time for someone struggling with mental health to²:
Discover the motivation to reach their full potential.
Enhance their health and wellness.
Take control of their life.
With the right kind of patience and attention, you can help your partner reach recovery. And that’s why it’s vital you do research on your significant other’s condition.
To get the best advice, you’ll want to first speak to a psychologist or other medical professionals who have a lot of knowledge on this topic. From there, you’ll want to begin surfing the web or books for more information.³
It may also help to talk to someone who has experienced a similar condition. Though it should be noted, everyone experiences mental health differently.
Show Your Support
One of the biggest difficulties someone struggling with mental health can have is not feeling as though they have the right support system. This difficulty is only made more intense by the fact that stigma towards mental health still holds dominance.⁴
Inevitably, this difficulty stems into marriage. Your loved one may feel as though you don’t truly love or want them. In some cases, they may even feel divorce is the only option.
However, with the right kind of support, these problems are certain to not exist. If you’ve developed a good amount of knowledge on the topic, you’ll be more readily available to approach specific situations. For examples, if your significant other suffers from a panic disorder, you’ll know what to do when they have a panic attack.
Furthermore, it’s important you offer your support with sympathy. Don’t just provide your loved one with what they need. Give them reassurance and help them continue pushing for the life s/he desires.⁵
Find the Right Counseling
No matter how proficient your knowledge on mental health is, it’s vital you don’t become your loved one’s counselor. Though this may seem good in many regards, you’ll be placing yourself in a position where you are just that - a counselor - not a significant other.
To avoid this, you’ll want to find the right therapy, either for yourself or both you and your loved one. You may be asking, why should I need therapy?
Your married life is bound to throw stress at you even if your loved one doesn’t struggle with mental health. A great way to combat that stress is to vent your frustration to a counselor. This will take many negative feelings away from your loved one.
By talking to a mental health professional, you’ll get a better sense of what your loved one is going through and how to help.
Couples counseling is a great option as it gets both of you involved.⁶
Take Care of Yourself First
Before you can help anyone in your life, you need to have some sense of how to take care of yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself, you may be worsening your loved one’s mental health. Even if you don’t mean to.
To make sure you’re receiving the right self-care, make sure to:
Get the right amount of sleep at night.
Participate in activities you’re fond of.
Put yourself in the presence of friends and loved ones.
Routinely participate in physical activity.
Though there are times where it seems your marriage is entirely surrounded by mental health, never forget the important role you play in the recovery process. Just the fact that your loved one has someone to always be there for them is a blessing they may keep to themselves.
With the right kind of knowledge and attitude, you can take this blessing to great lengths.
¹ HHS Public Access: MARRIAGE AND MENTAL HEALTH AMONG YOUNG ADULTS
² MentalHealth.gov: Recovery is Possible
³ MentalHealth.gov: For Friends and Family Members
⁴ HHS Public Access: Public Stigma of Mental Illness in the United States: A Systematic Literature Review
⁵ NIMH: Help for Mental Illness
⁶ Bureau of Labor Statistics: Marriage and Family Therapists
Written by Paul James.