When Mental Illness is Affecting Your Spouse

depressed wrong mental illness AdobeStock_76974728 copyIt’s a subject that isn’t often discussed in Christian circles. But what do you do if you find out that mental illness is affecting your spouse? What can you do about it? This affects your life in drastic ways.

It’s a scary thought to consider spousal mental illness but as author Jim Killam says:

“Look around you. At work, at church. Chances are very good you’ll see someone who’s battling mental illness. Maybe you only need to look as far as the other side of the bed …or the mirror.

“Many Christians don’t figure that mental illness could affect their marriages. But it does—in about the same proportions as with the general population. Each year, more than one in five Americans suffers from a clearly diagnosable mental disorder. And, Christian therapists add, more couples need to confront the whole issue rather than assume it’s solely a spiritual problem.” (Jim Killam, from the article, “What’s Wrong With Him?”)

When Your Spouse Has a Mental Illness

Pertaining to this issue, I read an article a while ago titled, “When Your Spouse Has a Mental Illness.” It was posted on the Brainphysics.com web site. Unfortunately, it is no longer available on their web site. (We can’t find it anywhere else either.) This article gave a very compelling testimony of a wife whose husband, William, suffers from mental illness. It has taken him, her, and their family places that none of them ever dreamed they would go. His mental illness manifested itself mostly in sexual ways, even though “faith and family” was their focal point.

Eventually, he was diagnosed with a severe form of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Through hospital treatments and more, William is able to function in a more productive way.

I wish we could let you read the entire testimony. But unfortunately, we can’t. However, here is the last portion of what this wife testified. She wrote:

“Here are a few important things I have learned from my experience. I don’t pretend to have mastered all of these points. But if you have a mate with a mental illness, perhaps you can benefit from my struggle.


“The more I learned about William’s illnesses, the more I was able to understand his behavior. This enabled me to better empathize and become a more positive force in his treatment. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts followed by rituals aimed at warding off the anxiety-provoking obsessions. This explained the bizarre sexual thoughts and William’s subsequent, drastic actions. He has a less common form of the disease, which was why his therapist had failed to identify it.

“William’s hospital psychologist also felt he may have bipolar disorder. This is more commonly known as manic-depression. This explained the mood swings, as well as social phobia. It also explained his extreme fear of criticism or evaluation. Our family therapist also identified some dissociative symptoms. This is the reason William would seem to ‘check out’ during marital conflicts. Although much of the time it felt like my husband was the enemy, the illness is the true enemy. If your spouse has a mental illness, arm yourself with as much information as possible. A full psychological evaluation is critical. Read books, talk to the doctors, and even take a class if you have time. The more you know, the easier it will be to sort out the illness from the one you love.


“I’ve heard that it takes seven years from the time someone begins to look for help for their OCD until they find it. Although William had been seeing a therapist for six months prior to his hospitalization, the treatment he was getting was completely useless for his type of disorder. Psychodynamic therapy, rooted in Freud’s theories of conflicting inner impulses and childhood issues, is not an effective treatment for OCD. Cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) on the other hand, which focuses on thought processes and changing specific behaviors, has a proven track-record for many anxiety disorders. CBT is expensive and sometimes hard to find but well worth it.

“Also the judicious use of proper medication is essential. William was put on 150 mg of the antidepressant Zoloft, which is also effective for OCD. It may be necessary to make sure your spouse has been stabilized with medication before starting off with CBT. Sometimes it is important to make sure the medications are working before any ‘cold turkey’ can be served!


“I thought I was being supportive by offering continued reassurances and listening to William’s confessions. However, I later learned that this type of participation only worsened his OCD. I have since heard of many cases where spouses have helped the ill member with his or her irrational rituals. Although it is important to not enable or participate in a ritual it is also important to let them finish their ritual or compulsion with out yelling, ‘Stop it!’ Never say, ‘Can’t you just quit doing that?’ Talk to your mate’s clinician about what your role in the treatment should be. Your behavior can effect your spouse’s recovery for better or for worse. However, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can cure your mate. The illness is his responsibility.


“Even months later, William would still question his diagnosis. Then at other times he would insist that I had OCD too. When your mate is not thinking clearly, he or she may try to convince you that you are the one with the problem. You may question your own judgment at times. Follow your intuition and stick to your guns. Do not allow your partner’s disordered thinking to effect your self-esteem.


“Keeping a family together is hard enough even when neither member has a mental illness. Family counseling has helped our marriage tremendously. Make sure you find someone who also has a good understanding of your partner’s disorder. Having a couples therapist who knows how to do CBT when necessary has really come in handy.


“You can’t do it alone. And you can’t expect your impaired mate to meet all of your emotional needs. Maintain as many friendships as possible. Find a support group for yourself. Attend a monthly meeting for family members of people with OCD. This is a great source of education and coping strategies.


“Because so much of my daily life revolved around my husband’s dysfunction, other activities were critical. Find something that you like to do without your spouse. This will give a needed break and provide you with more energy for the next bout.


“Once William was out of the hospital and was successfully participating in the UCLA NPI day treatment program, I was so impressed by his improvement that I often forgot that he was still mentally ill. About three weeks after has initial diagnosis I began to miscarry my pregnancy. When I asked him to take me to the doctor I was shocked and hurt when he suggested I go alone. This is because he had so much work to do, even though he had taken a leave of absence for the quarter. In retrospect, I can see how his anxiety impaired his ability to respond appropriately. (At the time, however, I was not so understanding!)


“After several months of attending my family support group I found that I actually had something to offer others who were just beginning on the road to recovery. I was surprised at how good it felt to be useful. Later, I became involved with the OC and Spectrum Disorders Association. (It was formerly named the OC Foundation of California.) I frequently correspond with others who are in need of advice and support. Helping others has given some meaning to what is unquestionably the worst experience I have ever endured.


“Although there are many excellent treatments, a relapse can happen at any time. After a year of treatment, William’s psychiatrist weaned him off of medication. Many of his symptoms returned. And he was too embarrassed to tell anyone for almost twelve months. When I found out about it, the shock was almost unbearable. Like many mental disorders, there is no cure for OCD. Accepting that there will be setbacks makes them easier to handle when they occur.


“Especially during times of difficulty, I forget how far we’ve both come. Since William’s initial hospitalization he completed a successful course of difficult CBT. He also earned a master’s degree in physics. I now have a better understanding of his illness. As a result, our relationship has improved considerably. Yet I feel more independent than ever before.

“It’s been two years since William’s initial diagnosis. The first year was difficult and William’s progress seemed painfully slow at times. Medical bills totaled over seven-thousand dollars after insurance. But the results were well worth it. Despite many ups and downs, William’s functioning has greatly improved. He just passed his first oral exam, and is less than a year away from a Ph.D. He dreams of being a professor.

“Though I’m grateful that we’ve made progress and found some good treatments, I reflect soberly on the losses and many unknowns. I lost my husband for over a year. And I still don’t know who he is much of the time. I’ve lost many of my ‘friends,’ our church, my sanity at times, and even our unborn child. I realize that life has no guarantees. My husband or children might wrestle with the same demon on another day. I hate the struggle. But I know I’ve come out stronger. Though I don’t have any satisfying answers yet, I turn to God for strength. I try to deal with the problems as they arise, one day at a time.”

What a God-honoring attitude! Dealing with “the problems as they arise, one day at a time” is so healthy! I hope that helps you in some way.

Remaining Faithful

Additionally, I want to share someone else’s story that may inspire you in your situation. It comes from Tim Savage’s book, “No Ordinary Marriage”:

“A member of our church endured for decades the trials of a wife who suffered from mental illness. Thirty-two years of recurring emotional breakdowns rendered her incapable of even the most elementary affection. She rarely initiated a conversation, and seldom responded to levity. Plus she never offered the encouragement of sexual love. It was rather just year after year of mostly stony silence.

“One day when her husband visited me in the church office I plucked up the courage to ask him how he managed to remain faithful to his wife. Additionally I asked him why he never contemplated divorce. ‘I am so blessed!’ was his quick reply. ‘In what way?’ I inquired incredulously. He explained: ‘I believe the Lord brought the two of us together. I figure He chose me out of all the men of the world to take care of her.’ (At this point he wrapped his middle finger around his index finger to signify unity.) ‘I have asked God ten thousand times to give her a right mind. But he must have wanted to use her struggles to make me a better person.’

“Deeply moved, I asked, ‘How have you made it this far?’ His eyes brightened as if to announce an insight whose goodness had been confirmed a hundred times over the years. He said, ‘In bed every night after I tuck her in, I take her hand in mine. I then say, ‘I love you.’ I don’t let a day go by without telling her I love her. Then with hands linked together I pray and we go to sleep.”

In Closing:

Here are additional articles that you might find helpful to read:



WHEN GRACE AND REALITY COLLIDE: Dealing with the Mentally Ill (Part 1)

WHEN GRACE AND REALITY COLLIDE: Dealing with the Mentally Ill (Part 2)

Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.

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68 responses to “When Mental Illness is Affecting Your Spouse

  1. (USA) Ok, I have a boyfriend I love who has scizh paranoid delusions. I have been on a roller coaster ride for 3 years. I have tried to commit suicide to get out but my believes in Christianity stopped me. I asked my Pastor and he said I can do better if I got out what I’m struggling with. God didn’t give up, why should I? There is some good. I also believe there is some narcissism also. I just want to be ok and conscience free. Help.

    1. Ann, No one is worth trying to commit suicide over. Please find another way to “get out,” which doesn’t include killing yourself. I’m thinking this guy is not for you if you want to get out so bad that you’re willing to end your life over it. I pray wisdom, discernment and help for you to make the right decision here. You were born for a purpose –killing yourself is not that purpose. I hope you will prayerfully consider this.

  2. (USA) I thought my marriage was just bad until my husband sent me an article about control, on the flip side they the person being controlled could be “Passive Aggressive”. Upon further investigation, I believe this is what my husband is being attacked by. I have suffered for years with his behavior and now his suspicious delusions or telling him I am cheating. He has abandoned me and his children because of this. He refuses to admit he has problems and blames me for everything. I love my husband and want to reconcile. I pray for his deliverance.

  3. (USA) I have found myself in a situation that I did not see coming! I married at a young age. Of course that didn’t last but a few months. I remarried at 23 and that marriage lasted 35 years. My wife passed away due to Hep C and heavy drinking. I remarried my first wife a few months later. Before the rice hit the floor I knew it was a mistake. The controlling nature and “HER WAY” started as soon as we left the altar.

    Then I found out she had Hep C also. She takes heavy medication for what she calls a failed cervical fusion. (I believe she is just addicted.) We have been married for 2 years and I lost my job and any money I do get she spends it on her grandchildren. I love children, but we have to eat also!

    In the last 8 months she has gained 70 lbs. She just sleeps and eats and won’t even try to exercise. She has started talking to herself and saying things that don’t make any sense. I know she is very ill but the doctors are slow to help her. She won’t let me talk to them and I am lost as to what to do for her. She thinks she knows everything and won’t let me help her. Her own children thinks she crazy and refuse to help her.

    For my own health and sanity I feel I must leave and get on with my life. But I do care for her and I don’t know if that would be right. Any words of wisdom/encouragement would be a blessing.

    1. John, let me commend you by letting you know how much I respect and admire you for remarrying your first wife. I do not know the history of her past relationship(s), but it reads like she cares for her children and grandchildren. It is a beautiful story to read that the Lord has reunited an original married couple from so long ago.

      It seems like your wife may have a genuine mental illness that causes her to feel as though she needs to have things “HER WAY”. This may also stem from experiences she had in past relationships, including the brief marriage you two had way back when. Perhaps some counseling would help in this situation, preferably a Christian counselor or your pastor (if you have one or if you’re even Christian).

      From what I read, I get the sense that you actually love this woman and care deeply for her and her well being. You know she has Hep C, which you can relate to from your wife who passed on, this failed cervical fusion, and what evidently is a mental illness. Maybe she has depression or major depression? (weight gain, just sleeps & eats, no exercise, refuses to receive help from Doctors). Maybe even Bipolar?

      Her children should be desiring to help her because she is their Mother after all. If a person cannot rely on family, who can they rely on? Plus she spends money on their children, her grandchildren. Have you ever considered having a family meeting or an intervention of some sort? You could meet with her children, a counselor, a doctor, and whoever else you thing should participate in trying to help your wife beforehand. Put everything out on the table, explain all the problems you have noticed, express your love & compassion for her and your desire to see her get healthy, and then collectively develop and action plan.

      Above all else, pray. Pray, pray, pray to the Creator of us all, our Heavenly Father, through the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Great Physician and has the power to heal and guide you through anything.

      It genuinely appears that you do love your wife and not only care for her, but you’re concerned for her well being overall. I think you should should stay with her and try to work through her mental illness together along with her family (and yours). If you leave her now, you may always wonder what happened to her, feel guilty, harbor remorse, and undoubtedly she’d be on your mind for some time to come. Don’t give up on her because she has a mental illness. I’m sure she doesn’t like the condition she is in nor desires to stay in it but she may not feel there is any help for her. You could be the one to implement the change that she has so desperately needed for years. I hope things work out for you and her. May the Lord bless you both in this difficult time.

    2. John, I, like Joseph, hope the best for your situation. I know I’m reading this two years after the time you wrote it. However, I’m in the position of your wife. I’m probably a bit younger, as I don’t have grandchildren. My spouse and I have been married 20 years and I sit in your wife’s position, not yours. I don’t have the talking issue, and am very lucid and capable, but I did fall to a major clinical depression 6 years ago, gained 80 pounds and certainly checked out for a time. I’m not ill with a dreaded disease like Hep C, but maybe if I was, my spouse would have not checked out on me, too.

      We all come to our world’s with baggage, and mine,did, too. When life started to get too hard, he left me mentally and emotionally. He’s here and a remarkable provider. But now that I’m out of the depression (2 years running) my spouse fails to get close to me in any way. We’re just roomates, raising our children together. The Human Condition we all face is that struggle to get up everyday and put one foot in front of the other and try again. Even though I’m not “depressed” anymore, I face a world of “symptoms” every single day that could put me right back into that place of nothingness if I would let them.

      I have good days and bad days. The good days are extremely productive. I do what I believe a good mother and wife should do (cook, clean, laundry, drive the kids around, be social, friendly, etc). The bad days I seem behind the 8 ball the entire time, fighting that dreaded demon of wanting to sleep the day away, having no plan for dinner, not even seeing the house cleaning needs, but still making sure, always sure, that the kids are taken care of and loved. I even recently realized and acknowledged that I, too, was very angry at my spouse.

      Would you believe I didn’t even know? Satan is the author of confusion. Your wife may feel that she needs things her way because of something that happened the first time you were married. Have you sat down and asked her “Dear, I know you hurt. I’m so sorry I can’t take it away. But I also have some ideas that I believe could help you and us. Is there a reason, a real, deep reason, that you won’t let me lead our family?” Oh, if my spouse took this kind of care in questioning me I’d reach out and throw my arms around him.

      Do you know how many of us all (you too I imagine) have their greatest need to be focused attention on them for a while? Not gifts, not even acts of service like taking out the trash, just time together, sitting, listening, seeing life through her eyes. If you can do that for her, you can find out how to love her deeply again and walk with her hand in hand. And she’ll move mountains to overcome all that she can for you.

      Do it for me, John. I pray daily, sometimes hourly, that my precious husband will drop his fears someday and do this for me! Be the start. I’m praying for you and all just like you. Your wife didn’t mean for this to happen to her. Or you. She knows it’s harder to be the caregiver than the one who is all. We all know. You’re a hero. Believe in yourself. And remember who she was when you met and fell in love the first time. That young woman is still here. She’s counting on you. Pray for strength. Jesus is in this with you. “A cord of three is not easily broken”… Love to you and yours today. I hope I wasn’t too late for this marriage. Blessings.

      1. I was married at 23 and I am 56 years old now. Almost 34 years being with my mentally ill husband; I mean going in the woods saying he’s going to shoot himself, or running a hose in the window to kill himself, or sleeping in seperate beds 10yr’s or more now. We never hold hands, never kiss and every 3 or 4 months he says he wants or sitting in the same room for 2wks and never speaking a word to you or laying in bed 2 wks at a time. I’ve really about had it.

    3. Sounds exactly like my husband. Always was controlling and so was his family. 45 yrs. into this and I am just done. EVERYTHING is his way. I am the mentally deranged person. He has NOT made any money in 15 years and still says I have no patience. Really? He lied to me forever. He only wants me to forget about everything on a daily basis. Really? I do NOT have a mental illness and yet he is always telling me that I do. Mostly because at this point I WILL NOT INDULGE him in his fantasises anymore.

  4. I’m married 6 years to a man I believe has BPD. It’s a very crazy situation to be in and I don’t know what to do. The church is clueless, counselors have not been any help as they normally fall into his trap of manipulation and deceiving them and then it all gets turned on me. I feel like I’m losing my mind most days the burden and stress is unbearable.

    I’ve got 2 kids and an elderly mom I take care of in my home. My husband is now again threatening divorce. This has been going on the entire time weve been married, but this time I believe he will follow through. I have no finances, and no career. He’s already started to withhold the money and I’m desperate to know what to do. It’s damaging my faith in God as I cried out to him for what to do and I don’t know anymore. I’m doubting I can even hear him anymore, as well as battling feelings of does God really see and get this and why isn’t he doing something.

    Anyone who understands BPD will know what Im living through – utter hell. He just emailed a parenting plan and that’s putting me through another roller coaster as my youngest is only 2. Please pray for me and my family. Any insights would be appreciated. And pls don’t tell me to go to another counselor I can’t afford and who doesn’t get this at all. The last one had a PhD and turned on me because I can’t bring myself to say the words “I love you” anymore to my husband. There’s just too much damage. And then she told me in her opinion he doesn’t have a mental illness.

    1. Eileen… I just stumbled upon this site tonight and my heart is just grieved reading your comment. Its been two years since you posted… and chances are you will never see this since so much time has passed… but I just want to say that I sincerely do understand your hell and I hope that you have found support and have found peace.

      My husband also has BPD, but has not acknowledged it yet… if he does, there may be hope. I hope that your husband has faced his mental illness and has gotten help that has restored your marriage, and if he hasn’t… in two years time, I hope you have escaped and have fallen hard back into the comfort that only God can provide.

      I understand your response to what feels like God’s silence in giving you direction, but God is your comforter and He has not left you, and will not ever leave you. I’m in the midst of praying that my husband’s eyes are open to his illness so that we can fight it together. But if his eyes are not to be opened to it… I have to accept that I can not fight the illness for him. I hope you have come to the same conclusion. Blessings to you.

  5. (South Africa) I need urgent advice please. My Brother-in-law’s wife has real serious mental problems and we as a family are very very much concerned for his and his children’s lives. We need her to be evaluated urgently, forcefully if necessary, as she most definitely will refuse treatment. Please, its very urgent. Any information that will point us in the direction of help in Gauteng, or their hometown of Sasolburg, will be greatly appreciated. Kind Regards.

    1. Corne, I’m not sure if this will help, but the only place I can think to recommend you talk to is someone who works for the ministry of Focus on the Family – South Africa. They’re located in Kwazulu Natal, which is far in one aspect, and yet they might know of someone in your brother-in-law’s area. They seem to be fairly well connected, from what I can tell. You can go to their web site at http://www.safamily.co.za. They have a “Contact” link where you will see their phone information listed, as well as email info listed. I hope this helps in some way.

  6. Wow, it is heartbreaking to know that so many Christian families are struggling and living in fear. I am one who has endured some very brutal emotional, verbal, and mental abuse without even knowing it is mental illness. I just go to the point where I realized something is not right with him. We have separated many times over the past 14 years of marriage but always got back together because when he is right in his head he is a great person.

    I just forget that this mania can come on and destroy us in just one blow up …and over nothing. He is delusional, the whole world revolves around him, he is negative, paranoid, and thinks we are saying things when we are not (we as in me, and my 13 year old son, 12 year old daughter, and 9 year old daughter).

    He takes most of his anger out on me and my son but it seems to have gotten worse recently. He is so scary that I feel like I cannot talk or do anything right in his presence same with my son. I wanted to leave a week ago but my daughter was having her birthday. My son told me not to defend him that it just makes him worse. We are all walking on eggshells.

    I know I need to get him out of the house. He makes me feel guilty and like it is my entire fault when all I do (I am the provider) is work and come home and cook for the family. He tells me all the time that I don’t know how to communicate and calls me all kinds of names and then ignores me for days. I call that neglect and abuse. I am so scared to leave but I cannot talk to him about it. I am afraid he will flip out and then who knows what could happen?

    I have to sneak around and make plans to leave him and I feel so guilty for doing this because I know he will have to go live at the mission in our city. I am so frustrated. I don’t want to be the one to end this I have worked hard at trying to make this marriage work and it won’t matter in the end he will blame me.

    He is very vulgar and says things that no Christian man should say. I just want it to be over but I am even scared of that. And I will be left with the mess he has made of my son and the girls. I know God can heal them but I’m just hoping and praying I can handle it all.

    1. Precious Jill, I know I’m seeing this two years after the fact. I want to reach out and find out what happened with you and your family and encourage you. I too, live in a marriage, similar, yet, not, at the same time. Mine is exascerbated by the fact that I was the breadwinner 15 years ago, and a great one, when my husband’s job skyrocketed and he overtook my salary by double.

      When our third child was born 9 years ago, she was seriously ill, so I took 6 months off, which became a year, and we had to make the very scary, and I do mean scary decisions for me to quit working after 11 years with my company and 15 years working. God confirmed our decision by again doubling that salary. Life was good financially, and we gave back to the church and helped many in need, etc. But my identity took a major hit, because I was raised with a working mom and didn’t quite know what to do at home. And my husband was raised in poverty, and even though he knew where I had come from and my successes, he started to look at me differently.

      When our daughter was 3, she was diagnosed with a very serious chronic illness that was going to change all of us forever. Because I was already struggling with my identity, and because I firmly believe that I was under attack by Satan himself, a series of events in one week led to me falling into a deep clinical depression. 9 months went by before doctor in 2 different hospitals were able to do enough testing to conclude that, in fact, our daughter did NOT have this disease at all, though a biopsy had confirmed it conclusively 9 months prior.

      Life should have gone back to normal, but I was already gone emotionally. I was not catatonic, crazy, weird, none of the words or ideas you think of when I say gone. I mean I was just checked out. I could sit and play video games on my computer (once a tool for accomplishing much and great things) for hours and even late into the night. I stopped going to bed with my husband and would just play and play. Not social games to connect with people. Just brain games. (I would learn years later that this was the brain’s way of stimulating itself during this hard time -psychiatrists often use this tool, or movies or something that people enjoy, to keep their patient’s brains stimulated during a major depression where the hippocampus shuts down. – who knew?)

      However, it was damaging as an example for my kids and my husband completely judged it. He began treating me like you say your husband treated you. He has never lashed out at our children. I believe that was down so much to him as a child that he knows better. But he’s abusive with me in ways that made me (until recently) very confused… Silence, Withholding attention, love, communication, sex, touching of any kind… Yet, he will tell me he loves me every night, he will kiss my forehead and hug my quickly “goodbye” every morning, call me during the day to check on me for about a minute, call every single night when he travels, which is very often, and play his part perfectly.

      He’s helpful at home, offering to cook, clean, drive the kids, go to their activities, go to church with us, etc. But when it comes to discussing me or getting closer again (I’ve been out of the depression since 2012) he refuses to discuss and stays silent. There are no women. He is a workaholic. And our girls definitely notice his silence and blase’ ways toward me and now them. My oldest is in counseling because she feels abandoned by her daddy while he’s still in the home. He blames me! He said I did this to them.

      My point is, Jill, that Satan has the most cunning and evil ways. And he’ll stop at nothing to destroy your family and then pick you all off one by one. I’m quite aware of what I did to create this situation and why my husband has lost respect and love for me. But I also know that emotional manipulation and all that your huband is doing to you is his problem, his responsibility, not yours. If you could see how many people do this to others, you would realize that no matter what you did to change it, you wouldn’t be able to. And neither can I.

      Because I am 99% certain that my husband was raised with this same type of silent treatment and manipulation and withholding love and affection and attention. BUT ALL THAT BEING SAID… UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU EVER LET YOUR CHILD OR YOU BE STRUCK! NOT ONE TIME! THAT ONE IS ON YOU! YOUR JOB IS TO GET EVERYONE OUT THERE AND TELL HIM THIS IS NOT OK. You don’t have to discuss divorce, you just have to remove the kids and yourself from the situation, because he sounds angry and not realizing at times what he is doing. He needs to own and be responsible for this, but you need to be responsible for those kids who cannot be responsible for themselves. I wish you the best. I would love to hear what has happened in the last two years since you wrote.

  7. We’ve been married for 30 years. I’ve heard “I hate you” from my wife for 20 years. It was after marriage and children that secrets from her past started coming out. Abused as a child, rebellious teen coming to Christ, homosexual behavior, and then getting married, all without telling me anything. Then the anger and hate started. Blaming her father for how she treated me. There have been layers and layers slowly pealed back, like an onion. Each new layer, more anger, more blame, more inability to forgive, some healing, perhaps a light. Then another layer as a new part comes out.

    She refuses professional help, claiming all she needs is the church. The church says all she needs is the savior and a better more understanding husband. The church is ignorant on how to help and says we just need to pray more. They haven’t been slugged in front of their children, woken up with a fist in the stomach, and beaten down everyday. They haven’t been in the emergency room with a concussion getting a line of staples put in to hold the scalp on.

    It has been hard on our children, growing up with hate. Instead of memories of a secure home, they have hate and anger, lies and blame, and going to church with Mom after seeing her nearly kill Dad; while Dad stayed home to hide the bruises and wash off the blood. If I don’t go to church, I’m asked why my attendance is so bad. If I go to church with a black eye, I’m joked about with “What happened, wife set you straight again” Ha Ha Ha.

    The children had to hear their mother yelling about divorce and leaving, about being taken away and keeping them from Dad. One daughter has to deal with a memory of coming home from school to find blood on the door and across the kitchen floor, blood soaked bath towels in the bathroom, and Dad gone from the house. While I was getting my head stapled back together, she cleaned up the blood while Mom sat in the living room and did nothing.

    But the church asked me what I did to cause it. I had been attacked from behind my back, which she even admitted to, but they still asked what I did to provoke and deserve it. After all, they say, “she’s a woman, it can’t be that bad” and “you’re the head of the house, so any lack of Love is your fault as the husband” and “if you just loved her more, as Christ loved he church, then this wouldn’t happen.”

    There is no help from church or community. One time I did call the police for help and an ambulance. In place of help, they automatically asked me to leave the house, even though I was the one with a black eye and bloodied face. She had no mark at all, and I was told to leave or face arrest. Obviously the male deserves it. Only woman are abused. Abusers are always, and only, men.

    Then there are the pretend apologies, the forgiveness, the repeat, the new layer of story, the new reaction of hate and abuse. I’m not a professional therapist. I’m completely worn down. Christians are supposed to help bear one another’s burdens; until there really is someone that asks for help. Then everyone drifts off. Then there are only accusers, saying I somehow must have deserved it. I used to even believe them. And there is not one that says to her, that maybe she needs to change something, that maybe, despite the past, she is responsible for what she does now, without excuse.

    No, it’s easier to pretend to not see it. I don’t need another lecture on how to live with it, and if I were just a better Christian. I need help. You don’t tell a drowning person, “if you would just swim better.” But that’s the Christian church. I guess when there’s a bullet in my chest, someone will pray for God to forgive whatever I did to deserve it, if I’m even around after that. But she isn’t to blame, not in the church’s eye. She had it hard growing up so it’s understandable; and besides, everyone knows it’s never the woman that’s at fault.

    1. I’m so very sorry Jack, that you have found no support for what you are going through in your life with your wife. Most people are absolutely clueless, when it comes to the abusiveness that a woman can inflict upon a man. They recognize, sympathize with, and give help to women who are being abused by men (which they should receive the help and sympathy), but when it comes to a man being abused by a woman, they either make it into a joke (which it isn’t), they turn a deaf ear, or they minimize and ignore it. And what you found with the “justice” system is sadly typical. They often arrest or warn the husband who is being abused, rather than the wife who is causing it. This is wrong on so many levels. My heart bleeds with sadness over this. It just shouldn’t be.

      And the church? Again, it’s so very sad how naive and ignorant they are over this. I LOVE the church… they do so much good, but on this issue, they have no idea… and they should. Abuse is wrong, no matter who perpetrates it.

      Please do what you can to try to educate those who need it (as we are trying to do). And please realize that there are SOME of us who do get it (although we are in the minority). May we never give up in trying to open the eyes of the ignorant and the naive!

      As for what you can do… I think you realize that there is little you can do. It shouldn’t be, but it’s true. We’re living in an upside down world… wrong is applauded as right, and right is disdained as wrong. If you leave your wife, then you will probably lose your kids and then they would be alone in facing these types of situations. This is so wrong, but that’s what seems to happen. I just hope that you can find ways to protect yourself, and be the hero here for your children’s sake… they need one sane, non-abusive parent in their lives… that’s for sure.

      We posted an article on this matter, on this web site that is one of the saddest we have. But it’s important. I encourage you to read it, and read the comments below it, written by other men who are and have been abused by women. It’s sad, but we want to give voice to those men. That’s the least we can do. We keep praying that it will open the eyes of women, the church, and others who need it. Here’s where you can find it posted: http://host.agencysrvr.com/~marriage/husband-abuse-can-a-wife-abuse-her-husband/.

      I hope that in some way, it will help you. I wish we could do more… but we don’t know how to help more than this. Perhaps one of the web sites we link to, within the article, will be able give you insight in some way. I hope and pray so. I cry with you and your children, and pray for you… My husband and I both do. May you find the help and courage you need.

      1. Educate them? Suffered 25 years of mental abuse. Husband is beyond help now. And I get to take care of the abuser for the rest of my life. Yippee.

    2. I couldn’t agree with you more. There is NO support. Not from my husbands family, not from ANYONE. No one realizes just how crazy someone can get. Refuses help. Not even rational at this point. Absoulutely NO ONE to help. Just bad mouthing about how I am not understanding. 25 years of this and another 20 in the future. Platitude of liberal people who think they are helping you. No one in his mentally disturbed family has any idea they are the same. Kids are done with it. So am I. Need to live on welfare at this point…If I can get it.

  8. Really needing some assistance. We were robbed at gun point and I was shot. My wife hasn’t been the same since.

  9. (USA) I have been married for 13+ years to a man with Bipolar I, Rapid-cycling, and Adult ADD. We have had some hard times, but I want to give hope to everyone: It can get better. It took a long time to figure out an effective way to help my husband manage his illness as well as maintain a Christian marriage, and it’s not perfect, but it’s possible. Keep trying to find something that works, look to God for a perfect relationship and not to your spouse, adjust your expectations for your marriage, and remember that what your spouse has is a medical condition. Every marriage is different, so what works for us may not work for you, but what has worked for us is to live a really low-key life –the least amount of stress (both bad stress and good stress) the better. We strive for peace, and we have received it.

    1. Yes! I am in complete agreement and I appreciate you saying this. My husband has Intrusive thought OCD and I have recently realized after 9 years of trying to fix our marriage and him by myself that I will never do it. It is ONLY by Gods grace and assistance through his word that transforms us and our marriage everyday, that we will make it.

  10. Hello. My husband and I are in a loving, Christian marriage. We have had our share of bumps in the road due to a few major issues. One-I am infertile. Two-I am in cancer remission. Three-We want to adopt, but can’t agree on the race of a child we want to adopt. Four-I can’t seem to get along with his parents, who are divorced and remarried. I don’t know what else to do besides pray about these issues. It is an uphill struggle with all of these issues. Help! In His love, A Childless Mother/Frustrated Wife

  11. My wife is falling apart; everything worries her. When her reality is compromised she starts drinking and that’s when I get mad and she turns into this person I know she’s not. It’s getting worse everytime she been diagnosed already but nothing helps. If I don’t do what she wants it’s a fight. She doesn’t believe anything I say or do. It really hurts. We’ve had a rough marriage but I’m in love and I can’t bring myself to leave. I love her. She’s a good person any other time. Can someone help me?

  12. You do not want to hear of the horrible things that happen to the spouse and children of a severely mentally ill spouse. We have lost everything as this point. I want out and I can’t because he is too emotionally disturbed. Six lives have to go down. The mentally ill patient has all the rights and the rest of us have NO rights to life. No, it’s not about belittling persons. It’s just that no one else COUNTS. The financial loss, Wrecked relationships, etc.

    Bury your heads in the sand. Be positive? I am at my wits end. There is no help until someone dies and they say – Oh, isn’t that unfortunate. So sorry. Too late my friends. We are all screaming for help and no one hears our call. Christ? He has left those who deal with this everyday. Show me. Where is the help? No one in society WANTS to deal with this problem. You only criticize those who are actually dealing with the problem. With nowhere to go. It is not a marriage when one spouse constantly tells the other horrible things they do. We all need to be a saint. It is pretty hard to be a saint when you are trying to pay the bills and wonder what to do with the mentally impaired.

    Unless you have this in your life then you need to have a little more compassion for those whose are dealing with mental illness everyday. Most of it is brought on by people needing to have their way. They cannot cope with real life. To me it has become a battle of wills. The mentally ill live in their own world of which most of us a not a part. Do I need to be mentally ill too to have some compassion?

  13. My husband has depression and anxiety and he doesn’t do anything but sit around on the computer and won’t eat unless I fix him something. What’s my responsibility? H’se negative and blames everybody and everything for his problems. He lives in the past. We have six kids and they are all detached from him.

  14. My husband is very much older than me. But when we married he was more vibrant. Now he has suffered heart attacks and has become messy and nasty. I already suffered from bipolar and he is triggering my mental state. Would I be a horrible person to divorce him at this point?

  15. What if you were the one with mental illness? Would you expect everyone including your spouse to turn their back on you and walk away? Or would you want them to honor the vow to love you in sickness and in health? The people you love with mental illness did not ask for it! God placed these hurdles in your life to teach you how to be selfless and overcome any adversity. God loves people with mental illness just as much as those who do not. Now If the person refuses to get help, then that is a whole other situation that you might need to walk away from. So often when someone gets ill, they not only have to watch the people around them suffer because they are ill, they also have to deal with the symptoms of the illness.

    With mental illness, it is usually non-stop torture inside their heads along with physical,spiritual and emotional pain and chaos. Would you walk away from someone who had a heart attack? What if they told you they had cancer? When it got tough would you up and walk away? Stop and think about it for a moment… Why is a person with Mental illness treated differently than someone with a physical illness? Why does society think its OK to withdraw support from a loved one in their greatest hour of need? Is this what we want to teach our children?

    1. Bless you for your comments. I have been ridiculed, even by other Christians for trying to get help for my husband and hold our marriage together for 28 years. Mental illness is like any other disease, just as you stated and we should never turn our backs on someone in need. It is what the Lord expects of us. HE gave the ultimate sacrifice by dying on the cross to forgive our sins and I can do no less than to care for HIS son that HE has entrusted to my care.

      In January of 2015, my husband had a mental/emotional breakdown after a series of stressful events and announced that he could no longer deal with life or the marriage and was going to leave me. He stayed for 9 months, making his plans and finally left in September of that year. During that time, I pleaded with him once again, to accept the help being offered to him. He absolutely refused. The Christian therapist said that this is common with people who suffer from all the same afflictions as my husband. They don’t believe they have a problem, even though he has been diagnosed with ADHD, PTSD (from being a Marine and a Firefighter) SAD, OCD and hypomania. There is also Asperger’s in his family. I was his life coach and kept him on track. I had his back all these years and gave everything because I love him and because I made a covenant and a promise to him and to the Lord. His condition breaks my heart and I tried for so many years to deal with it on my own, instead of turning it over to the Lord. I think that is the lesson HE is teaching me by taking my husband away from me. HE wanted me to learn to lean on HIM and trust HIS will for us. A very hard lesson to learn but I remain hopeful.

      My husband filed for divorce over a year ago but nothing has happened. His mental issues are partly responsible and have made the process difficult for everyone involved. The attorney’s are very frustrated with his behavior but you never know what will happen when you are dealing with mental illness. Everything continues to be stalled and I see this as a sign of the Lord working in both of us. I have never given up.

      In the beginning, there were days when I didn’t think I could survive the pain and stress of what was happening to me but the Lord continued to give me strength and to help me move forward to the best of my ability. (I am dealing with a failed lumbar spinal fusion and losing function in my hands after a neck injury). The Lord is always with me and I know HE will never forsake me. Even though I may lose my husband, my home and financial stability, I know the Lord will provide. There is great strength and comfort in that knowledge.

      As with many of the other comments mentioned here, there’s always a lack of care in this regard. When you’re watching a loved one suffer and are left to deal with the fallout of their illness, you feel totally and utterly alone as if no one else can understand or offer help. It is extremely frustrating. When we turn our concerns over to the Lord, the burdens become lighter and we feel better equipped to handle what the day may bring. We are never alone in Christ and HE will see us through every crisis with HIS unconditional love, grace and peace. All we need do, is ask.

      1. Elizabeth, how I (we… my husband Steve and I) love your heart. How I wish more people could look into your heart, as God has shown us, and see the love of God living deep within you. Christians especially should know that sometimes we are called to help people who cannot give help back to us. They complicate our life in more ways than it seems reasonable, but when it is our calling, we need to do what we can, anyway.

        We both pray strength and insight for you –to know what you should do, and what you shouldn’t. Sometimes God says, “yes, do it.” And other times we are not to do so. I wish I had words that could ease your painful journey and give you added insight. I don’t have those words, but I know that God told me to write to you to tell you that you are an incredible woman that God loves very much. Please know that even though most people are not standing with you in this… God notices. May He show you little blessings along the way. Again, we love your heart and pray for you and for your troubled husband.

        “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ —to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11) Please know that: “The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18) May you sense His presence.

        1. Dearest Cindy and Steve, my life has been such a whirlwind, that I haven’t had the wherewithal to check back since October. I just now read your reply and my heart is so touched by your kind words, that I can’t stop crying.

          There have been many stressful days and today has been especially trying. My husband messaged me that he wants to come and get his things and that he is going forward with the divorce. He told me he’s sorry that I love him so much because he has never felt that way about me. So hard to hear but understanding that he is not entirely responsible for his actions and words makes it more bearable. I still continue to forgive him and pray for his healing and well being.

          The Lord continues to bless me in many ways and is walking closely with me on this path of HIS choosing. I follow in faith, knowing that HIS plans for me are good. When I pray for discernment, It is amazing to me how clearly I hear HIS voice. His unconditional love is so overwhelming and is freely given to a sinner, such as myself. How great is our God!

          Thank you and bless you, dear friends for the lovely scriptures. So helpful and supportive, especially after the events of the day. I lift you up in prayer and wish you a blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Year.