meandhubsI know many of you are probably wondering what this is doing in a parenting topic, but to be honest, if you don’t have a strong marriage, parenting is going to be just that much harder. With having bipolar disorder and being a bipolar mother, I’ve learned a thing or two. I need a good partner to help me during my tough times. One who understands the illness and knows that I’m ill.

That person is my husband. He’s been my husband since May of 1999 and we’ve been together since I was 15 years old. We just celebrated being together for 21 years. We’ve beaten the odds! We’re high school sweethearts, we had a child before we were married, we’ve been through life and death together, but most of all we both have a mental illness.

We are each other’s strongest support persons and because of that we’ve been able to parent our children in an effective way.

Even though we both have been diagnosed with having bipolar disorder, we have some how managed to fight through it and we always come out stronger than before. Trust me, we do not have that dreamy, everything is perfect marriage. But we do have a marriage that works for us and one that has been working for over 21 years.

Here are just a few secrets to help you!

  • Communicate! Neither party in the couple are mind readers. You can’t expect your partner to know what you need or want even if they do suffer from the same illness as you. Everyone’s needs are different. You have to be open with your partner and let them know what they can do when you are having a difficult time.
  • Be honest! If you are having a bad day, make sure your partner knows this. They can’t help you if you are trying to hide what is really going on with you. Take down that wall and let your partner in. They are there because they love you and they want to help you.
  • If you can’t talk out how you feel, consider writing a letter to your partner. Sometimes we express how we feel better through writing than actually talking. You can talk about the letter at a later time.
  • Make time for one another! This is probably the most important suggestion I can give you. Put the computer, cell phones, TV’s and any other electronic devices away and spend some good, quality time together. Hubs and I both love to play cards and board games together. This is something that you can do together to have fun and you can even let the kids join in if you want.
  • If your partner has a mental illness, try to be understanding. You know what it’s like to walk in their shoes. This has been difficult for me as my husband is newly diagnosed and it’s been hard for me not to fall on him for most of the matters I can’t handle when I am stable. I have to remember that he too gets overwhelmed and sometimes parenting is hard work for him just like it is for me.

Being in a bipolar marriage hasn’t been easy for either one of us. Just like bipolar parenting is hard work, so is a bipolar marriage. But following the tips above can help in any circumstance. If you feel you can’t communicate well enough with your partner, it may be time to consider counseling to help you get your marriage back on track. When a person has a mental illness it can be hard on both parties and having someone from the outside, with fresh eyes looking in can help the marriage tremendously. I’m a firm believer that having a strong marriage can help make your job as a bipolar parent that much easier.