Sometimes, I think that it’s better to be single. Unless you have a great relationship, marriage can be extremely stressful at times, with lots of worry.
If we have a psychological disorder, I believe that marriage can be an even more perilous undertaking than it is for neuro-typical folk.
Although the divorce rate is at its lowest point for 40 years in the UK, around 42% of marriages still end in divorce, according to the Office of National Statistics.
Those of us with mental health difficulties have an increased chance of divorce. According to one study, depending on which disorder you have, there is between a 20 and 80% increase in the probability of divorce.
The stress of being in a relationship can be enormous, with all the emotional swings. I’ve been divorced, and it was just horrendous. My ex-wife had an affair and took my son with her. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I went through months and years of extreme worry, suicidal feelings and even attempts. Absolute hell on earth.
I understand that this isn’t the case for everyone, and just over half of all marriages do succeed. But for those that don’t, it can be awful.
Mental illness affects the dynamics in a relationship. People with social anxiety can often find it difficult to go out to restaurants and bars with their spouses. If one of the partners is suffering from depression, they can become rather distant, and this can be misconstrued as a lack of love and affection. It can also result in not being able to work, which will inevitably put a major strain on any relationship.
If you’re single, you can control your life, to a certain extent. You have much more stability in your mind, because you can control your day-to-day activities and emotions. When you’re in a relationship, you can lose a lot of this control. You have to do what the other person wants to do, a lot of the time. And emotional instability is much more likely, I would say, as there is so much more to worry about.
Being in a relationship also has a lot of good points, of course. There is the joy of being in love and doing stuff together. And relationships can be good for your mental health. I’ve often been able to go out to places I can’t go by myself. If it’s going well, it can be truly wonderful.
But the thing is, these good relationships frequently don’t last. In the western world, at least. If it doesn’t work out in the end, then you are putting your mental health at great risk.
Relationships are extremely complex in their dynamics. For some of us, with mental health challenges, I just believe that it might be simpler if we stay single. A much easier way to live. Sure, you won’t get the nice bits you get from relationships, like having kids, or the great feeling you get by being in love with someone. But, I think the odds are against many of us when it comes to making these relationships work for life. I really think that being single is greatly underrated.
I also have a blog, at www.ibeatmysocialanxiety.com. Please stop by, if you can, and subscribe to get information about social anxiety and mental health in general. Many thanks! John