Sat 18 Jan, 2014 09:18 am
My husband and I have been married for 36 years. We have raised two wonderful daughters together, both of whom are adults and living on their own. Throughout our marriage he has had three affairs, the most recent being now. In the past, I have forgiven him and we have moved on. I thought. Why would I do this? My husband was diagnosed with ADHD many years ago. That comes with a lack of social boundaries and no impulse control. With that understanding, I could forgive him. But, almost two years ago, he was also diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder. That comes with depression and hypomania. He has been undergoing therapy for this and that has led him to believe that I have been enabling, rather than supporting, him all this time. He says it has also given him the strength to tell me he wants out of the marriage.
I am devastated, as I still love him very much and know that, while there have been difficult times, there have also been some tremendously good times. He will not try counselling, so I am trying to be at peace with his decision. I love him, so I want him to be happy, and he believes this is what will make him happy.
I have done a lot of reading and thinking about what he said, and I think I have a vague understanding of what he means. I don't want him to resent me or consider the 41 years we have known each other to be a waste. I want him to know I helped him the only way I knew how and, at that time, we never even new the term "enabling" existed.
Would it be wise to give him a letter telling him what I think happened and apologize for making him feel the way he did? I think my reasons for wanting to do this are to find some closure for myself, but then I second guess that and wonder if it really is to get him to change his mind. Any thoughts?
Only if you like being a doormat.
He's hiding behind his diagnoses as excuses for treating you like ****.
Just because he doesn't want to have counseling doesn't mean that you shouldn't. I think you really need it. You need to see why you allowed this to happen to you for so long, and why you are believing him when he claims it's all your fault. Despite his diagnoses, he remains an (alleged) adult, and is putatively competent.
You do not have to take his crap.
Damaged said: he wants out of the marriage
You've given him 36 years of your life and that's the thanks you get!
So let him pack his bags and clear off, then go out and get yourself a proper man..
There are millions of bi-polar, ADHD men who don't cheat on their wives REPEATEDLY. Both you and he have used this as an excuse for his cheating.
In that way, you have "enabled" him to not be responsible for his actions or to face the consequences that he could lose you. Now, he has control of the situation - and he decides to leave you.
Please get some counseling. I have a feeling you are in for a real rough ride with him in the months to come. You need to get the tools to use in dealing with this. A good counselor who specializes in mental illness issues would be best.
Forget the letter. He is already way past that kind of reasoning.
While reading your post, I was thinking "doormat" and I was glad that jespah wrote exactly that.
People with ADHD are sometimes masters of deception, especially when it benefits their own selfish ways. You not only have become victim to his behavioral shortcomings, you also gave him the green light to not be held accountable for his behavior. He has played you for years, don't give him
another chance to continue his selfish demeanor.
Forget about him for a minute and think about yourself and only yourself: get good counseling and an even better divorce lawyer! I am almost certain that he'll come crawling back in a few years, but by then I hope you're less loving toward him and give him the kick he so deserves.
Good luck, I know you need a lot of strength to get through this - you can do it! Have your daughters help you along the way....
First of all get a great lawyer, and please don't write anything attempting to "understand" why he thinks you enabled him. He can't blame anyone but his own chemical imbalance for the bi-polar diagnosis. You can't enable someone to become bi-polar, I'm also willing to bet that his previous boundary issues and impulse control were because of undiagnosed early signs of bi-polar disorder.
I feel terrible about all this , but he is struggling with a very tricky disorder. The medication has to monitored carefully to make sure he's benefitting from the meds. Often, patients stop taking their meds because they miss the manic phase and hope to stay there, but when the depression swings in they are miserable.
Please please please see a therapist who can guide you through all the manifestations of bi-polar. It can vary wildly and I'm not an expert on mental health issues. I hate to use mental when it's a chemical imbalance affecting behaviour. I'm begging you not to rely on your good nature, you won't be able to help him and you may hurt yourself, get educated on the disorder because if he becomes delusional he could be declared incompetent regarding legal matters. You won't be punishing him, you will be safeguarding yourself as well as him.
... My husband was diagnosed with ADHD many years ago. That comes with a lack of social boundaries and no impulse control
Either you have been grossly misguided or have been brainwashed. The sad part here is that this misguidedness is hurting you now and may hurt you worse in the future. Ask and speak directly to a psychologist and/or learn about the characteristics of ADHD. Also learn about Bi-polar Disorder. Stop listening to his take on this or anything else he has to say about his diagnosis.
Nothing gives him the right to dishonor your marital vows and abuse and/or neglect you.
Would it be wise to give him a letter telling him what I think happened and apologize for making him feel the way he did?
This is the part that is the most troubling here.
Ummm,....you have no responsibility for his actions - either good ones or bad ones. Stop being a victim and stop enabling him.
Your behavior and wanting to apologize to him is why you should seek out an excellent long-term counselor (you don't have one now?) AND an even better lawyer
. Do not pass go...do not collect $200.
I can imagine your married life has been an emotional roller coaster . Hypo mania can manifest itself in many ways including hyper sexual behavior and irritability. The lows can manifest themselves as depression, negativity, pessimism. People with this disorder often exhibit poor impulse control and low frustration tolerance. Even when taking medication there are no guarantees it will be as effective as you hope. Behavioral therapy is often used in conjunction with medication. If he is unwilling to get counseling for himself...well you can't force him. It sounds like he is unable to deal with his issues and has no emotional insight, so it's much easier to blame you. Don't become his victim or caretaker. I believe more than likely he'll come back around..don't become his emotional punching bag. Get counseling yourself . It'll open your eyes to a lot of things and help you cope.
Dear damaged, I see many old friends here urging you to take care of yourself. The members don't usually get involved unless they sense risk in your situation, and they want you to be careful. I see Calamity, Germlat, Ragman, Punky and Jespah all responded with with usefull info, you are not really alone, you have access to a ton of folks who have been in similar situations and got help getting the rubber to hit the road. Please come back and let us know how your doing. But don't put off getting a lawyer and getting solid useful therapy.
I can understand.. the circumstances and need for forgiving, which is not always a good idea and then you multiply it over years.
It depends, cultures differ.
Me, I hope she works her way out of this morass and gets away.
I once worked in a shop and during coffee-break chat the 50-ish manageress told me that her husband once became very possessive and controlling towards her after about 20 years of marriage, so she packed her bags and walked out to live in a place of her own.
After a few weeks her grown-up son came running into the place she worked shouting "Mum, mum, you've got to come home quick, dad's cracked up and is on the verge of killing himself because you've left him!!!"
So she went back to him and he never again dare pull the "possessive controlling" stuff in case she walked out again.
He'd learnt his lesson well..
Bipolar sucks. But it's not an excuse.
He's in therapy and on medication (I assume) to control his bp, right?
There comes a point when you have to stop making excuses and take responsibility for your actions. Unfortunately, casual sex is a byproduct of mania in some bp patients. The person may or may not be able to stop doing it during a mania. However, it sounds to me like he is well aware of what he is doing and has no remorse. Which means this behavior is not the bipolar.
And enabling him? That's bullshit. I can tell you that the only person making the decisions in a bipolar mind are the bipolar person. That's what sucks about it so badly for those who love a bipolar. You aren't enabling anything. If he truly didn't want to act that way he'd ask for help to stop. He'd apologize. He'd work to change things. Not start blaming you for making it easier for him. It's easy enough to lose control as a bipolar. Bipolars don't need help.
And if he said these things during an episode and later retracted this might be a different story. Mania makes for some really interesting and ugly conversation some times. But he can't be stuck perpetually in a mania. I think this is how he truly feels.
You can still love him but maybe you aren't meant to be together.
Being with a bipolar is hard. And many many many marriages break up on account of one partners condition. You deserve better.