With both men and women showing high percentages of conditions like depression, anxiety, and addiction – it’s no wonder why the divorce rate due to mental illness is soaring.

Being married to someone with a mental health condition can be difficult and borderline exhausting. But it’s not as hard as being the one living with the condition itself. Mental health conditions can lead to an array of behavioral changes and mood changes, all of which can affect a happy marriage. These negative events gradually build up the stress in your marriage to the point of no return – if not addressed quickly. This is a widespread issue that can no longer remain behind closed doors. 

couple holding hands and facing sunset
Image by Alex Iby

Opening up this much-needed conversation, of course, is never easy. Emotional problems in a marriage can be just as damaging as physical and financial problems. But the only way to improve the marital issues caused by mental illness is to recognize them for what they are. Only then will you be able to find a solution as a couple and move forward as a team. 

Here are a few ways to avoid mental illness from ruining your marriage:

Start the conversation

Studies report major depression and addictions as the top two mental health conditions that contribute to divorce. The number one cause being a lack of communication.

Communication is a vital component of a successful marriage, whether you are suffering from a mental health issue or not. While it is a gut reaction to want to conceal your troubles and isolate yourself from other people, doing the opposite and reaching out to your partner can have the dual benefit of being therapeutic to yourself and your marriage. Talking to your spouse about the negative thoughts and feelings running through your head allows the both of you to see your situation clearly, giving you the chance to identify the cause of these problems and to plot solutions. If anything, airing your grievances is certainly helpful to reduce some of the stress that can fester by keeping your negative thoughts sealed away. 

Identify your triggers

Anxiety sufferers tend to seek a lot of emotional support from their partner, and when they don’t receive it they can feel impatient and irritable. Those with depression fail to realize that their environment has as much to do with their illness as their own inner troubles do. Knowing what makes your mental illness worse should serve as a building block for improvement. If you and your partner can avoid these triggers from happening, you can save yourselves a discussion or two.

It’s important to ask yourself what is triggering certain negativity and then work to remove or change them. Work to surround yourself with things that feed your positive energy.  

Seek professional guidance

Talking with your spouse about your issues is essential to maintaining a healthy marriage. However, sometimes this may not be enough. Don’t be afraid to seek help. The stigma of seeing a therapist or counselor may seem like waving the white flag on saving your marriage. But a fresh set of eyes on an old problem can offer amazing new insights into your marriage. You’d be surprised how many details you never noticed before are actually pivotal in your relationship.  

You can make a choice not to allow your mental illness to destroy your marriage. As long as the person with the condition is willing to seek treatment and help themselves, the marriage has a fighting chance.