What to do if a mentally ill spouse is unwilling to get help

Healing and rebuilding your marriage may seem like an impossible task. Your energy and optimism are probably depleted, if not demolished. Your emotions may be frayed to the breaking point. But if possible, do everything you can to save your marriage.

However, if you’ve worked at your relationship for a long time and tried everything mentioned in this book but nothing is working, you may have to consider other hard options like separation or divorce.

Tragically, sometimes bipolar spouses remain in denial of their illness, or refuse to get help. This hard-lined attitude leads to ignorance of the devastating effects the disorder has on their family and causes endless, unbearable pain for their spouses. There is only so much physical, emotional, and financial stress a marriage or family can take. Healthy spouses eventually must make some hard choices for their own well-being and for their children’s welfare.

The Bible teaches that married persons have a responsibility for meeting not only the material needs of their spouse and family, but also for their emotional and spiritual needs: If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

If you’ve exhausted your efforts through counseling and other means of repairing your marriage, and if your bipolar spouse still remains unresponsive, you may have to make a tough decision: keep trying to restore the marriage, or file for a legal separation or divorce.

If you reach this point, it is important to find a good attorney to help you understand the legal and financial realities you will face.

While there are differing interpretations of Scripture regarding divorce, we both believe that, for certain cases, there are biblical grounds for divorce. While it is a heartbreaking outcome, we support those who have been forced to make such painful choices. One helpful book that gives a good biblical perspective is Divorce and Remarriage in the Church by David Instone-Brewer.

Note: This is an excerpt from my book, Mental Illness and Your Marriage. To find out more, please click here.


Hi, I'm Jim. I've been through the emotional wringer. I've been a successful pastor and leader and a loving father, but I've also been suicidally depressed. I'll teach you the techniques I used to heal myself, and give you the tools to reclaim your life and move forward!

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