Marriage to a mentally ill husband

My husband and I have been married for 7 years. In the beginning he would several times a year stop working and be very unkind even mean and abusive to me. I believed that he struggled with depression and I tried to get him to open up. To pray with me to seek out help. He would only get more angry and ignore me. For weeks at a time. He began gambling and I was forced to work more and more to look after our family. Things just kept getting worse and worse. I finally sought out counselling for myself and was able to see his abusive behaviour and the awful impact it was having on my son and myself. My counsel or is an amazing lady who is also catholic so is very supportive for me to stay in my marriage and to help my husband get the help he needs. He is not a bad man. I realize now through my counsel or and him finally opening up to me that he is mentally ill. we separated for a couple of months as his anger was quite out of control.during that time he shared that he has been having hallucinations since his early 20’s. auditory tactile and visual. He often follows the directions that these voices give him and believes he is spiritually gifted. At times he will admit uncertainty of this giftedness. But mostly holds tight to this idea that he speaks to angels. He also is convinced that his phone is tapped that his co workers are out to get him and that I am having multiple affairs. I have spoken to our priest and to outreach workers in our archdiocese. My husband has spoken to our priest and shared with him what he experiences. But he will still not get help. He rants and yells at me in front of our 5 year old son. He holds us hostage to his rants and won’t let us leave the room. I am so scared what this is doing to our child and at work several of my co workers have noticed that I am struggling to manage my job. I often cry on my way home from work and struggle to concentrate. I don’t know what to do. Sometimes I just wish I could tell him to leave and not let him come back. No not sometimes. Often. I am hurting and it hurts me so much to see him descend into this dark place where I can’t help him. I have prayed and prayed.

Any advice will be great.y appreciated. I am so lost.

You have to protect yourself and your son. When there is actual danger, as in your case, separation may be the only way to be safe. Do you have family nearby who could help you? And does he have family who might try to talk him into getting help?


I agree with Angel. Your first duty is your son’s safety; your second duty is yours. Once you are both safe, you can worry about getting help for your husband (or not, if he has made that impossible). Work with your counselor, and pay attention to any warnings she gives you. Remember that the vast majority of people in your position realize later that they had been UNDER-estimating the danger they were in.

If the things that are happening to you were happening to a friend of yours, what would your advice to her be? And, if you aren’t following the advice you would give a friend in your situation, why not?


My family is very helpful by frustrated that I keep letting him come back. His family is no help. Apparently there is quite a bit of mental illness in the family and they seem to ignore it. His sisters barely even talk to me and really don’t seem to want to hear that he is unwell.

I feel responsible for him I guess. I am scared that he will get worse away from us. It is so painful to watch the man I love struggling to know what is real and what isn’t. Sometime when he shares what is going on in his mind I just want to cry. I know he loves us so very much.
He is at his moms now. He went a couple hours ago. It was difficult for him to leave and I don’t know what he will do if I don’t let him come back.

Are you safe?


Then you should be arranging professional help for him. If he won’t go for that then it’s on you to separate from him or take legal action, such as acquiring POA or guardianship.


Yes. I think he is more of a danger to himself than us.

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I can’t convince him to go see a physiatrist. He saw a counsellor for a while and it did help with his anger. He tries very hard to keep it under control. I just can’t tell unless he tells me how loud and bothersome the voices are. Some days are better than others but he hears them everyday.

He is scared of losing himself if he takes medication.

Will he at least go to his general doctor if not to a psychiatrist? Schizophrenia is a tough illness, he should definitely be under the care of a psychiatrist but if he won’t go, maybe he’ll be willing to at least see his regular physician?

You shouldn’t live in this environment, especially since you have a child. It’s not healthy for a 5 year old to witness anger outbursts, especially when the person has little to no control of himself. I would separate myself and my son from this situation and tell my husband that him coming back is contingent on him seeing a doctor and staying on his meds. Maybe he’ll be more willing to do it if he knows that he might lose his family otherwise.


He doesn’t have a family dr. He goes to walk in clinics when he absolutely must. No one that he has a relationship with. He has promised to get help before but hasn’t yet. I have until Sunday to figure out what to do. As that’s how long he agreed to go to his moms. He had a really good talk with our priest and agreed to give me the weekend to relax.

Remember that you aren’t responsible for his refusal to seek help. You seem to be doing everything you can, and you aren’t called to do more than that. I’m praying for you and your family, and I hope that you all find peace.


I am scared that he won’t get help.
Is it a sin if I don’t let him come back? Am I breaking my vows? I know he loves us so much but I am not sure that I can keep on like this. Some days I am unsure what I even want anymore. I love him too but it gets harder and harder to see the man I married thru this sickness. In sickness and health. I made that vow yet here I am questioning my marriage.

Thank you. It feels good to share. I keep,it so bottled up all week at work.

I am scared that he won’t get help.
Is it a sin if I don’t let him come back? Am I breaking my vows? I know he loves us so much but I am not sure that I can keep on like this. Some days I am unsure what I even want anymore. I love him too but it gets harder and harder to see the man I married thru this sickness. In sickness and health. I made that vow yet here I am questioning my marriage.

No. God does not require you to risk your life or your son’s life in the vain hope that maybe this time your husband will listen and get help.

The Catholic Church does not teach that separation and divorce are always evil. Personal safety is one of the acceptable reasons for separating (and, if necessary, even divorcing) from your husband. Yes, in an ideal world, he would get help and you could all live together in happiness. But he is preventing that. That is not your fault, and you are not culpable for the choices he makes.


No, it’s not a sin, and it’s not breaking your vows, to keep yourself and your son safe.


You can’t be responsible for him if he won’t be responsible. And from what you say, he is refusing help. It isn’t a matter of whether he loves you or you love him. If someone is sick, they need to see a doctor before they make other people sick. In effect, he is sickening you and your son by his refusal to get help. Do not let him come back until he is under the care of a health professional and you actually see progress. Just to say he will go, or that he is going is not enough. If he loves your son and you enough, he will spend this time away from you to help himself. But until he does, he should not be living with you and your son and causing you such distress. That is no way to live.


If I knew someone as you describe I would try to convince them that they need the help of a mental health professional as soon as is possible. I believe that help is available which can alleviate such problems to a remarkable degree in often a remarkably short space of time.

As you say he may not be a physical danger to you but it’s causing you mental distress to an unhealthy degree, also possibly to your child.

If he loves you both then he must get help with this.

God bless you all.


I lived your story for decades.
After 24 years of verbal abuse, threats to me, threats in front of the kids, you name it, I threw the man out, to protect our children. Four months later he killed himself.

I had tried everything, including booking doctor’s appointments, counselling and so on. Every single deal with him was broken.

You will do what is neccessary to protect yourself and your child. Everything else is beside that. God understands.

Pray you don’t live in a gun rich environment, just saying.


He is being fairly calm today. I told him he needs to stay away and get help. For the moment he is listening. But until he gets help I can’t trust it. I have to be strong and it is so helpful to hear that others agree that his behaviour is not ok. Sometimes he rants and rants and I get so confused. I think it’s me making him act the way he does.

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