on the brink of divorce

my wife and i have been on the brink for about 3 years. we have been married 6. my wife is bipolar. she had/has serious problems with pain killers for about 3 years. she has been in and out of 2 rehab clinics. she has been off them for about 2 months now though (definitely the longest). my side of the family has been pushing/begging me to divorce her because she’s so unstable and as a result, not a very good mother (sometimes she’s great but it’s off and on). we have an incredible 4 year-old. she (wife) has had several run-ins with my family as well. the latest was a social embarrassment on facebook that brought out some very personal issues of mine and my family that brought out tons of email from friends and family on my side.
initially after the fb incident, i was thinking about a divorce but decided against it after talking with a lawyer (surprisingly). the lawyer didn’t think that i really wanted a divorce because i’m Catholic and i didn’t want to chance ruining my daughter’s life if i didn’t get custody for some reason or another. also, i don’t really hate my wife (which the lawyer said i really needed to if i went through with it). so, i went to see our church’s family faith coordinator. after speaking with her for a couple hours, i have come to the conclusion that she thinks a divorce is the best solution because she thinks i married my wife to try and save her from her situation and never really loved her fully (not sure if she’s talking annulment or what). my wife did not have a very good childhood and as a result, not much of a family on her side. i don’t know if i love her right now though. things are just so messed up. so, i am kinda at a cross-road. i have been praying for God to help me decide what is best. obviously, i do not have an answer. i am just curious if anybody can relate or has anything to offer. prayers would be great as well.

How would your daughter benefit from a divorce?

Love is a choice, if you want to love your wife you can, just like as Christians we choose to even love our enemies as Christ commanded us to.

I don’t know what you said to the family faith lady but just based on what you have said here I am appalled that she would immediately tell you to divorce your wife as your first, best option after a mere two hour conversation.

My advice, based on the info provided is to just suck it up and tough it out, be a man about it and decide you are going to love your wife no matter what she does or what friends and family may think and say about her, you might even want to think about defending and protecting her from time to time against them.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.”

I am surprised about that woman from the church. I think seeing divorce as a solution in our time is a temptation for many.

Did you not stand just six years ago and vow infront of God that you would stay by her side in sickness and in health, for better or for worse till death do you part?
I feel very sorry for your wife. Must be horrible to suffer like she does and its probably caused by the things she experienced as a child.
I would guess that the last thing she needs now is to have the message once more that love is relative and that she is not worth not abandoning.

You know that divorce is not an option for Catholics. If you think you have not validly married - which I think takes a lot more to prove than that you also had sympathy for the situation of your fiancee who struggled after a bad childhood and also has emotional consequences from that - then you might seek an annulment.
Sympathy is a valid part of love. I also felt sorry for my ex boyfriend who had a trying childhood. It made my affection for him deeper, but not in a bad way.

However, do consider what your child would suffer because of divorce. Divorce is a catastrohpe for children… This is a known fact that a huge percentage of divorce-children have all kinds of difficulties, especially when it comes to ever forming lasting family lives of their own. So if you do leave your wife you will not only divorce her but also cause great pain to the life of your child.

When people are married they have times where they feel out of love… the feelings come and go, thats why God made matrimony to be an act of covenant. Love is an act of the will.
It sounds like your wife really needs you and I hope you stick in there. It wont always be as hard as it is now. God will give you sacramental grace that you need to overcome this.

Is your wife in therapy? I’ll pray for you.

Peace be with you.

Well I am somewhat surprised that the lawyer told you that you have to hate your wife to divorce her! That is totally untrue. Many people who separate and/or divorce from their spouses love the spouse deeply but can no longer live with the pain and chaos of addiction, abuse or adultery. If your wife is putting your child into unsafe situations then separation is the healthiest thing you can do for your daughter.

You do not have to seek a divorce, but you should consider your daughter’s safety and health as well as your own. If your wife is addicted and in need of mental health care, how can she be an adequate, let alone, a good mother? How can she be a full partner to you?

Yes, you need to be aware of the reasons why you chose such a damaged person to marry. If she cannot succeed in rehab and medical treatment for her bipolar, you are going to go through this again and again, and your daughter’s own mental, spiritual and emotional condition could be damaged in the meantime.

I am not going to advise you to separate from your wife, only you can decide if that is the most sensible choice for your daughter’s safety. I would suggest that you meet with a priest, as well as see a family therapist yourself, and get medical advice about your wife’s prognosis. These are serious issues and nothing to toy with, you must take this very seriously because now you have a daughter who will be affected by her mother’s mental illness and addiction.

I think your advice to “suck it up and tough it out” might be good IF the OP’s wife were just a self-centered woman with a few character defects, AND provided they either didn’t have any children or the children were of an age where they understood their mother’s handicaps.

He is talking about someone who is mentally ill, with an addiction to painkillers. This is not something a spouse can “tough out,” especially when there is a young child in the picture. Addicts are not known for making good judgments and being a parent requires EXCELLENT judgment most of the time, as well as a high degree of foresight that neither addicts nor the mentally ill possess. Addicts will put others in danger to get their addictive substance.

There comes a point in time when an addict has to “hit bottom” and understand that unless he/she gets straight, life will basically SUCK. Sometimes, the best thing that a family can do is withdraw. That could mean separation, sometimes the family has to get away for the safety of the other members (crime tends to go along with addiction). At that point, some addicts/alcoholics realize or recognize their problem and they get treatment and recovery. Some never do, but at least the family is safe, and the other members can pursue their own recovery.

If you have no history with addiction, please don’t tell someone in this situation to “suck it up.” Messages like that can mean addiction continues for generations.

My grandmother was bi-polar. When she had the correct medication, she was the most incredible, loving woman. With out it, she was, in her manic states, the scariest person you could imagine.

I have great sympathy for you-- and her. I am willing to bet that her addiction to painkillers is a desperate attempt to self-medicate the pain of the bi-polar. If she is not currently taking medication for her bi-polar, she needs to see a competent psycharist and get help.

You and your daughter need help too. I can tell you, from personal experience, the bi-polar affects the person and those who love them. Both my mom and her brother had lots of issues with trust, building healthy relationships, and parenting (since my grandmother wasn’t diagnosed until both her kids were grown). That in turn affected me and my cousins-- not as strongly, but the echoes were imprinted on us.

Part of marriage is the “in sickness” part. If your wife had cancer, would you leave? If she had alzheimer’s, would you leave? Mental illness is just that-- illness. Please exercise all your options to get her help before you leave her-- and think of what custody arrangements would be like for your daughter as well.

May God bless you, and give you answers.

I agree with Juliane’s points - mental illness and addiction are serious conditions that can devastate a family and damage the children. It’s not as simple as suck it up and stay together no matter what. Sometimes separation and divorce are needed in order to protect the other members of the family. The OP needs to see a priest and a family therapist with medical background, to further assess the situation and formulate a plan about what to do in this difficult situation.

All mental illness is not the same, likewise all drug addiction is not the same. A woman who is bi-polar and addicted to painkillers is not the same as a paranoid schizophrenic who is addicted to crack. Juliane’s points are based on her assumptions about drug addicts rather than facts.

I know a lady who is bi-polar and is a good mother to her seven children, certainly a woman with bi-polar can be a adequate mother. Likewise I know a mother who has had a prescription drug addiction for over ten years now, she is a great wife and mother and is not a selfish criminal as Juliane assumes she would be.

There is no mention in the OP’s post of any child abuse going on, in fact he points out his wife is capable in his judgment of been a good mother. Based on the information given the child does not need to be separated from her mother to protect her.

While mental illness and drug addiction can cause difficulties in a family, divorce by its very nature is the dismantling/destruction of the family and is shown to always damage children.

Unless the child is been abused by the mother, which there is no mention of occurring by the OP then the child would not benefit from been separated from her mother. The child has a natural right to be raised by both her mother and her father, just as the mother has a natural right to be a mother to her daughter.

Based on the information given the OP should do his best to help his wife with her difficulties, if that means getting her outside help that is what he should do. This is what he swore to do when he made his marriage vows.

I am not saying that the OP should or should not divorce - none of us can make that decision. However one thing we must understand is that divorce and annulment are not and/or thing. No tribunal will hear an annulment case until the civil divorce is finalized.

My mother is bipolar. I defnitely had a rocky childhood, but I can honestly tell you what hurt me most was my father, for two reasons: First, he took an escapist approach in dealing with my mother, and second, he eventually divorced her. The pain and abandonment I felt when my father gave up on my mother was practically unbearable. Is your child a girl? If so, you have to be careful about the fact that often a girl will identify her own self-worth with how her father treats her mother. Yes, you may need to give your child extra attention and shielding when her mother is on her low-swing, but please don’t divorce your wife because you think that is best for your child. When my mother was on a rampage, I felt at peace inside only when my dad was in the house or I knew he’d understand and comfort me afterwards. Unfortunately, he was rarely there for me and never stood up for me because he was afraid of making things worse between him and my mom.

As I grew, I understood more and more that what my mother had was an illness. I knew that she tried to love me as best she could. What I still can’t understand is why my father wasn’t there for me and why he abandoned the woman he promised to love forever, in sickness and in health. I struggled for years to overcome the belief that if I am not a good enough wife, my husband will leave me someday. And to this day, I am unable to be truly close to my dad (who I lived with after the divorce), though I am able to be much closer to my mom.

Love is a choice like the others said and it’s actions not feelings. Second, do not consider divorce. If your wife is hurtful to the children please consider a separation and get he in a treatment program. And pray for her! Do the divine mercy chapped at 3:00 every day. Its the hour of mercy and if it’s in Gods will, God will help you both. Give your suffering to ease the suffering of the souls in purgatory. This is your vocation. God wants it to work out in the end. St. Rita prayed for her husband for years and years and he finally came around. And look at Saint Augustuns mother! So prayer will work eventually. He hears you.

Sorry that was supposed to say divine mercy chaplet

Oh and also have masses said for the healing of your wifes family tree. She sounds like she has suffered a great deal.

A very important post. Thank you for sharing. I hope the OP read this.

Well God guided you to CAF. So your prayer’s were answerd. I’m not good in giving advise, so I’ll be praying for you, that I know how to do very good.

Peace be with you, Happy Easter

jesus g

thanks for all of the great advice. yes, my wife is mentally and physically ill. yes, she has been to see many psychiatrists, pain specialists, etc over the span of many years. my wife has cut my family out of our lives. i come from a big catholic family. my daughter has about 15 first cousins on my side of the family. they no longer want anything to do with us because they are afraid of my wife. and today, she has gone off on our neighbors on our email chain (about a hundred email addresses on it). if you were the neighbor of the individual that wrote you this below, would you want anything to do with them? i don’t know half the people on the list. i’m a bit concerned for my daughter now. at what point is it enough?

If I’m on walk and my daughter gets attacked by anyone’s dog, rest assured that the dog will not make it back home alive. I always walk with a knife. I don’t mind getting mauled for my daughter in order to put down an aggressive animal. You have MAJOR issues if you say that anyone not breaking into your freakin home “deserves” to get bit. I certainly hope that homeowner was not removed from this list, as she requested. I don’t care if you’ve lived in the neighborhood when just cows lived near you (my parents owned their land when they had NO neighbors, only cows, and they don’t whine like some of you do), it is NOT your right. I can walk with my gun down your “private road” if you like…

If my child got attacked by a dog that wasn’t kept on a leash by its owners, I’d probably kill the dog too.

You sound like you are in a rough situation…and your family’s fear of your wife must be very hard for you. Please remember, though, what you stood before God and vowed to do on the day you married her. That vow doesn’t disappear when things get really tough. You have the opportunity to be a man of great calibur, to lay down your life for your wife as Christ did for His bride, the Church. Just because your family won’t have anything to do for her, it doesn’t mean you should follow suit. They didn’t vow to love her and stand by her side all the days of their lives. Christ said a man leaves his mother and father to cleave to his wife.

If she does become dangerous to your daugher’s safety, then, by all means, separate so you can keep your daughter safe. But show your daughter that you really did do it for her sake, and not just for your desire to be rid of a difficult situation. Even if you must civilly divorce, for custody reasons, don’t marry again or date someone else… Continue to support your wife (in the eyes of God). Then your daugher will see what a great man you are, and that you acted out of love for her, and not selfishness. And pray, pray, pray for your wife, and try to help her in any way you can.

You have a very great and potentially selfless decision to make. Only you can decide to rise to be the man, husband, and father God has called you to be.

You have my prayers.

Sounds like your wife loves her daughter.

That’s what I was thinking.:yup:

Ditto :slight_smile: That is not the most eloquent email, but I am pretty Mama Bear myself! I would wrestle a bear for my daughter, and would tell anyone who was willing to listen (or be bombed by a mass email)

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