I have a wife who has a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (childhood trauma). She also is bipolar. I don’t mind supporting her as much as I can, but she has a tendency to project onto me. When she has a bad day or has trouble coping, she turns on me and starts blaming me. I have a very hard time dealing with that, when I know I’m doing my best to make things better for her. What can I do? I feel like bailing out at this point.
– Looking for a lifeline
Dear Mr. Lifeline:
I don’t mean any harm, but I project on to my husband also and I have no disorders. I’m more likely to take out my frustrations on Solomon if I’m tired, under stress, unable to watch Downton Abbey or if Nordstrom.com is down! That doesn’t make it right. It is just par for the marital course. Solomon does his share of projecting also! The wonderful thing about family is that they see us at our absolute worst and love us anyway! Loving your spouse and being committed is a choice. As I read your question, a couple of things come to mind. Negative qualities become magnified significantly after we get married. Did you know about your wife’s condition before you got married? Next the vows, “For better or for WORSE….in SICKNESS and in health” come to mind. You vowed, before God and other witnesses, to remain with this person despite the aforementioned conditions. I would recommend a couple of things. First do a self examination to make sure that you are being the best husband that you can be. Although you may not want to admit if, your feelings of “wanting to bail” are negatively influencing your interactions with her. Next, have a heart-to-heart talk when there is no crisis. Explain your frustrations and be honest about your feelings of wanting to file for divorce. Be a good listener during this conversation. Help your wife to sort through her issues. Lastly, I would recommend that the two of you get help from a professional marriage counselor. In addition, your wife’s psychiatric condition requires medication and therapy. Is she under the care of a psychiatrist and therapist? If she is not, you need to help her to get the medical treatment that she needs.