There are many things that marriage should be. The connection and bond should be one of trust, intimacy, respect. The bond in marriage should be built on communication, gratitude, forgiveness and teamwork. Your spouse should always be your FIRST and BEST supporter. No matter if one, or both, within a marriage has a diagnosed mental illness or not, showing support for the other’s mental health is an important way to be their greatest supporter. To be the one that is always behind your spouse, respecting their needs and wants, and helping them remain the healthiest they can be.
Dealing with mental illness can be extremely overwhelming for both. How should you as the spouse help support your partner’s mental health?
Listen to your spouse and give them freedom to share what they need to without judgment.
For anyone with a mental illness, or really anyone without a mental illness, it’s important to be able to discuss with your spouse concerns you may have. Anxieties, fears, angers, it’s important to listen to the other without judgment. Discussing your mental health, thoughts, fears, and getting things off your chest is important. At times your spouse, is the best person to have this open communication with. It’s also important to know when your spouse needs to communicate to a third party. There may be times that what they say or feel may be harsh on your own mental health. Understand your limits.
Do not be an enabler.
It’s important to be supportive of your spouse, their mental health and the limitations that mental illness may cause your spouse. However, it’s also very important to not be an enabler. Realize you cannot and should not try to change your spouse but often times helping them can be hard and you may have to push through resistance. The easy way out is not always the healthiest for you or your spouse. Encourage them in ways that is to better their health.
Do not try to fix your spouse.
Do not try to fix your spouse. You cannot cure their mental illness. You can, however, help them remain healthy. That may mean encouraging them to get outside help, take meds, take breaks, and helping them to realize their own limitations.
Know their limitations.
Knowing and understanding your spouse’s limitations is important in supporting their mental health. Pushing them for more can be good for their health but it’s possible to push too hard and become more a hinderance.
Remember it’s not personal.
It’s often the case that the feelings and emotions that your spouse shares may be hard on you. It can be hard to not take things personally. Do what you can to remind yourself that it’s not personal.
It’s important to keep communication open. Both you and your spouse need to be able to talk, share, and let out their feelings and emotions. Show respect for their concerns and anxieties and demand respect for your own.
Be empathetic towards your spouse in their struggles. This can be hard, some days may be tough, however it’s important to remain empathetic. Statements like “calm down,” “Try harder,” “just get up,” can push your spouse into a deeper state of unrest. Empathy can help calm the other’s spirits. Feeling understood, supported and respected is an important step to strength.
Give your spouse validation. Simple words such as “I understand you’re feeling….” can help your spouse to not feel irrational.
Encourage your spouse to find help when they need it.
You cannot be everything your spouse needs. You should not want to me. It’s good for each of you to have your own lives, your own friends, your own interests. This is also true when it comes to supporting each other’s mental health. You may not be enough for your spouse to remain mentally healthy. Encourage your spouse when needed to seek outside help.
How do you support your spouse’s mental health? How do you feel your spouse can support yours?