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Bipolar and Divorce - Destruction Of A Family

Updated on March 15, 2010

My phone rang last week. I looked at the caller ID and see it is my ex wife's number calling. It's 8:45 pm. It's also my birthday. I say to myself, I say,..... self? <<<Don't you love that one? Anyway I think to myself. "Should I answer it?" So many times when my ex calls it's a hassle. I could never do anything right during the marriage. Why should divorce be any different? Then again I thought to myself. Maybe it's my young son calling to wish me a happy birthday. As the divorce process was carried out my mind would often race. So many problems with no clear solutions. Even now after more than a year of being divorced my mind races on occasion. One phone call and my mind is active with all these thoughts and the phone has not even rung 3 times yet.

I pick up the phone, half expecting to hear the little boy's voice that I love to hear. "Hello"? It's my ex. Her response is basically unintelligible. I repeat, "hello?" Now she begins to speak. Her speech is interrupted by sobs. I still can't tell what the phone call is about but once again my mind is racing. Did something happen to one of the kids? Did something happen to someone in her family? "Are you crying?" I ask. "Jarett just came gave me a drawing he did in school" she starts. "It's a Valentines present for me". I continue to listen. "He drew a picture of us". At this point I ask "You mean of you and me?" Yes, she says. "He drew a picture of a house and in front of the house are you and me and the two kids". She is outright sobbing now. "He also drew himself crying in the picture, and he is asking me why we broke up?". I didn't know what she wanted me to say. Again my mind is racing. Is this a phone call to try to reconcile the break up. I fought divorce as hard as I could for almost a year. I knew these kind of experiences would occur. I did not want to destroy our family even though I had learned that my wife of 12 years had been cheating on me. It was me who recommended counseling. It was me who worked to try to change. It was me who could not eat or sleep for months and lost 30 pounds so quickly.

"It's killing me", she's sobbing uncontrollably now. "Do you want me to send the picture to your house?" I thought, sure I'd like to see it. Then she adds "If you're going to just throw it away then I will keep it". There's the kicker for me. She acts as if I am cold and detached. I have saved the school work in boxes in the boys rooms since she moved out. Why does she have to throw lines like that in there? "No, you go ahead and keep it?" Remember, this is my birthday. I was expecting maybe a call from a young boy saying Happy Birthday Daddy in the sweet little voice of a child. Instead I am now thinking is she trying to tell me that she wants to get back together as a family?

As I fought divorce I was treated like shit. My wife would go out with her girlfriends. I didn't bother to find out who she was meeting in the bars she would go to. I wanted to. I was filing for divorce on the grounds of adultery. She admitted to the affair after denying it for months. Even after she finally came clean I looked at what we had accomplished. Bill and Hillary made it through his pecadillos. Why can't I give it a shot? My ex answered the question for me though. "We can not stay together, you'll never get over this". Knowing that she had cheated on me hurt. Now hearing her tell me that his meant the end of our marriage and the destruction of our family without my having a say hurt probably as much as her infidelity.

It was months before I eventually filed for divorce. I stood in the bedroom one morning and told her that I thought she was seeing someone. I could tell from the way she would kiss me goodbye in the morning. It wasn't a kiss anymore. She would actually turn her cheek to me. "Why don't you kiss me anymore?" She told me it was because she had morning breath. I kissed her morning breath for 15 years. I'd leave for work wondering why she couldn't kiss me back anymore in the morning.

After learning of the affair I started reading about the effects of divorce on children. I learned that my youngest son was in the age group that would be most affected by the breakup of a family. Studies have shown that boys between the ages of four and six tend to take the divorce harder than all other age groups. This is why he drew the picture of the family and his tears. I also learned as I went to counseling that eventually the kids would learn the truth about why the marriage ended. I wanted to scream at the boys "your mother cheated on me", but I knew that was not what I would do. Instead I continued to act like we were still a family only now we were a bit smaller. I'd cook them nice dinners and make sure their rooms were clean and we'd go fishing and do things together. Still I watched as my older boy's friends distanced themselves from him. "Your mother is a whore", my son had come home crying one day asking why the boys up the street had said that to him. I don't know how they found out about her affair. I still don't talk about it to people in the neighborhood. As time went by my older boy's grades dropped dramatically. I read that this was a distinct possibility. The events of the last year were traumatic for all of us. I asked my wife, "Do you ever think about the consequences of divorce on the boys?" "They'll be fine." She would say it coldly. "Kids adapt, my parents divorced and I am okay" she would add. I wanted her to read some of the things I was reading. "I don't have time to read" she would reply. Instead she was going out with friends to bars and meeting men. I know she was meeting men because she would not get home till 3 am and sometimes later. Nothing good ever happens after 2 am.

I listened to her cry on the phone. "I am sorry that you are upset" I told her. "I didn't want to get divorced" I couldn't help myself in saying it. "It's killing me" she said again. "Why don't you keep the picture?" I repsonded. "He comes home with pictures like that for me on occasion too" I added. I put them in the box in his room. The one that contains all the other little things a young boy makes in school.

I had fought divorce with everything I had. I even had to ask my wife to get counseling or maybe even address the issue that her Mother was diagnosed with Bipolar and that is was hereditary. My wife had shown signs of depression for almost 10 years. She was on depression medication when she had her affair. She went to counseling and told her counselor that I was the source of all her depression. I know I am not perfect but in reality I came almost every day with a smile on my face and a dog and a toddler greeting me at the door. I would seek my wife out in an effort to give her an "I'm home hug". She would never greet me at the door. Instead I would find her on the computer, or laying in bed. The house a mess. The laundry all over the boys rooms. No supper. She'd have already started drinking.

I think of those things now. I know my son would love to see his Mom and I back together again. I was treated like shit for over a year. I can finally say I am happier now. I was devastated at the thought of divorce. Now I look back and think to myself, I never focused on my own happiness. I went to work each and every day and then came home to be the best husband and Dad I could be. I know there was stress in our marriage and in our family life. I always thought as the boys got older some of the stress would ease.

Now I live with my two boys in the marital home. I fought like hell to keep it after my ex moved out. I look forward to my new life and enjoy my independence on the days the boys are with their Mom. I hope someday my ex stops blaming me for all the depression in her life. Her blame continues towards me. I could never go back to the lack of appreciation and the fact that she threw everything away for her own self indulgence. Some of her self indulgent behavior is mention in some of the other hubs I have written here.

I write these hubs for myself and for others who are going through the process of divorce. Writing for me is therapeutic and I hope others see that although divorce is devastating it does get better. It may take years. It may take counseling, but eventually time heals the wounds and life does get better. For a while I would actually wake up and see the sunshine and think "it's almost monononous, another day, another fight." This feeling has passed. There are still fights but I am winning them now.


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      BD13 4 years ago

      MY Story is identical, just change the 2 boys to my 2 girls, and you have it in a nutshell, thanks for sharing, i shall hold onto the hope and your story with the mindset that things will get better after this divorce.

      If you don't mind me asking, how old are the boys,then and now, and have they been to counselors?

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      MJMM 4 years ago

      Taka - I know your post was awhile ago, but it is so similar to my situation. Exceptions - my soon to be ex husband is bi-polar, and in addition to endless financial issues ( not paying his bills, not contributing to family expenses, regularly racking up tens of thousands in debt, over drafting on his bank account, secretly liquidating his 401k) he is also an alcoholic and has a history of secret illegal drug use. He has not been in treatment or taken meds since right before he proposed. (I had reservations about marriage because of his illness - somehow he managed to convince me that he was fine and the the diagnosis was something orchestrated by his parents because they could not face the reality that he was not more successful) Anyway, fast forward.... After 2 times I started the divorce process and then stopped to give him another chance, I finally put my

      foot down and filed in December. At first, he was very calm. Like you I did hear from him that there was nothing he could to do to restore the damage he had done and was crushed that he didn't want to try to turn things around. But if something is important to someone, they will find a way, if not, they will find an excuse. That's all I ever got for years - excuses. It took me a long time to realize that he wasn't making mistakes, but that his patterns were the way he led his life.

      Now almost 8 months in what had started out as an amicable divorce ( he admitted to all issues) where we agreed on all terms of the settlement/custody arrangements, the situation has spiraled into an all out war over the past 2 months. He makes proposals, I agree, then he backs out. He has threatened to take everything financial from me if I don't give in to whatever he wants regarding the children. He has limited parenting time and no overnight visits because although he claims to be clean and sober, he refuses to get tested. He is constantly changing his parenting time schedule with little or no notice. The divorce is getting uglier. I am running out of funds to keep fighting him. His wealthy parents are paying all his legal fees. He has not paid any child support and claims he cannot afford to live. His budget is almost the same as mine and he doesn't pay a mortgage, daycare or anything for the kids and makes a decent salary.

      I wish I knew how to deal with him so I could finally be divorced from him without a costly trial, but there is no getting through to him. He either ignores me or is nasty. Almost all communication is routed through lawyers since he has acted in bad faith so many times. Ugh! Hoping someone has some tips...

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      fixxxer 5 years ago

      Your story is basically my life with my wife. I think divorce is becoming a soon reality and its not fair my kids will suffer and ill have to pay support. Shes the one who refuses to change or seek help. Ive had about 10 years worth of her "episodes".

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      em754 5 years ago

      I have had 26 years with my Bi-Polar wife. Finally we are calling it a day.

      Around 12 months ago my eldest son and I were concerned that she was starting to become unwell, so we contacted her social worker and asked him to review her meds. She went ballistic, accusing me of trying to lock her up. Since then life has been unbearable, I have been accused of violence and blamed for all her admissions. I have spent two days in court so far fighting the false allegations, fortunately have three supportive sons.

      I have been through many episodes with my wife, and I would like to think I have been as supportive as anyone could be. My wife has asked for divorce, I believe she is having another of her flings with another man, as has happened on a few other occasions. This time I will bow out, the stress has been worse than any other time.

      I still love my wife, and we have had many wonderful times together, but this time the illness has taken it's toll.

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      Taka 6 years ago

      Wow - that story was almost an exact mirror of myself - if you replace the adultery/affair cheating with cheating related to financials and health.

      I fought the last half of my marriage against divorce. I come from an Asian culture where 1. divorce is rare and 2. divorce is embarrassing to the family (which itself is the worst thing to do in our culture - to embarrass or disrespect the family). One the last few conversations I had with my wife was "I'm not religious, but I somehow feel like it is my life-responsibility to do everything I can to stick together and work through our problems to help you." Unfortunately, as one commenter stated, even with a bipolar spouse, the effort has to be a two-way street. She recognized/admitted to be bipolar. She recognized her problems (we would talk about them in length) and she would write them down on paper (she was much better at spilling her emotions on her own notebooks and friends than with me, her spouse) - but I just could not get her to figure out how to control her manic behavior.

      Near the end of our decision to get divorced, I had suggested marriage counseling, and even requested that I go to her psychologist session a few times to try to understand bipolar disorder better.

      Unfortunately, a few things contributed to the eventual (quick) collapse: 1. Her telling me that she could never win my trust back (the last 6-8 months of our marriage, I had literally lost 100% of my trust towards her - her manic behavior just would not stop and kept on repeating over the years) - I expected a "Yes, I'm going to do everything I can" to my question of "Do you think you will ever win my trust back?" - isn't that what spouses are supposed to do? 2. Her diagnosis from a psychologist that she was bipolar happened in the last year of our marriage - I definitely wished I had learned this sooner - but I was already extremely emotionally exhausted to a point where I had to request anxiety medicine from my doctor a year ago. 3. Her request to start seeing a psychologist only a few years before our divorce - as she told me she used to see one when she was younger (somehow I did not know this before getting married) - to which I had no problems, since as a spouse, my job was to support anything that would help her with her problems. And 4. her coming from a divorced family - statistics show that having divorced parents make the divorce option very easy because "(she) turned out normal" (same comment as your ex-wife). For me, divorce was never in my mind - but every time I would catch her "issues" (hidden financial spendings/accounts, unpaid bills, collections letters, and unhealthy eating habits that my children see) throughout the years, she would quickly jump to divorce as the option (similar to your ex-wife) so that "I wouldn't have to deal with it." That would throw me back, baffled, thinking that's a bit extreme and a silly way to escape the actual problem that really needs to be figured out.

      After our decision to get divorced, I was quite angry - for all that I put in to our marriage. I was also extremely confused as to why she would want a divorce - it seemed extremely disadvantageous to her as I felt like I was, for the large part, adding stability to her (a friend called it "a straitjacket - which everyone needs in life - with varying levels of looseness"). But for a few nights, I sat down and did a lot of research on bipolar disorders. People with it, and people who have dealt with it (being married to one, or knowing others) - and my surprise was that irresponsible financial spending, as opposed to drugs or alcohol, was also a bipolar manic symptom, although less common. I have learned a lot about bipolar since then, and my emotions have moved onto acceptance, away from anger. Her behavior makes a lot of sense, if you believe bipolar disorder as a disease (I do, but many others do not).

      It's quite sad - we've only been divorced and separated for a little over 2 months and I already see that she's back to her old ways, but without a straitjacket on - it's not being controlled at all (I go over to her place quite often since she has the kids). I already see bills, collections letters - and even the mess, but this time, junk foods and cans of soda absolutely everywhere scattered throughout the house. It's quite scary, actually - and that is the primary worry I have that continually runs through my head - that my kids are learning bad habits from her (financial irresponsibility and unhealthy eating habits).

      Some things I learned right before getting divorced - She secretly blamed her last job loss to me (the "emotionally abusive" husband), agrees with friends/family that I unfairly spend money on myself (absolutely baffling thought if you knew me - I'm incredibly frugal and put a lot of effort into retirement, both for her and myself, and college education savings for our kids), told a stranger she was saving money for a divorce attorney by couponing (which I was always supportive of because she was/is amazing at it), and even had a PO Box to have postal mail secretly forwarded - most likely to hide the credit cards and collections letters.

      The saddest part is - take the manic/depressive behavior out - and we were incredibly compatible. Unfortunately, my emotional stress/anxiety and health had to be given some priority - even for the sake of our own children. I just hope she can figure the bipolar issues out - whether with her friends, family, or even with another mate/spouse who can support her - since I was obviously unable to be of any help.

      And like you, it's not like I am running around celebrating/bragging that I am divorced. Honestly, I'm quite embarrassed - even though my stress/anxiety levels are significantly better than living with her.

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      Dewey Cheatem 6 years ago

      Thank you for taking the time to read my hub Lin M. I appreciate the comment too.

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      lin m. 6 years ago

      divorce is, unfortunately, one of those things that many people have to go through. It can strengthen ones self worth or it can sounds like you have become stronger and wiser in many ways...your kids are lucky to have such a wonderful caring Dad...and they will realize that as they get older...and so will YOU!!!!!

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      Robert in Toronto 6 years ago

      I wasted 26 years of my life on a simulated human being who had no capacity for genuine emotion or truth. She now persists with perpetual attempts at Parental Alienation which is fine because my kids are older & I was a stay at home Dad. All she is accomplishing is solidifying the truth with them. That is my wish, In a few years they will leave her custody to never ever return. Then that woman can then be left alone for the rest of her miserable life. Maybe she will start hording roaches to live in her OCD mess.

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      Dewey Cheatem 7 years ago

      Thank you for the comment Suffering Dad. I hope that going for a full psychological evaluation helps your family.

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      Suffering Dad 7 years ago

      I have been married for 21 years to a woman who has shown signs of being bipolar since day one. We have fought over her moods, I have been on the brink of bankruptcy four times now. I have asked her to go to a psychologist to be tested and they came back with a diagnosis of Learning Disorders. She began going to a counselor to learn coping skills for her LD but her moods swings were getting in the way of any progress. Finally her counselor told her today that she cannot be of any help until she gets a complete psychological evaluation for bipolar. She agreed to do it. I hope that it helps us progress. There is no romantic love in our marriage but for the welfare of the kids I have decided to stay committed in this relationship. We see the psychologist this week to begin the process of finding out what our next step is.

      This is very, very difficult to deal with. I am glad to see other people out there who are going through the same thing who are willing to open up and share their experiences. I don't feel so alone now.

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      bb 7 years ago

      im glad now its finally over, i always thought i d give him one more chance, and that was everytime. now that he is gone and remarried i have only one thought. i pity her because she knows not yet, and when she realizes it, she will be stronger than me and run.

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      Bipolar Beata 7 years ago

      I have to say this sounds exactly like my wife. I filed for divorce about a month after she left to go "find herself". She was later diagnosed with bipolar, but it feels like such a cop-out. She still blames me for everything wrong in her life and says I cause her manic episodes. BS! I'm glad my kids aren't subjected to her crap anymore.

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      Dewey Cheatem 8 years ago

      Thank you for your comment Kaie. The kids do ask questions. The only thing I tell them is that both their parents love them very much. Sometimes my youngest son does not want to leave my home to go with his Mom. This was another situation that was addressed in some of the things I read. What I say when doesn't want to go is that his Mom loves him and misses him. He cries. She actually has said to him "why do you hate me so much?". It would be nice if I could try to get her to understand that when she is taking him to her house, he is leaving the one place of stability that he's had over the last 2 years. The home where his friends are.

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      Kaie Arwen 8 years ago

      It is a happier place, yes? I'm glad you are finally able to say it; I said it the day I walked away.......... every day was happier no matter what surprises they held. Every day is a happy one!

      Your children are young.......... that's both a blessing and something that makes things more difficult. My children experienced everything, and I will always be sorry that they had to experience the things they did, but then again, they understand. You have the double edged sword; you have the chance to keep them innocent.................. or not. Keep them innocent, and keep writing. Writing gives you the chance to say the things you'd never say out loud, and when you're done............ they're really nothing but words on a page.

      I wish you the best.......... thank you for sharing!

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      Dewey Cheatem 8 years ago

      I had gotten that advice from counseling. One person cannot make a relationship work. That is great advice. I appreciate your comment Linda S. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on this hub.

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      Linda S. 8 years ago

      One person cannot make a relationship work, be it marrage or not. If the other person is not actively working to grow the relationship it is almost doomed. When you throw in infidelity and depression it's even harder. Some get through and recommit, many do not. It is always very sad when there are children involved, as adults we hurt, but it is hard for children to understand. It sounds like you nurture your children and tend to their emotional needs and that gets them through. Seeing them enjoying life and smiling helps you to push on with some sense of relief as well. So sorry for your heartache and pain. Today is a new day and always a blessing waiting around the corner. Thank you for sharing. God bless!

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      Dewey Cheatem 8 years ago

      I do have one thing that I feel is positive. After losing so much weight I got motivated to keep in shape. Amazing what physical exercise can do to the brain. Thank you for taking the time to read my hub and the comment Lovelypaper.

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      Renee S 8 years ago from Virginia

      I'm glad you're able to move on. Divorce is devastating for everyone involved, especially the children. Best wishes to you.