His mother and I don’t get along although I tried many times in the past (before we married), but my efforts were always thwarted by her drug addiction and her inability to stay on medication (she, too, is bipolar). My husband is also in recovery (eight years clean and sober – he got into rehab after we met) and I often worry that he might slip when he’s with her. My husband planned on living apart from me until he got himself sorted out with medication and therapy, and under a doctor’s advice it was best that we didn’t share a living space because the stress he was causing me was enough to hospitalize me.
He has been away less than a week. We were talking every day and things were looking up. I felt like he was on the path back to becoming the person whom I love. But yesterday, out of the blue, he called and said that he didn’t want to come back. He said that he wanted to start over, and when I asked why, his answer was that I was greedy for not wanting to sell my house (I suspect he wants me to sell to get him out of debt for overspending during his mania) and the town I live in makes him depressed. The only thing that would make him happy, according to him, is for me to sell and move into his mother’s apartment, or for us to separate.
His new plan to start his life over is to quit his cushiony, well-paying job here, live with his mother, and have her new boyfriend (they’ve been together for three weeks) get him a job at the local mine. I have serious doubts that he will get that job – or that he will even enjoy manual labor. I feel that his mother might have even influenced him to think that the diagnosis is wrong.
My head is swimming. I am heavily pregnant and I was so excited for the future. I had thought this was a bump in the road and with time, therapy, and medication we would get through this. But now he feels that his happiness is hinging on his living with his mother. I feel like the carpet has been ripped out from under me. Just the other day we were talking like everything was normal and making plans for him to come to the next ultrasound.
He still wants to be involved with the baby, but now I am scared about what sort of influence he and his mother will be on the child. What should I do? If he finally comes to his senses, should I accept him back? Or should I try to untangle my life from his, knowing that he might not follow through with his treatment or might even be swayed by his mother in the future? I tried to appease him by offering to sell my house and move to another town with him, but he firmly wants to live with his mother. -Pregnant and Heartbroken
I’m so sorry for what you’re going through; please don’t sell your house. Your house is a point of security and stability for you – at a time when you really need both. Make it absolutely clear that you and your baby will be living in your house, period. DO NOT MOVE IN WITH YOUR HUSBAND’S MOTHER!! Doing so will be surrendering, and there’s no reason for you to surrender. Instead, focus on yourself and your baby-to-be, learning to be a great single parent to your child because you cannot count on your husband to be emotionally and physically present on a consistent basis (or at all). This is the time now to rely on whatever support system you have in place – friends, family, etc. Make sure at least a couple close loved ones know the details of what’s happening and can be there for you as you adjust to motherhood.
Let your husband continue with his plan of living with his mother until he is “sorted out with medication and therapy.” The “getting sorted out” part is likely not going to be smooth. The turbulence you’re experiencing with him is part of the process. He’s in the throes of finding the right combination of treatment that will work with him, and while doing that under his mother’s roof when she sounds so unstable herself maybe isn’t the best place to do it, it sounds like living with you isn’t the best place either. If the stress of living with him led to you being hospitalized already, I’d be very concerned about what would happen if you had to deal with him on top of caring for a newborn.
The reality is that your husband may not again “become the person you love” or be the father you want for you child. Or, he may eventually become so, but only after a turbulent, winding path with various roadblocks he will have to overcome. The best thing you can do is take care of yourself, take care of your baby, and give emotional support and hold a space for him as long as it seems a reasonable expectation that he may find a treatment that works and allows him to be a loving, supportive husband again and a good father to your child. If, at some point, you lose faith that that will happen in a manner that is timely enough for you and your child, then divorce is always an option. In the meantime, I would speak with a family attorney about your legal rights and what you need to do now to best protect yourself, your assets, and the health and stability of your baby.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.