Divorce is a highly stressful and emotional time for California couples no matter what. When you are divorcing a spouse with a mental illness, your situation becomes even more difficult.
You’ve already lived with your mentally ill spouse, so you know how they react to challenging situations. Knowing you must go through the divorce process can cause you feelings of helplessness, fear and emotional turmoil.
One of the most complex aspects of any divorce is having to make practical, common-sense decisions on things like property division and finances, while trying to process your emotions in healthy ways.
Dealing with the guilt
If you are the one who filed for divorce, you may experience deep feelings of guilt. Chances are your spouse’s mental illness was a factor in your decision to divorce.
Living with someone with mental illness often means unpredictable, chaotic and sometimes even dangerous or violent situations. You may have concerns that their behavior will escalate, causing them to harm themselves, you or others.
Worrying over how your spouse will cope with your decision to divorce is understandable, but ultimately, you must make the decision that is in your best interest.
Worrying about what could happen
Another challenge of living with someone with mental illness is the urge or desire to help or “fix” them.” You may agonize over what their future holds without you there to help them.
In the alternative, you may envision a scenario where they get better, and you are not there anymore. This can cause you to fear that divorcing them is not the right decision.
Ultimately, you cannot control your spouse’s behavior or actions. Many times, a divorce helps both spouses.
Be mindful of their feelings as well
The situation is usually just as hard for the spouse with mental illness and setting them free can be one of the best things you do for them.
Once you decide to divorce, stick to it. Do not let feelings of guilt or fear keep you from taking the necessary steps to help you both have a healthier future.