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Is My Son-In-Law Correct in How He Treats His Bipolar Wife?

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Q. My daughter was recently diagnosed with bipolar disease and her husband (I live with them in order to cost-share rent and utilities) allows her to get her own way with everything. He says yes dear and whatever you want dear to her with everything. The rest of the family, including myself, wants her to be accountable to herself and her marriage with him, but we feel that by him being such an enabler is keeping her from having any self-worth or self-esteem because she is not expected to do anything around the house, none of the chores, not go to work, and if she does mention any sort of a goal, he does it for her. He waits on her hand and foot, and says it’s to avoid any sort of a flare or temper-tantrum on her part. She accuses him of being stupid and having an attitude with her if he goes against anything she says or does or wants. If I tell her she is being unreasonable with her requests of him, she yells back at me, then really gives him holy heck for it as well, so that makes him upset with me for starting anything in the first place.

The rest of the family does not come around anymore because of her flare ups and jealousies and issues that she creates about anything and everything. They agree that he is an enabler and it is causing more distance between our daughter and the rest of the family. He usually gives her her medication and tells her when it is time to take her medication, but she sleeps nearly all day long and has trouble sleeping at night. She told me one day that she had to take three Trazadones one night just to sleep. I am fully concerned about him dishing out so much medication to her, and think that maybe he wants her to sleep a lot in order to avoid any confrontation with her, but it is taking away any quality of life that she might otherwise have.

Please let me know if I am wrong with this attitude that I have towards him. He is such a dear son in law, and we all love him very much and are thankful that she has him, however, living with them has given me an opportunity to see a different side to him and just how much of an enabler he is to her. We do know that they love each other very much, but I just feel like he has some serious issues with confrontation, and that it probably stems from his abusive childhood. Please let me know if I am wrong and if I need to step aside and let them live their lives without my interference, but at this point, I just don’t feel like that will give us back our daughter.

Is My Son-In-Law Correct in How He Treats His Bipolar Wife?

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Based on your description of the situation, your feelings regarding your son-in-law and his wife do seem justifiable. It does seem that he is catering to her to avoid a confrontation. It does work for him maybe because he believes that giving into her does serve to stop her from complaining (although you mentioned that she does still complain). If one took this approach to raising a child, he or she would risk spoiling the child and fostering an indelible sense of entitlement. The child might come to expect a certain level of treatment and cry or whine when their expectations were not fulfilled. The fact that other family members do not want to come around further indicates that there is a problem occurring that may be linked to her behavior.

Since you are in a tough financial situation, and cannot afford to leave their house, there is probably little you can do to affect the situation. Until you can afford a place of your own, you probably are going to have to tolerate their relationship. I suspect that if you told him how you feel, he may be offended and so it’s probably better not to bring this to his attention. Hopefully, you can move into your own residence soon and then you will not have to deal with it on a day-to-day basis. I hope this answers your question. Take care.

Is My Son-In-Law Correct in How He Treats His Bipolar Wife?

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Is My Son-In-Law Correct in How He Treats His Bipolar Wife?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 21, 2019, from
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Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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