I’m not certain if your wife has bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder. I suspect it is the latter but I’m not sure.
I would recommend consulting a family therapist or a couples therapist. In either case, the therapist could gather in-depth information about your relationship and advise you about how to approach your wife. An ultimatum might be the right choice but without more information about your situation it is difficult to provide specific advice.
As you have suspected there may be a need for a temporary separation. It would give you time to think more deeply about what to do. It would also give you time to consult a mental health professional.
Ultimatums can be tricky. On the one hand, giving her an ultimatum might send her the message that you are serious about her getting help and doing what she needs to control her behavior. On the other hand, it might inflame the situation. An ultimatum forces a change which may or may not be for the better.
If her behavior is out of control, one possible solution is to call the local mental health crisis team. Most communities have a mental health crisis team. These teams come to the home and evaluate an individual in crisis. The advantage of the mobile crisis team is that they can provide on-site assistance and referrals to the proper treatment. They can also provide immediate support to the family.
Involving a mental health crisis team may or may not be helpful but it is an option of which you should be aware.
Is your wife seeing a therapist? If so, you can report what is happening with your wife to the therapist and that you are considering an ultimatum. The therapist may not legally be able to return your calls and speak about your wife’s case but at least he or she will be informed about what is happening.
I understand your frustration and concern and I hope that you will consult a mental health professional. Therapy would also likely benefit your children during this difficult time. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle
Mental Health & Criminal Justice Blog