A: Thanks for writing in with your question. Living with someone with mental illness can certainly be difficult and comes with its own set of challenges. Have you attended any support groups, such as ones connected with National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)? This may be helpful for you no matter what you decide to do about your marriage.
There are several things that concern me in what you have said. I believe that everyone has a right to privacy and their treatment should be their own, but it concerns me that your husband doesn’t want you involved at all and does not understand how his illnesses could impact your life. He is either very naïve or has something to hide.
Furthermore, you have stated that he is not invested in his own counseling, dismisses advice from your counselor and refuses to speak in couples counseling. It appears to me that he is either in denial of the marital problems or doesn’t care enough to try to fix them. Either way, if you don’t put your foot down, things will continue on this path.
My advice would be to have several consultations with divorce attorneys, especially considering the international issues that might apply, so that you know more fully where you stand legally. In the meantime, if you are up for it, I’d approach him one more time and ask him to attend couples therapy with you. Sometimes an ultimatum is necessary, such as, “I’ve been in touch with an attorney and I am prepared to leave you but would like to give marital therapy one more try.” It might be helpful to allow him to pick the counselor so he feels he has some control in the process.
If he once again refuses to go with you or does not follow through consistently, you have nothing to feel guilty about. You wouldn’t be leaving because of his illness; you would be leaving because he is unwilling to work on the marriage. And honestly, based on what you have said here, I’m not even sure you owe him one more try. I hope it all works out for you no matter what you choose.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts