Dating someone with a mental illness adds an extra dynamic to a relationship, as any health issue would. Here are some useful tips to keep in mind to help your spouse living with a mental illness.
*Support them in a healthy way. Know that you aren’t there to “fix” your partner or take responsibility for their wellbeing. It’s really about offering patience and empathy at all times.
*Encourage open communication. Ask them personally what do you need from me? There are different ways they want to be loved, just understand what works for them. Also, embracing your partner when they tell you about past struggles will help them feel more confident.
*Give them space. Get distracted with something else. For example, take the kids to the park for a few hours to give them time alone. The quiet time they have can make a huge difference and really limit their anxiety.
*Listen to them. Listen without the intention of “I’m going to make you better”, rather make steps with them together to help them cope through the situation and be supported. Encourage your partner to talk about their mental illness rather then letting it build up inside.
*Reassure them they’re okay. Make your partner feel safe. Let them know your there for them and practice breathing techniques when stressful situations arise.
*Be strong for your partner. Don’t get upset in front of them, do it in private. Call a friend or family member to get you through a tough time.
*Be sensitive to their triggers. If noise sets them off, simply warn your partner before doing anything loud. By knowing their triggers you can easily avoid them.
*Don’t make them feel ashamed for having a mental illness. The most important thing you can do for your partner is to accept them for who they are. Pointing out when you see your partner making progress, can be eye opening to them as well.
*Bring out their passions. Embrace their creativity and the special gifts they have. The more you encourage their passions, the more they will see them for themselves.
*Do your research. Educate yourself about their mental illness, the symptoms, treatment options and how to support them.
Dating someone with mental illness is something that requires you to keep these things in mind to maintain a healthy relationship. But it is even more important that you take care of yourself too. Your partner needs you to be strong and healthy, so make sure you have your own support system as well.
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