Mental Illness and Marriage

by Dr. Lorin Bradbury

Question: Several weeks ago, I sent you a question on whether Multiple Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder are the same. Thanks for clarification. There was a reason for my asking that question. I have two people close to me with those diagnoses who are living together and are thinking of getting married. Do you believe it is a good idea for someone with a Personality Disorder to marry someone with Bipolar Disorder?

Answer: Interesting! I’ve always avoided being a matchmaker. So, I am not sure just how to respond. One of the things I have learned is that trying to run interference to stop a couple from marrying is rarely, and maybe never, successful. The only thing I can almost guarantee is that you lose influence in their lives when you try to interfere.

It is a very normal human behavior to seek out people with whom you can comfortably relate, and often times people with a mental illness find another person with a mental illness because they relate to one another’s illness. Also, they often meet while in treatment or in some type of residential setting.

Now back to your question as to whether it is a good idea for two people, one with a personality disorder and the other with a major mental illness, to marry. On the one hand, I want to say, “No,” but that would contradict what I have said up to this point. Probably the most accurate predication is that the relationship is likely to be bumpy and there may be times in which there are real fire storms. However, probably the best thing you can do is to be supportive and try to direct them to the most appropriate treatment.

Lorin L. Bradbury, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Bethel. For appointments, he can be reached at 543-3266. If you have questions that you would like Dr. Bradbury to answer in the Delta Discovery, please send them to The Delta Discovery, P.O. Box 1028, Bethel, AK 99559, or e-mail them to [email protected].

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