First of all, it is important to understand that, in order to identify, in fact, a disorder, the presence of a specialized professional is essential. Only he will be able to provide the correct diagnosis. However, this text can be useful in the sense of describing possible examples of experiences of disorders that may be present in the couple’s life. Thus, through this awareness, you will be able to seek help from a professional so that he can make a diagnosis and propose an appropriate treatment for the possible diagnosed disorder.
The diagnosis itself will often be of no value without a concrete proposal for therapeutic intervention. The main objective of a diagnosis is to find a way out of the problem; therefore, thinking about the issue of disorders, professional help will be of paramount importance. Many tend to read about a disorder and then self-diagnose or immediately point to their spouse as having the disorder. Thus, they identify dysfunctional symptoms and behaviors in the other, proper and expected in that disorder presented in some text. Don’t take that risk! For a correct diagnosis, as highlighted above, a professional with adequate training is needed.
One of the possible roots of conflicts is personal difficulties; in this sense, psychiatric disorders are a situation that one spouse or both may experience and that can promote many conflicts in the couple’s daily relationship.
When we got married, most of the time, we did not imagine that we would live this situation in the relationship; however, disorders can happen, and with them the crisis. It is considered an accidental crisis, that is, unexpected ( understand more in our book ). Many do not have the disorder before marriage, but it can be triggered at some point in their married life. Others already marry knowing that the spouse has the disorder, and are in constant contact with the symptoms of the disorders in the spouse. In both situations, the family may find it difficult to deal with the consequences of these disorders in everyday family life.
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So, what are psychiatric disorders?
These are conditions in which the person experiences intense suffering, experiencing an emotional, mood, cognitive or behavioral problem . These difficulties promote a significant impact on the life of the person with the disorder, as well as family diagnosis and interpersonal relationships. These disorders can cause serious problems in the couple’s experience, as they are together daily and, therefore, experience and live each other’s difficulties.
A mental disorder is a syndrome characterized by a clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotional regulation or behavior that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological or developmental processes underlying mental functioning. Mental disorders are often associated with significant suffering or disability that affect social, professional or other important activities. An expected or culturally approved response to a common stressor or loss, such as the death of a loved one, does not constitute a mental disorder. (dsm 5, 2014, p.20)
Usually, psychiatric disorders have multiple causes. Currently, we know that there are several causative factors, such as genetics , hormonal issues, use of toxic substances or environmental factors. Usually, life experiences are the main triggers of disorders. It is important to note that psychiatric disorders can be treated through medication and / or psychotherapy.
Blame the other
Often, these disorders are not identified, therefore, they are not treated properly, which negatively interferes in the couple’s life . Many couples blame each other for many behaviors, which are actually caused by disorders. And that means that they cannot be blamed for some behaviors, since they are involuntary, that is, they occur through a change, which we call disorders here. Realize that this does not mean that we can rely only on that statement and justify our behavior, positioning ourselves as victims and believing that there is no way out. This would be untrue, as many of these disorders are treatable.
Indeed, many couples experience disorders in their marriage that, in a way, impact their lives. We will present a very common case – you may even know of such a case. A particular wife did not show joy and enthusiasm in life as a whole. She felt a constant emptiness! Life was colorless, there was no energy to wake up every day.
In living with the husband, he interpreted her posture as being lack of love and involvement in married life. However, it was a depressive condition, and this situation experienced by the wife was not dissatisfaction with the marriage itself, but with its existence. Something in your life story may have created an existential void, culminating in depression . See that the family suffers, if they do not understand the situation experienced, causing problems in the interpretation of the situations experienced. However, if she understands that it is a disorder, the struggle will be great, but it will have a name and new directions, even an appropriate treatment.
Examples of cases
Considering the importance of examples, let us see a couple in which the wife complained that the spouse was disorganized, without planning and difficulty in meeting schedules and commitments. She reported that he was agitated and was unable to carry out his projects. The husband behaved impulsively in his business and then communicated his negative results. He did not remember the important dates, nor the messages that were to be passed on.
The wife felt rejected, claiming that he was not attentive to the family. When we submitted this patient to a behavioral and cognitive evaluation, as well as to the opinion of other professionals, a possible Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and an anxiety disorder were identified . He underwent psychotherapy and was medicated, improving his condition.
Thus, there are several situations in which disorders can hinder the marital relationship. Consider, as another example, a husband who complained about his wife who was unable to travel. As soon as they got into the car, she had a series of physical symptoms such as tachycardia, sweating, difficulty breathing, among others.
The wife said she couldn’t see life with a positive eye. For her, everything would end badly: she imagined an accident, the car was out of control, some tragedy; the worst thing is that it would happen in everything he did and in different areas of his life, and so he was unable to take steps to make dreams and projects come true. The whole family suffered from this situation. When seeking help, the woman identified that she had a generalized anxiety condition, which enslaved her and paralyzed her life in all aspects, interfering in her marriage and in the lives of her children . This type of situation requires professional monitoring.
There are many situations experienced by the couple and, consequently, by the whole family, that need to be evaluated and, thus, treated properly. Imagine, still, a wife suffering for years with the irritation of her husband, who went so far as to humiliate her constantly and, soon after, always regretted this behavior.
The relationship became more and more difficult, which, consequently, fostered hurt, distance and, still, a conflictive environment, which influenced the children’s education. The wife reveals that she did not know how the other would behave, and remained in constant vigil, reporting feelings of personal devaluation. Faced with this situation, many do not support and separate. Possibly, this husband may present a disorder called Intermittent Explosive Disorder, which has as a central characteristic a severe chronic irritability, which manifests itself clinically with acts of fury and aggression with later regrets (dsm 5, 2014).
Drug addiction disorder
There are many couples suffering because they do not know what is happening, and they end up experiencing important problems as if they were normal – which, in fact, can be mental disorders, which can and must be treated. Other situations that have brought serious difficulties are chemical dependencies. The addiction is a disorder.
All drugs that are consumed in excess have in common the direct activation of the brain’s reward system, which is involved in the reinforcement of behaviors and the production of memories. (dsm 5, 2014, p.481)
Chemical dependency corresponds to a disorder that, in the family environment, prevents the smooth running of relationships, since substance abuse causes a lack of control over behaviors that are routinely impulsive. The carrier shows a trap in relation to the substance, and his life is always linked to situations to acquire the drug, or even looking for places to coexist for the use of alcohol, for example.
Usually, the family is in the background because the person who is dependent on substances, both alcohol and drugs, in general, withdraws from his life as a whole and from his responsibilities. The financial situation may be compromised due to the patient not being able to have a work routine due to the increasing use of drugs or alcohol.
Finding answers is a couple’s problem
As you can see, finding some answers can help you understand a problem, as well as guide you towards effective treatment. The diagnosis has this purpose: to find answers to discover possible ways out.
Given the reality of the disorders, the most important thing is, precisely, not to lose the value of your marriage and your family, to be open to changes and to have the courage to seek help. Still thinking about the presence of disorders, we always say that the problem is not with the other, but with both. Thus, the exits must be found by the couple themselves. The couple must be together to find a resolution. Blaming your husband or wife for the difficulty is a simple way out of a complex problem, which will certainly not promote marital maturation – it may even cause a separation.
When we have a marriage disorder, it does not mean that he is the problem of the relationship nor that he should seek help alone, while the other will have little to do, since he has no problem. The problem is both! This is being a family ! We must take responsibility for the other. When the carrier is welcomed, he has a reason to fight, because he feels loved. The person experiencing the disorder itself must allow himself to be cared for and, at the same time, invest in his cure.
So it is important that she seek help. Each has its responsibility at that moment; the one who welcomes and cares, and the one who dedicates himself to his treatment. Those who present the disorder must invest in their improvement, seek treatment, do not give up and be persistent. He must be the most interested and therefore be humble, accept help and not shy away from treatment.
Living with a person who has a disorder should not be understood as an unbearable problem, but a challenge that must be overcome in love. So, the most important thing is to seek help and not give up, as there are treatments for many disorders. There are solutions for better coexistence. A path is needed: first, understanding, then the decision and, finally, the search for actions for a change, with a real objective, that of living with the family.
To reflect and dialogue
- Is a spousecurrently experiencing a disorder? Has this disorder been diagnosed by a specialized professional?
- Have you both been striving for improvement? Has the person who has the disorder sought specialized care and been dedicated to treatment? Has the other been responsible, has he been patient, welcoming and caring for your spouse to improve?
- What practical attitude must we take, now, for this disorder to serve for the growth and maturation of the couple, and not for the destruction of the family?