5 Tips for Loving and Supporting Your Spouse’s Mental Health

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#5 of Overcoming Challenges Series

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Today, I welcome Jessica, a mental health blogger, to this space. She will talk to you about 5 tips for loving and supporting your spouse’s mental health.

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This article is not intended, in any way, to represent medical advice. This is about love and support. For medical advice, always contact your physician or call 911 for a medical emergency.

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5 Tips for loving and supporting your spouse's mental health

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We should all learn how to love and support one another’s mental health. Coping with your mental health can be difficult, especially if you do not have support from loved ones so that your needs can be met. 

Despite what some believe to be a burden, it can be beneficial to love and support your spouse’s mental health. It will allow the two of you to grow closer and keep you mindful of your needs to remain healthy too!

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5 Tips For Loving And Supporting Your Spouse’s Mental Health 

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Your illness does not define you.

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Tip 1: Speak Their Love Language

I often use the Love Languages Quiz, by Gary Chapman, to demonstrate to individuals or couples their love languages. It is important to know if your spouse’s needs can be met with physical touch, quality time, gifts, affirmations and/or acts of services. It is often a tough call between two and that is okay!

When you know their love language, you can attune to their needs. For example, my love language is quality time and physical touch-primarily. When I get upset or begin to feel anxious, my husband knows that he does not need to say anything, rather gather me up and help me ride the wave of emotions. 

It creates less stress for you. You will have a skill you can use to help calm or soothe their emotions so that their behaviors follow suit. The disclaimer here is that your actions may be different if your spouse has a severe mental disorder and you should adjust as needed. 

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Couple on bench

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Tip 2: Know Their Illness

As I always say “When you know better, you do better”. It is hard to understand what is happening in your spouse’s mind without researching their disorder or conversing with their mental health professional. 

Learn how to help them choose a therapist that best helps their needs. 

When you do not understand what is happening, it can become frustrating to emotionally support your spouse. To ease the process for you both, I highly encourage self-educating on their mental disorder and joining conversations with their mental health provider. Also know the warning signs for when they need more support than you can offer.

My blog has an abundance of information regarding mood disorders such as Major Depressive Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, etc. There are many other sites that provide an abundance of information based on the disorder of interest. Be sure to ask questions when you do not understand a term or the science behind mental illness!

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Tip 3: Know Their Coping Skills

There are SO many times in a session, I am simply reminding clients of their skills. When life becomes increasingly stressful, we all need a reminder to take a step back, breath and go to our safe place. Coping skills are simply what you do to deal with stressful situations.

I often schedule days off in advance due to knowing when the stress peaks at work, to remind myself to take a break (whether I want to or not lol). Occasionally, the homework I give clients is to take a self-care day or to schedule one a month to conduct the activities I know they need to get back to a place of stability. 

On a day to day basis, this will be your primary job! If your spouse has a Panic Disorder and wants to go to the hospital each time they have a panic attack, you have to be the voice of reason. Panic attacks can be scary, especially when they sneak in on you! In the moment, you have to remind them to take breaths or take a shower or whatever it is that brings them back to a calm state. 

I encourage you and your spouse to discuss this when they are in a calm state. Develop what I like to call a coping card (often used with kids but still very beneficial!) or a safety plan so that you both agree on how you should react to best love and support their mental health.

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Band air bear

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Tip 4: Don’t Take It Personal

At times you may not be the person they need to get better, do not take this personal. Treat the mental disorder as you would a physical illness. 

For example, if your spouse falls and scrapes their knee, you may put a bandaid on it, ice it and you’re good to go! However, if your spouse falls and breaks their leg you would take them to the emergency room where a professional could best serve them. In both scenarios, you are needed to get your spouse the care they need, however in different ways. 

Treat mental illness very similarly. If your spouse poses any behaviors or thoughts that are outside of your scope, know you are supporting them by taking them to the proper individuals that can help. 

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A cup of coffee with a purple flower

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Tip 5: Practice Self Care And Mindfulness

As mentioned before you MUST practice self-care and mindfulness! It can take a lot out of a person mentally and physically to care for someone with a mental disorder, which is why it is important to care for you!

Take some time for yourself to implement the use of your coping skills, self-care routine or the like to get back to 100%! You deserve it and your spouse will love you more for it! Practicing mindfulness by meditating, reading, writing, etc. will allow you time to tune in to your body and fill “your cup” with positive things to pour into your spouse. 

Your self-care time may be going to therapy yourself and allowing yourself time to repair to be your best you. It could also be beneficial to go to therapy as the provider may be able to inform you of the best ways to love and support your spouse, resources, and more detailed ways to care for yourself. 

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Wrap Up

There are a few community support groups that could also join such as NAMI groups or family support groups that will allow you a safe space to ask questions and further build a bond between you and your spouse. There is also the benefit of being in a space that will advocate for your wellbeing as well as your spouse. 

Above all else, I want you to know that the best tip to loving and supporting your spouse’s mental health is to care for your physical and mental health. If you do not, a cycle can start that can be hard to get out of, where they care for you until they can’t and vice versa. Don’t start the cycle, be proactive! 

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This article is not intended, in any way, to represent medical advice. This is about love and support. For medical advice, always contact your physician or call 911 for a medical emergency.

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About The Author

Hi, I am Jessica, founder of Just Call Me Jess, a mental health blog that seeks to reduce stigma by normalizing the conversation surrounding it. My blog educates and provides tips on mental health disorders and the symptoms of those disorders.  I am a Licensed Master Level Social Worker with experience working with adults with severe, persistent mental illnesses and substance use. 

Follow Jess on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter

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5 Tips for loving and supporting your spouse's mental health

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5 Tips for Loving and supporting your spouses mental health

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