These are many emotions a person goes through when enduring the mental illness of a loved one. It can be very agonizing or frustrating watching a spouse’s mental condition deteriorate, and many marriages are unable to carry on through the strain. The insecurity and heartache of mental illness are often magnified with social reactions. Unlike more commonly understood physical conditions such as cancer, psychological illnesses are heavily stigmatized and misunderstood. The mentally ill along with his or her family, often go through intense feelings of shame, embarrassment, and confusion over the condition. It can often be a backbreaking burden to live with a mentally ill husband or wife, and the frustration and pain of the spouse are often overlooked. However, there is hope. Over time, it is possible to develop the skills and understanding that are necessary in dealing with a mentally ill spouse. It is also possible, to develop coping mechanisms that will help you get through the mental illness in a loved one. There are a few things you must accept and remember when dealing with a mentally ill spouse. The first thing to remember is that the illness is not your fault. It is all too easy to blame yourself, your spouse, or other people, but this type of thinking is not helpful. Your husband or wife’s illness is caused by biological factors far beyond your control. You must also keep in mind that your spouse’s symptoms may go from bad to worse to better and back again, despite any efforts you make. In order to help yourself and your spouse, focus your energy on maintaining healthy communication and interaction. Keep in mind that atypical behavior is a major characteristic of mental illness. You must learn to accept this, and not to take it to heart. This can be one of the most difficult aspects of living with a mentally ill spouse. You may find that your husband or wife is abnormally irritable and combative. He or she may want to spend hours or even days primarily to his or herself. The key to dealing with this unpredictable behavior is to first ensure that your husband or wife poses no serious threat to his or herself or anyone else. After that has been established, you must learn how to separate the illness from the person you love. Remember that your spouse has little or no control over his or her emotions and outbursts. When he or she says or does something hurtful and out-of-the-ordinary, refuse to indulge the illness by retaliating against your spouse. Calmly explain to your spouse that you love him or her, and because of that, you are not going to respond. Then, stick to it! Leave the room, and occupy yourself. Dignifying irrationality with anger doesn’t do anyone any good. There is no practical response. Finally, do not neglect yourself. Although your natural inclination may be to cater to your spouse’s every whim, the truth is that you cannot help anyone else if you cannot help yourself. Do not neglect your own emotional needs. You will be doing yourself a great service if you allow yourself to vent your frustrations, either to a friend or a professional therapist. Having a spouse with a mental illness is very difficult but it’s not impossible to work through.