I’ve been married for four years. Everything was wonderful at the beginning of our relationship, and we understood each other, but stress and her character (bipolar) make the situation tense all the time…. I spend more time at work than at home to avoid arguments, and I’ve tried to talk to her many times, but she won’t accept any criticism.

About a month ago a younger woman, full of life and joy, came into my life. She makes me feel good. We are friends, but she wants us to be more than that. I don’t know what to do, because my wife is my wife, but I see our marriage as on the edge of the cliff. I don’t know what the turning point should be to begin a divorce or start a new relationship.

Dear Friend,

You refer to your wife’s character as bipolar. However, bipolar is not a character trait; it is a very serious illness. If your wife has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, then she needs to be on medication that can regulate her brain chemicals. You took vows on your wedding day to love her in sickness as well as in health. A bipolar disorder is definitely a sickness, and not an excuse for you to get a divorce or a girlfriend.

However, it is entirely possible that you use the word “bipolar” to describe your wife, not because she has been diagnosed as bipolar but because you want us to know that you think that her behavior is out of control. If that is your intention, then rather than describing your wife’s behavior, you inadvertently reveal that you are trying to make a good case for why you would be justified to get rid of this wife and begin another relationship.

You say that your relationship with your wife was wonderful before, but now it is intolerable. You stay at work long hours because your wife is unreasonable. And the two of you cannot communicate without arguing. Unfortunately, you are describing the conflict underlying a large percentage of marriages.

God didn’t design marriage to be a battlefield. He didn’t design men and women to be primarily looking out for their own selfish interests, either. After all, God gave us the ultimate example of true love when He unselfishly sacrificed His only Son, Jesus Christ, so that we could be saved from eternal punishment. True love is sacrifice, and God showed us how it is done.

God designed marriage to be a relationship in which the spouses love one another so much that each of them is willing to sacrifice some of what is preferable to make the other one happy. But when the spouses begin to keep track of who has sacrificed the most, then selfishness rears its ugly head.

Statistics show that if you get a divorce and then marry for a second time, your second marriage has less chance of success than your first. If you do that, you will likely find yourself in another failed marriage, again wondering how to get out of it. That happy young woman who makes you feel good can very easily become the next one that you will call bipolar.

Your marriage problems have developed over years, and it may take years for the marriage to get better. Please make it a priority to see a counselor who can help the two of you find your way back to the wonderful relationship that you once had. It will be hard work, but the end result will be worth it.

We wish you the best,