9 Beliefs to Question About Relationships and Mental Health

Mar 04, 2021
Dangerous Assumptions
It's my wedding anniversary to the man I've cared for for over 23 years.
But I forgot—until my mom texted me, "Happy Anniversary."
Thankfully, it was before Joe got up. He gets really grumpy when I forget our big day. Luckily, it only happens about once a year. I remember it on all the other days.
I often wonder what I was thinking.
We've been married 31 years, but we had only been together less than two when Iraq invaded Kuwait and Joe was off to the Middle East on a Navy Tender, the U.S.S. Acadia.
When he came home, I quickly realized something was different about him.

Within a few short years, I felt like he was a stranger. With the onset of schizophrenia and multiple physical problems, it became impossible for him to work. 

I learned to challenge beliefs I'd previously had about marriage—ideas about honesty, communication, and compromise.

They were “truths” I thought to be great wisdom. I’d heard speakers and leaders and successful married people say them many times.

A couple must be able to trust each other.

  1. Partners should always keep confidences.
  2. Marriage is all about compromise.
  3. You have to meet each other half-way.
  4. Never go to bed angry.
  5. Communication is essential.
  6. It's important to always be on the same page.
  7. Never fight in front of the children.
  8. A couple who prays together, stays together.

Some of that works—some of the time.

The rest of the time, it just doesn't. Not with schizophrenia. And it's totally okay.

Safety in Re-thinking

We've learned that just because our marriage is different from what we'd imagined it would be like doesn't mean anything has gone wrong.

I believe in a God who is never surprised. He knew all this would happen. He has a plan for every single one of his children, and he knows me. He's got my husband in the palm of his hand.

Nothing we do can disappoint him. That would imply that he thought we should be perfect.

I believe we're supposed to be human and that our difficulties help us grow. We need to make mistakes and struggle and be wrong and stuff.


And it's okay if our relationships are rocky. That teaches us how devoted we are to each other, how compassionate we can become to ourselves, and how creative we will be in figuring out the puzzles.

My list of marriage expectations currently looks like this.

  1. Therapeutic fibbing frequently solves problems.
  2. Explaining our “dirty laundry” to health care providers, therapists, and coaches helps keep me safe, physically and mentally.
  3. I don't have to compromise my emotional health to be a good wife.
  4. I meet him where he is because he can't meet me half-way. He's sick.
  5. I go to bed annoyed at least half of the time, and it's okay.
  6. Communication can be exhausting, and it's vital to carefully choose what to talk about, intentionally sharing what he can reasonably receive.
  7. I don't want to be on some pages he's on, and I can't expect him to be on mine.
  8. Our children are the amazing men they are because they've experienced hardship and sorrow, and they've overcome personal challenges.
  9. After several unfortunate delusions springing from prayers we’ve said as a couple, I’ve realized it works better to say my own, only praying together if he suggests it. 

Your relationship with your partner is probably the most sacred human relationship of your life—except for the one with yourself.

Your spiritual health is entirely between you and your higher power.

Your relationship with you—if that one is suffering, will affect your partner as well.

Embrace Change When it Works

So keep your circle small, your expectations minimal, your boundaries well-enforced, and your thoughts supportive.

Have your partner's back. It might not be the best idea to blast him or her on social media or get into the habit of complaining to anyone willing to listen, but reporting your struggles to professionals can help both of you.

It's possible to do all that and have your own back too.

Let yourself be honest about what's hurting but don't feel guilty about sheltering your partner from some of life's painful realities that might trigger a negative response.

At the same time, realize that you can't control your partner's feelings. Our loved ones get to experience life, too. It isn't our responsibility to protect them from everything.

I do choose to protect my husband from living (dying) on the street.

He protects me from ever in 31 years of marriage, being stuck by the side of the road with car trouble. He's hyper vigilant with our vehicles.

It makes me crazy (secondary schizophrenia). Every day it's something. The cars need oil changes, rotated tires, brake jobs, and a gazillion other things. Because he's talented at car care, his dignity is somewhat intact.

I don't interfere or resent his endless reports of all the Jeri-rigging he figures out, the money he spends, or the vast quantities of money he saves us as Mr. Mechanic.


If you want to know how to enjoy a long and loving relationship, begin by noticing your thoughts about how you think it’s supposed to look.

It'll be way different for you than for us.

You have everything you need within you to figure out your partnership. It takes work, and maybe you need a professional or a coach, but it starts with questioning your beliefs.

When you begin to look at your previous notions about relationships that you've learned throughout life, from your parents, religious leaders, friends, peers, famous people, Hollywood, romance novelists, or wherever, you'll find that some of it needs to get out of the way.

You can figure out what works for you.

Choosing your thoughts about your relationship and ditching expectations you’ve never before questioned is some of the most important work you'll ever do. 

For YOU.

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