Shawn Maxam shares a story about his struggle with being faithful while having a psychotic break.
Marriage requires a special talent, like acting. Monogamy requires genius.
*Originally Published March 2011.
It is a peculiar thing checking the divorced box on the Census, other mandatory government and employment documents. Very Scarlet letter. Marital failure due to infidelity. I had an affair while I was experiencing a manic episode which later became an acutely depressed episode.
The whole thing was pretty epic. Especially the part where my ex-wife threw my cell phone at me in the hospital while I was recovering because I had spoken with my mistress at 4am. She was than banned from visiting by my doctor. God I was such a douchebag!
I felt guilty about engaging in behavior that I completely abhor and although my brain wasn’t being quite rational at the time I still take full responsibility. So here I am several years removed from that experience and I have all of these questions about the sustainability of my next partnership.
The reality is that I’m a young guy. I’ve only cheated once in my life but that’s akin to saying I only went to prison once. I still f*$ked up. Now there are many reasons why men will cheat. Sex being reason one through five for myself. Of course it’s more nuanced than that. Sex for me involved emotional expression and connection to my partner. It’s how I was taught/conditioned to express love even though I could have sex with women I don’t love. Confusing right?
Relationships are very difficult. Even the most well-intentioned, smartest and most determined individuals fail to make it work. So love is basically a game of Texas Hold’em Poker. You have some control over how you play the cards you’re dealt but chance and circumstance still have a huge say over the outcome. Now bipolar is the drunken uncle who surprisingly shows up and either ruins a card game going fairly well or totally accelerates the destruction of game already going poorly.
Promiscuity and a heightened libido are symptoms of mania. But aren’t those just symptoms of being a man as well? So my biological AND neurological tendencies are to spread the wealth when it comes to my family jewels. Sociologically this isn’t seen as a bad thing either. So my body, mind and society are all supportive of non-monogamous behavior. Damn! I actually believe in monogamy and prefer to be married. I think the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. But we compromise our beliefs everyday.
I wonder aloud (figuratively of course) if I can do it. Should I even attempt it. I’m only going to be thirty. I can have kids and a wife at fifty if I want. I haven’t discussed yet how many women actually are negative triggers. Honestly when you’re in a relationship you’re also managing the emotions of your partner. And who is more emotional than a your spouse or partner? A bipolar person. So now you have the exciting prospect of managing your unstable emotions and the emotions of your wife or significant other. We also haven’t even introduced periods of emotional volatility experienced by you or your partner. If I remarry then what about the hormonal upheaval of pregnancy? Postpartum depression? Am I the only person asking myself these questions?
I don’t have the answers. Hopefully if you’re a man with a mental illness you’ll be lucky enough to find a really awesome and supportive person who understands and appreciates your dilemma.
P.S. None of my Bipolar male friends are monogamous at the moment. Those that are in relationships they tend to end very quickly.
Today I am happily remarried. So a monogamous relationship was possible for me. I hope if it is your desire that if you are an individual living with a mental illness that you find a healthy lifelong commitment as well.
Please share this with friends, enemies and temporary allies alike.
Thank you so much for reading, sharing and commenting.
Flickr image via by peasap