Dear Dr. Yael,
I have a 24-year-old nephew who was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. He is a good looking, bright, wonderful boy with great middos. He is in yeshiva, but has also finished college and is planning to go on to graduate school. Unfortunately, many girls won’t look beyond the diagnosis and therefore won’t go out with him. I know that you have been instrumental in making shidduchim and I am seeking your help in raising awareness about this situation. Maybe you know that special someone who will appreciate everything that he has to offer. If any of your readers can be of some help, they can contact me through Olam Yehudi.
Thank you and tizku l’mitzvos.
A Caring Aunt
Dear Caring Aunt,
Let me begin by saying that if people with a bi-polar disorder take their medication regularly, they can live good lives and have successful marriages. More difficult to live with are people with Borderline Personality Disorder, which is sometimes confused with Bipolar Disorder.
Hopefully, readers will respond to your request and there will be hatzlacha.
Dear Dr. Yael,
I am living in a marriage that feels like prison. It wasn’t always that way.
We have a large beautiful family, with children approaching the age of shidduchum. We are doing well financially and until recently everything was fine for us.
My loving sweet husband, who was amazing to me, is suddenly screaming at me all the time. It’s as if he had a complete personality change. He is angry with the children, frustrated, short-tempered, and miserable to live with.
When I tell him how I feel, he blames me. He says that I changed. However, the children are terrified of him.
I have asked him to go for help, but he refuses. He doesn’t really have a specific rav as he supports many shuls and mosdos.
I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to get divorced, I just want my husband back.
Stuck in a Marital Prison
There is much to discuss about your letter, and clearly therapy would be advisable. However, the first thing I would very strongly suggest is that your husband gets a complete medical evaluation.
There are any number of diseases that can affect a person’s nervous system and cause changes in parts of the brain that regulate behavior. Brain tumors, specifically, can cause significant personality changes. The frontal lobe is the command center of personality, so tumors in this locale cause obvious behavioral changes.
Pituitary tumors create hormonal imbalances that affect mood, emotions, and personality.
Years ago I treated a woman for behavioral issues. I was pretty sure that there was something medically wrong with her. Although a neurologist had sent her to me, he did not pick up on her brain tumor.
As my daughter, Orit, and I are both married to physicians, we are careful to first rule out any medical issues before treating someone psychologically.
If you are able to rule out medical issues, then therapy is most definitely called for. Even if your husband does not want to go for help, it’s something you can do alone. I have worked with many spouses, both women and men, who come to therapy to deal with a spouse who refuses to get help.
I teach my clients effective countermoves so that the “angry” spouse who claims that he or she is being provoked is then faced with a nice response to his or her anger. This makes it hard for the angry spouse to stay angry.
One technique I teach is answering a negative with a positive. This is very challenging to do when someone is angry with you and yelling; however, it really does work. We have had great success in saving marriages that many thought were broken.
My favorite line is “Maaneh rach yashiv chema – He who answers softly stops the anger.” Although it is so hard to answer someone calmly when he is yelling at you, you will get tremendous s’char and, likely stop the anger in the process!