Dear Annie: My wife is struggling with bipolar disorder and she’s taking it out on me

Dear Annie: My wife and I have been together for over 13 years. She is a great person who has issues with bipolar disorder. I’ve gotten used to it, and with things being off from time to time, but I’m not sure how to handle this last situation.

I knew my work jeans were really getting worn, but even though they had holes worn in the legs, they were still usable and covered everything that is not supposed to be seen in public. But my wife took it upon herself to start buying me new jeans -- in fact, three new pairs of jeans. I appreciate what she is doing for me, but this evening we had a blowup.

I was at home, and if I’m home, I take her to work and go pick her up when she gets off. When it was getting close to the time for me to pick her up, I took a quick shower and planned to put on my old jeans. All I could find in the laundry were the three new pairs of jeans. I found out later that she had thrown out all my old work jeans.

When I picked her up, I asked what she had done with my work pants, and she immediately got hostile and started yelling and telling me that I didn’t have anything that was worth wearing in my old work pants and I should have more respect for myself than to wear them.

She said I should not wear clothes with holes in them, and she refused to calm down and kept trying to keep the argument going. I had to just get in my truck and leave the house for a while, and then she called me and said she thought I needed to come back home. When I got there, she started yelling all over again. I told her she had no reason to be so loud.

Now, I don’t know if her bipolar disorder has something to do with her thinking that if you are worried about someone you should yell at them. I’m running out of ways to deal with the situation and her changing moods. Can you give me any advice? I do love my wife dearly and don’t want to let this ruin our relationship.

-- Trying to Understand


Dear Trying to Understand: First off, it’s not about the pants. It’s about your wife’s behavior currently, and it sounds like throwing away your favorite pants was your tipping point. The best thing to do is speak with your wife and ask her if she is OK. How is her treatment program working with her diagnosis? Is she taking her medications and going to therapy?

You might also consider seeing a therapist who specializes in bipolar disorder to help you better understand the disease. I admire how much you love your wife and are really trying to help her.

Annie Lane

Annie Lane offers common-sense solutions to everyday problems. She's firm, funny and sympathetic, echoing the style of her biggest inspiration, Ann Landers. She lives outside Manhattan with her husband, two kids and two dogs. When not writing, she devotes her time to play dates and Play-Doh. Write her: