Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Being a parent vs. a spouse

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the difference between being a parent or a spouse of a scz-person. My spouse of 16 years has, at the moment (once again), made it clear to me (and everyone else) that if I try to keep in contact with him, I’m just a desperate ex-girlfriend who is not able to let go. His mother will never be in such a situation, although quite often he talks about his mother as codependent and not being able to let go. But this is naturally acceptable for a mother but not for an ex-girlfriend. And yet, we have been in this same situation numerous times and he has always ended up behind my door demanding for a place to stay since he has nowhere else to go.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a good relationship with his mother and we share information when the other one is being ignored by him. I am grateful for that. But when the reality hits (and he runs off money his parents gave him), he ends up behind my door. The firs time he broke up with me was right before he was diagnosed 11 years ago. I have told him several times that I don’t want him back. He always comes and I am not able to not help him. I hope this time he won’t! So when he leaves, I am a desperate bitch clinging on to him, and when he comes back, I have no option but to help since his parents won’t/can’t.

What am I? A desperate bitch hanging on to someone who does not love me anymore, or someone who is just trying to prepare herself for whatever comes?


I think you’re a very kind and compassionate person who just so happened to fall in love with a person with a terrible mental illness, an illness that can make a wonderful person turn into a complete monster to have to deal with.

You’re a person who tried really hard to make things better for this person, because you had such love for this person, but your efforts just came back to bite you every time. I think you’ve had enough, and nobody could ever blame you for walking away from this forever, especially people who know what it’s like, like the people on this forum.

I just wish you could have your cat back.


If you think of the reasons people get divorced from “average” spouses, well, just don’t factor the illness into the equation and see whether your life is livable with your spouse.


Don’t own that title just because someone slaps you with it. You are more than that. Hold your head up high and don’t be ashamed. There aren’t many people who would choose to be where you are and yet you are there despite what life has thrown at you. You have our support and I hope you know it. Hang in there. Days can get brighter and often do. Only you can know when enough is enough.


Oh, I would not tolerate things like this from anyone else, though I always thought I would not tolerate this from ANYone, EVER, and I have…

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Thank you! I know his words are not true, though when you hear the same things over and over again, at times you end up questioning yourself too.

Even previously it’s been mostly him calling me after he has left, since I have tried to breath, gather my strength and do things I can’t when he is home. I used to tell him that he is always welcome to come home if things go wrong. Last time he left (last fall), I told him he isn’t, unless he will take his meds. He came anyway. This time I tried calling him once, since he promised to call me how the flight was for the cat, but he didn’t. He hung up on me, didn’t say a word, so I haven’t called since. It’s been 2 weeks now.

I know his accusations are not true, but he still gets to me. Somehow his illness makes him ruminate about single events years back and he uses them as “evidence” of his delusions. Like once right after we met, years before he was diagnosed, we were having some wine with my sister, and the wine bottle had a funny shape. We asked him to feel it. I did’t even remember the incident, but he started talking about it recently and says that back then my sister took his fingerprints because he was targeted already then and mys sister is in on it…

I really think that enough is starting to be enough. First, when he started accusing me about a year and a half ago (until that we were on the same side, even when he was off meds, or when we have decided to break up), and then when he started accusing my family. Emotionally, that seems to be my limit! In practice, it’s another question whether I can leave him outside if he ends up behind my door again.

Thank you for your kind words. I miss our cat. But I also believe the cat helps him to survive - I know he will take care of it even when he isn’t able to do much otherwise. The cat means a world to him. So at least for now it is better this way!

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I started to think about this topic because many of you writing here are parents and is natural for a parent to do everything for their children. Every time I try to talk about him needing help he starts accusing me of being a desperate bitch that just can’t get over him. And if he manages to hide his symptoms, this is what it looks like to the outside. If I were a parent (or if we were married), I would have more right to seek him help. Last summer, when he was hospitalised, he explained for weeks that his only problem was a bad relationship and me forcing him to live with me. He was so ill though that it was obvious and they ended up keeping him there for a month. When meds started working, he didn’t even mention it anymore. He told the hospital not to talk to me (but since I visited him every day and he often told me to convince them to release him, I used the opportunity to tell them my opinion - not sure how much they listened, since they released him way too early in my opinion). I’m sure many friends and acquaintances did and do believe him.

I’m sorry about being so detailed. Somehow it helps to write these things here that I have never told anyone.


It’s good to be able to get it out. You don’t have to carry all that alone.


Amber, that must really hurt. I’m sorry that you had to go through that. Many of us get turned on when our children are hospitalized. It hurts but over time we can learn to separate the person from the illness. It hurts less.
My son is now home but once again not wanting to take medication. Some days it seems hopeless but he has come far in other ways.

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I am so sorry Amber, the delusions they can hold about spouses are as painful as the delusions they can hold about their parents. In some ways, I think they can be more painful to spouses. We parents do deal with some resentment along the way from our children whether they are ill or not, sometimes its a part of the process of raising children.

My husband and I have had to deal with understanding that our beloved son’s delusions about us are as real to him as our love for him is to us. We love him dearly and would move the world to help him if given the opportunity.

Delusions dig deep roots in our loved one with brain disorders. Some parents who have achieved meds successfully with their kids tell us that some of the hardcore delusions are still there.

You didn’t do anything to cause these delusions and neither do we parents, that, we have in common. The disorder does it. If any of my neighbors heard my son yelling from his porch that his parents (and he was always sure to use our full names) are sexually abusing him, if they believed him, well, I can’t do anything about their thoughts.

Take care of yourself. I think there must be painfully lonely times in a relationship with a person with a brain disorder.


I have tried twice to sit down and type something to you as I can seriously relate to everything you say, but I struggle for the right words! Partly because I am through with the bullshit in my life regarding his illness and no longer take “no” for an answer (sounds abrupt, but true) and partly because I could write a book to you right now explaining every emotion, every heartbreak and every incident I have experienced on this 4 and a half year roller coaster to hell I call “marriage”!
It is never easy to swallow the things they say to us. At first, I was devastated and heartbroken as this type of slander never came out of my husbands mouth before! How could my partner in crime, the man I married, the father to my son say these things to me…tells me he wishes we never got married, accuses me of having affairs, blames me for his illness!!! And the countless names he would call me, but the one thing that used to really get to me was the word “betrayal”. He told me I betrayed him by calling people who would committ him into the hospital.
After awhile, about 3 years to be exact, these accusations and name calling stopped affecting me. Now, when he is not ok, I call for help and think nothing of it!
I learned that the accusations and the name calling was his illness talking to me, not him! It took a long time to get there! My biggest problem with him now is making sure his illness doesn’t get out of hand to where he does something that will land him in jail. As of right now, he is doing well on the new meds they are giving him and I am trying to stay positive and encourage him any way I can without being overbearing!
My marriage is not the same, so much damage done! I have gone through the mourning process and now I just accept things for the way they are. He has no one else to watch out for him but me and I cannot bare the thought of him on his own and Ill. He has a mother in a nursing home and a sister who could give a shit less about him. And the shame there is my husband used to be close to her but now because he is ill, she doesn’t want to deal with him. And beleive it or not she is a social worker for the county I live in…she deals with people who have mental illness everyday but I guess it is unacceptable for her brother to have the same type of problems…she has simply washed her hands of him! You are not married to him: mourn your loss and move on! I know it is easier said than done, but you have to draw the line somewhere.


I never thought I would tolerate or be in a position of ever consider tolerating some of the treatment I have received from my son.

I have been called the worst names, been repeatedly taken advantage of financially and in terms of my time and attention, and dealt with more stress than I ever imagined possible.

I don’t know, I think it might be easier as a spouse to say enough is enough than as a mother. But I guess it just depends on the people involved.

Its all awful, and I know how it gets into you, just crawls under your skin. I also know how you feel you just have had enough, but when the time comes, you just see yourself as the only thing standing between someone you have love for living on the streets or ending up in jail.


I have always worried about him dying. He attempted suicide once in the beginning. For years now he has been saying that he wants to live, but “they” want him dead. My previous boyfriend died in a car accident when I was 20 and I have always thought that I will do anything and everything to keep him from harming himself. This is my biggest fear!

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I can really relate to you Ginger and I am so sorry you are going through this! It is somehow comforting, but also heartbraking, that it stops affecting. Although my spouse has beel ill for almost 11 years, it has been only for a little over a year now that he has had these delusions about me. Before we were always on the same side and he counted on me, so even when he was off meds occasionally, it was tolerable. And in about a year I have not gotten used to the accusations, although I know it is not him but the illness. It still gets to me every time. I really wish now that he survives on his own (with some support from his mother), though the realist in me knows that it is highly unlikely.

I don’t think you ever get used to the accusations. Even when in my head I know “it is the illness” my body has that ‘fight or flight’ response.


I have learned, most of the time, to breathe, pause, and say “ok” or “thanks”, and not to start arguing with him. It helps me a lot, and most of the time it diffuses the situation, but sometimes he then accuses me of “being told (to my earwig, btw. I had to look that up in a dictionary) what to say” or “being payed by US government to stay calm” :stuck_out_tongue:


Yes! I am told I am suffering from mind-control! Can’t win!

Or, maybe even worse - being told to ‘calm down’ even when I am perfectly calm.


My son is paranoid sz. . My mom has Alzheimer dementia. I hear all kinds of craziness due to the fact I am the primary care giver. My husband has generalized anxiety disorder. He is the mentally “healthiest” of the all but what he says/does hurts the most. I think that is because in the case of a child the relationship starts out as they are totally dependent on you. With a parent in the beginning you are totally dependent on them. Your spouse though is supposed to be your equal … your partner. You have different expectations.

My husband is not as extreme as the other too, but he drives me to tears–whereas with the other two I can mentally roll my eyes and move on.

In short it is more complicated and only you can make the decision to stay or go.


I’m in a similiar position- although without the added benefit of a communicative mother as she suffers from untreated schizophrenia and feeds the belief to her son they are special and been given a gift. I don’t think you are desperate bitch holding on- I think you are being compassionate and caring towards someone you love and offering solace when there is none to be found elsewhere. When my partner (he calls me his wife, though we are not married) is having a psychotic break, I always leave the doors open for him to find respite- despite any nasty things he has come up prior to storming out. His longest break from me was around seven months and then randomly walked in as though he had only been gone for a few days. That day, I sent him out because I was unaware of the degree of his illness. Hours later he self-committed himself to a physchiatric hospital. He left AMA, but with meds and diagnosis in hand. I was the first he reached out to, and felt it would be unjust if I did not support someone seeking help. It’s been a hellacious few months because he stopped taking meds and has refused his follow up appointment and any other attempts at reconnecting with a doctor to refill meds. I’ve refused to give up hope on him because I see the man trapped within. Today we have court thanks to a DV charge when he decided to break a door in my home. I have almost been guaranteed by the witness advocate that the judge is going to sentence him to required treatment. While we are going to court together- I’m not sure after my testimony he is going to be so eager to come home with me. Regardless, I know I am attempting to save his life, bring him some semblance of peace, and am willing to have him cut me out again. I am the one who has to hope for him, because there is no one else. I am willing to take the emotional difficulties because I am able to rebound and regain my sanity. He isn’t that lucky. I’ve been told by everyone that I need to walk out, give up, he’s never going to help himself…(of course he isn’t! He doesn’t believe he’s sick!)
What advice I can offer you is this: if you haven’t already, learn the art of detachment. You can still love them, help when you are able, but when these episodes happen, you don’t have to be wrapped up emotionally. It used to give me the most awful panic attacks and I would be in tears of absolute agony daily. I went on meds to cope. The more I educate myself, the more comfortable I feel about expectations and the more validation I find about my own emotional struggles.
We’ve lost a pregnancy at 8 weeks, we’ve struggled through that almost killing me because of hemorrhaging and days of being hospitalized, we’ve gone through awful breakups because of false memories and empty accusations of infidelity… but he’s always come back, and I’ve always been there to help guide him through the worst of it while sacrificing my sanity. But maybe, that’s just what you do when you love someone? Or maybe, we just see another human who needs help with compassion and are able to provide that with the hope that this time, this time, we will be able to get through to them during some small sliver of clarity that presents itself.
In either case, I see desperation, but desperation in truly wanting to provide the loving relationship everyone deserves to someone that may need it the most. With that, comes more challenges and new definitions of how the relationship will function. I can say it’s hard, it’s difficult when you become the enemy, and scary as hell to think they could walk out that door and never look back. :cry: It used to be weeks, then days, then two days, then one, and now, he’s gone for maybe an hour before he turns back around. The detachment helps avoid conflict or escalating the situation and seems to have resulted in less walk outs. I wish you peace with all of this, however, and know you aren’t alone and I think I get where you’re coming from.