As a psychotherapist, marriage counselor, mother and community member, I am acutely aware of the problems confronting singles in their quest to find a marriage mate. This problem is compounded tenfold for individuals with a mental health diagnosis who are taking medication. A person in such a situation is required by many rabbis to disclose all such information by the third date. This is before the other party becomes emotionally invested in the relationship and makes it too easy for them to simply walk away.
Does Our Current Approach Fit Reality?
Many of the people I know with mental illness are compliant with their medication and therapy. They have learned self-care skills and are without a doubt stable, living normal lives. Moreover, these men and women have engaging, vibrant personalities. Yet, they are rejected by matchmakers and prospective spouses due to their mental health status.
Putting This in The Proper Perspective
Suppose, for example, a woman develops postpartum depression and takes medication. Just about any husband would stick by her through this struggle. To expound, many emotional changes do not surface until later in life, after one is potentially married. These emotional changes can be linked to stress, loss, illness or a host of other life changes. In spite of these emotional challenges, the marriage nearly always survives and often grows stronger. Why are we discouraging marriages when a partner has a mental illness when if faced mid-marriage, they are a mere obstacle?
Let’s call on rabbis to confront this injustice and give our sons and daughters the opportunity to shine in a loving relationship. Let’s confront our own attitudes and date people managing mental health struggles just like we would date somebody managing diabetes.
It’s time that our community stop hiding those with mental health struggles in the backroom. What a difference it could make if we helped all singles build a happy family.
Have you noticed that mental health misconceptions have compromised the dating world? Please share your experiences and comments below.