*Throughout the article, reference is made to 'he' or 'she' when talking about a person who is bipolar. It can be either, and using one term or the other is merely for the sake of convenience. These suggestions are meant for anyone, male or female, who is suffering from bipolar and his (or her) family and friends.

Both partners in a bipolar marriage need to remember that what may feel like a relationship problem that can only be solved by a divorce often actually has nothing to do with the marriage, but is tied to the bipolar itself.

When your bipolar spouse cries, 'Divorce!' remain calm and remind yourself that the underlying problem isn't necessarily you or the marriage. However, there are times when being away from each other may be just the safety valve you need.

Some married couples have discovered that when a bipolar spouse is going through a particularly rough patch with mood swings that evidence themselves through aggressiveness and anger or hostility, it can actually help to temporarily separate.

One couple reports that they have an agreement that she will spend two weeks at home focusing intensely on herself and working with her therapist to get back on track. Being at the house without her husband there as a target prevents confrontations that could turn into blow-ups and allows her to focus all of her resources on getting her episode under control.

For his part, the husband reports that he has found that a few weeks spent at his brother's house gives him the opportunity to 'decompress' from the constant pressure of a bipolar marriage. He is able to step back and gain some perspective and recall the many reasons he loves his wife.

When the most critical phase of his wife's episode has passed, the two get together and are able to discuss things with a greater sense of compassion and a renewed commitment to their marriage. They both report that they are centered and have moved past the 'accusing' stage and are able to focus on the real problems they may be having rather than trying to simply hurl accusations and shove each other away.

This may not work for every couple, but it's certainly an option to consider for couples who bounce the 'divorce' ball back and forth too often.

Remember, in all relationships there is an ebb and flow, much like the tide. There will be times when you and your husband or wife will want to be very close to each other.

But when your spouse is bipolar, there are more likely to be times when he or she will need some space and time to come to grips with her own internal turmoil. It's a place you can't go with her, and needing to travel that road alone doesn't mean she loves you any less. In fact, she may return with her love for you made even stronger because you were able to understand and wait patiently.