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Dr. Rossi
Dr. Rossi, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 4627
Experience:  PsyD, LPC, CHt
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My sister is getting married 3 1/2 weeks from now. I believe

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My sister is getting married 3 1/2 weeks from now. I believe her fiance is possible bi-polar and my be cheating on her. What do I do?
(I'd emailed this to a local Psychologist close to my sister in Rochester, but I haven't heard back and I don't even know if it's an area she works in, so I figured I'd attempt to find another source for some feedback)
I am contacting you to try to investigate counseling options for my younger sister and her fiance. I don't know if you actually do pre-mar
Dr. Rossi :


Dr. Rossi :

What are his symptoms that make you suspect a bipolar disorder?

Dr. Rossi :

When is the marriage supposed to take place?

Dr. Rossi :

If your sister has insurance, she may want to use an in network counselor. Also, some employeers offer EAP benefits (employee assistance) which, allows for some free sessions w/ a therapist.

Dr. Rossi :

If you're to speak to your sister, you may want to try using specific examples of what is troubling you in regard to her fiance's behavior.

Dr. Rossi :

You've mentioned that the marriage is supposed to take place in less than a month. Is that set in stone?

Dr. Rossi :

If you were inquiring what sort of a clinician her fiance would benefit from seeing, if it is a true bipolar disorder, it would initially be a psychiatrist (for medication management) The condition is generally managed w/ medication and then counseling.

Dr. Rossi :

Now, if you're wondering about premarital therapy it would be different than couple's therapy. Insurance does not generally cover these.

Dr. Rossi :

There is a possibility that instead of your sister being appreciative for what you and your parents are trying to do, may become resentful and withdrawn.

Dr. Rossi :

It is an issue that you'd want to explore with your parents depending on how open your sister is to feedback especially one that can hurt her if he is really unfaithful.

Dr. Rossi :

It would be something that you'd have to approach sensitively. Try to find out from her how the relationship is going, is she happy/satisfied, does she have any last minute doubts, etc.

Dr. Rossi :

Approach this from her perspective and if she mentions something that you see as a red flag, talk about it with her. She may be less defensive if you ask her open ended questions that allow her to come up to certain conclusions about him.

Dr. Rossi :

Not sure if you're still online. Please feel free to reply rather than rate until we're through w/ the issue at hand. Clarify what is it you're most interested in receiving through the Q & A platform. Thanks.

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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Hi Dr. Rossi,

About the possibility of BiPolar disorder...I've seen him go into his rage twice in Philadelphia and physically it's clear he becomes distressed, to the point where he shakes, he's closed down and the level anger, overall, seems extremely disproportinate to whatever it was that set him off. It's a situation where I would imagine it would have my sister feeling like she should be walking on egg shells around him. He also has a history of heavy marijuana use, which has made me wonder if he was self-medicating. At this time though I don't know about any kind of drug or alcohol abuse. Also his sister has described him as being abnormally "Hot" tempered since he was young which contributed to him being put out on the street, by his aunt when he was 18.

She's already told me that this part of his behavior makes her uncomfortable/scares her and she's also already said that she wasn't sure if she wanted to marry him, more than once but a month ago and further back.

The wedding is July 14th and my parents are basically paying for everything.

I'm not sure how to bring it up, but I feel certain I need to say something. She will be here this weekend and that's why I'm seeking out advice now.

It's difficult for me, because she has a history of being defensive of bad situations. Part of the history consists of having a bf that she finally told our family had bi-polar disorder and refused to take his meds. I wasn't surprised since he had similar rage displays as this person where the anger was disproportionate to any offense there may have been and was extreme. He was emotionally abusive, controlling and very critical or anyone that was close to her. He was cheating on her which I wasn't surprised about, but she was very defensive about every criticism. She didn't break-up with him until he had to finally admit to her that he had been cheating and had contracted gonorrhea. He didn't even admit that until a phone call she got from him on the our 13 hour ride back from her college to move her things.

The cheating part is difficult, because all I have to go on is a phone call I partially overheard of him making arrangements to meet someone during his job training months ago where he abruptly ended the call when he noticed I'd walked into the room and then there was an awkward silence. I didn't talk to my sister about this, but I did talk to my parents which turned into the discussion about hiring a private detective to try to confirm or deny and that never happened.

Essentially I view this as a Bee Hive of issues where I have to finally say something to her, I just am trying to figure out the best way, attempt to find whichever relevant counseling might be available.

Thank you for clarifying.

Bipolar disorder is a depressive spectrum condition where a person would have periods of depression then mania. What you're describing sounds like possible Intermittent Explosive Disorder traits or at least low frustration tolerance on his part.

You do have to say something to her and when you do, stick to the facts (what you observed, what you heard) She can make her own interpretation from it rather than you interpreting it for her (which can make her angry at you)

If your parents are going to available when she visits, they can too speak to her about their impression of him (based on tangible info). It would help to speak w/ her about her own level of satisfaction within the relationship and whether or not she's having any second thoughts (as marriage is an important and huge step) that would alter her life hence forth.

Counseling would be an option in the event that there is something going on with him (either psychologically or related to infidelity) and both of them are willing to address what is going on. In the event that she halts the wedding or postpones it, counseling can be helpful to her as well to allow her to sort through her emotions and plans.

When you talk to her, inquire as to whether or not she feels that she knows him well, ask her in the event that there are issues, how would the two of them generally resolve/address these, etc. If she's open to talk, she'd want to be heard and that is what you're going to make sure takes place. You know that no matter what you or your parents say, it is her that makes the final decision about what to do. You want to let her know that you're going to be there for her either way.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you very much Dr. Rossi I really appreciate your assistance.
One other thing I wanted to add about why I thought it may be bi-polar disorder is that my sister has described moments of a extreme sensitivity from him that almost did sound like depression, but I'm not really around him enough to say.
Depressive periods and manic ones would last longer in duration. There is another one called Cyclothymia w/ Rapid Cycling. That is a milder form of bipolar disorder.
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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The only thing I have doubts about is telling her about the phone call without really having any more information. Does it make sense to tell her about that without really knowing for sure?
If you're not sure, you could only mention what you observed/heard. Or, if you feel that the information is insufficient, it may do more harm telling her under the assumption that he was speaking to a female w/ whom he had an intimate encounter.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I told her about everything and she got upset, tried to tell me that I was right in some respects, but didn't have the whole story, resented that I waited as long as I did and felt that my expectations were too high for her. She dismissed the awkward phone call situation as a conversation with his son...which I don't buy at all since I don't think he would have been talking to his son about what time training session he was going to, but I guess it's possible. She also tried to say that I didn't know that the timing correlated with the training when I know his training and when it started was a topic of many discussions in the family when they came back, right before the phone call situation happened. She was much more concerned about the wedding date coming up, which I can understand, but I was just oping for less tunnel vision.

Anyway, I've come to the conclusion that even though I would wish for something different for her, for whatever reason she needs that kind of relationship drama in her life. Her previous relationship was far worse, but there are definitely some similarities.(mostly the fact that she feels compelled to fight to change the person and make the relationship right, or at least that's what I've observed.)

Intellectually, I know telling her was the best thing, but emotionally I'm smarting a bit and have some regrets. I just felt like I wanted to tell you what happened.

Do you find that often times women or men don't believe even in the possibility of infidelity with someone they are in love with? Was/am I overreacting to the phone call and all of the other things?

Hi again,

Yes, it is not unusual for women to become defensive. Some individuals prefer to live in an imaginary relationship rather than face the truth. It is less painful and threatening.

You do realize that this is her choice and that you told her only because you were concerned. She at all times decides how to react to your news. She chose to react this way.

At some point, she may learn that no one can change another. You're not necessarily overreacting to the phone call. You told her what you heard and did not embellish anything. All you did is give her heads up. Her reaction may have seemed out of proportion because she's already stressed out about the wedding. Try not to take it too personally.

As far as feeling guilty, you did what you did. Some things have to take place. The intent behind your actions was well meant.

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