Ask Lisa: My son has schizophrenia and my boyfriend hates him

I’m in a wonderful relationship with a man and we are talking about getting married. My adult son , 24 yrs. has schizophrenia and asked me to come live with us. He wants to get better and needs my help.

In the early stages of his illness he didn’t want anything to do with me. It broke my heart. Now that he has been with us the last 5 months and finally taking medication, he’s doing a lot better. He is still not your normal 24 yr old. Can’t work, socially withdrawn, wrists are very weak from 4 suicide attempts so he can really do much yard work. He helps around the house some. His hygiene is not as good as it should be, I have to remind him things to do..he stays in his room most of the time, so he’s better but still has a lot of issues. Taking meds keeps him from doing the really strange things that he was doing before. Clicking his fingers together. Putting hand over ear. Chuckling to himself all the time. Sitting and stairs into space. Ect…

Well my boyfriend of 3 yrs hates him. I think he’s not convinced my son is schizophrenic. Just lazy. I’m hurting so much. I really wanted him to like my son. But he can’t stand to look at him. My son is not mean just sick. And could use a male friend. I’m worried if my boyfriend/fiancé doesn’t overcome his bad feelings it will eventually destroy our relationship

Lisa’s thoughts…

That sounds like a really difficult situation on many levels.  First and foremost, your son has a serious mental illness and as a mother, I imagine there has been much worry around that.  But how wonderful that after a period of him disconnecting from you that he reached out for help – and you were there.  And great that he is improving!

Your boyfriend is behaving in a way that will surely destroy your relationship.  It sounds like he can not only benefit from education about schizophrenia but to find some compassion.  This situation surely isn’t easy for him either but if he loves you and wants to be with you, your son is part of the story and this is what’s going on now.  You need a supportive partner around this, someone you can collaborate with around solutions and what it will look like moving forward.  

I suggest you seek local support services for families with a loved one with schizophrenia and also couples counseling for you and your boyfriend.  It’s important for you both to be able to hear and attempt to understand where the other is coming from in order to find a reasonable solution.  Nobody chooses to be in the situation you are and if you are accepting of it then a potential fiance must be too.  Again, this is hard for him too.  It’s also important to have compassion for him!

If he continues to disregard the illness and stays rooted in his belief that your son is simply “lazy,” then you might have some tough choices to make.

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