On your wedding day you could never imagine that depression could cloud your lives to the degree it can. Depression can take your spouse hostage and change how they conduct their lives and how they interact with you. It can also confuse and frustrate you. You want to help but you don’t know how to help your spouse who is depressed without making matters worse.
Spouse is Depressed
You may be able to relate to what author Cheri Fuller said about her experience in trying to help her depressed husband. She writes:
“I tried everything I could think of to cheer him up. I pointed out all the positive things he did, such as being a great dad or helping other people. Also, I encouraged Holmes to look ahead to a family trip we’d planned, but that didn’t help, either. As the months rolled into years, neither my encouraging words nor my hard work to take up the slack in our income seemed to make a difference.” (From the article, “When Your Husband Struggles with Depression” —to read more use the Todayschristianwoman.com link provided.)
Concern and Frustration
One husband, as quoted by Carolyn MacInnes, admitted that his concern for his depressed wife turned into frustration,
“I’d ask again and again what was wrong. But she never had an answer. Not only was I aggravated by my feelings of helplessness, I was angry the life I’d worked so hard to provide wasn’t enough to make her happy.”
His wife added:
“And the more angry he got, the more he’d withdraw from me. Then I’d feel guilty and withdraw even more. We just kept drifting further apart.” (From the Focus on the Family article, “When Your Spouse is Depressed.” We recommend you read more of this article.)
Can You Relate?
Can you relate to what they’ve lived through with their depressed spouse? It’s understandable why some couples “drift apart.” Depression effects both of you in so many ways. It drags you both down and changes things on so many levels.
You may even find it difficult to understand how someone who is “godly” can also struggle with depression. But as Dr Roger Barrier explains:
“Even the godly can be depressed. There is no contradiction between being a person of great faith and a person of great despair at the same time. We often think that great people and grand accomplishments have grand beginnings. Great accomplishments and great lives often are birthed in sorrow. Those who have plumbed the depths of their own inadequacies are the ones God invariably calls to shepherd others. Why?”
To learn more, please click onto the “Preach It, Teach It” web site link to read the following (plus other related articles on the subject):
• CAN A CHRISTIAN BE DEPRESSED?
Additionally, the former publication, “New Man Magazine,” featured an article that explains some of the causes, along with some tips to “beat depression.” Please read:
• THE TRUTH ABOUT MEN AND DEPRESSION
Something to consider when it comes to depression:
“At the Smart Marriage Conference in July 2010, we attended a session called ‘Marriage and Depression: Coping With Depression As A Couple.’ The session leaders, Dennis Lowe, Ph.D and Emily Scott-Lowe, Ph.D told us that they called the depression in their marriage the unwelcome intruder. Why? By viewing the depression as an unwelcome intruder, a couple has an easier time uniting to meet this external challenge. They are not angry at each other. They are angry at the unwelcome intruder in the relationship.
“Let’s say the couple dealing with depression can’t go out and socialize anymore. One may angrily say, ‘Everything is so different. Because of you, we don’t see friends anymore!’ If instead, you view the depression as an unwelcomed intruder, you may hear, ‘I am so angry at what depression is doing to our social life.'” (Diane and Lewis Denbaum, from madlyinloveforever.com article, “When Love Is Challenged By An ‘Unwelcome Intruder'”)
To learn even more about this “Unwelcome Intruder” the following Reader’s Digest article may help when you read more as Dennis and Emily Lowe explain it:
• HOW TO COPE WITH A DEPRESSED SPOUSE
Spouse Depressed: Another Suggestion
Here’s a suggestion that Patty Newbold (from Assumelove.com) makes to help you when you’re dealing with your spouse’s depression:
“Don’t focus on the illness. What you can do instead is to take extra care of your marriage while your husband, or wife deals with the depression. Make a list of the valuable things you get from your marriage. And work on ways to keep getting them while your spouse is unable to provide them.
“For example, if your spouse temporarily has no enthusiasm for being your tennis partner, movie date, idea person, or editor, find others to fill in. Make it clear to them and your spouse that they are temporary, and don’t choose anyone with whom your mate might feel competitive. But by all means, keep doing what fills you up and makes you smile.”
To learn more, please read:
• HOW TO AVOID GETTING SUCKED INTO YOUR MATE’S DEPRESSION
Dr David Hawkins tells of a counseling session he had with a husband and wife, where depression was taking control and robbing them of any joy they could embrace. In this Crosswalk.com article, Dr Hawkins writes of how the husband and wife reacted to each other. This article also includes some of the advice he gives to couples that are trying to deal with the joy-robber:
• Waiting for Joy: HOW DEPRESSION AFFECTS MARRIED LIFE
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.
If you have additional advice or hope you can share, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.
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Filed under: Mental and Physical Health
4 responses to “Spouse Depressed: What Can You Do?”
(USA) I am finally admitting there is a problem I can not solve on my own. My wife of 5 years is not happy with her job, me or her life. She has ignored my requests to seek counseling; either a pastor or a therapist. Regardless of what I do she finds fault. I am 58 and out of options. Any suggestions are welcome.
(ETHIOPIA) M, Move on, life is too short & there are only too many tomorrows. If there is no way you can change your wife, change your situation. And if it is that important for you to give a marriage another chance I don’t think your age will be as much of an impediment as is your state of mind. So, go! I’m sure, you will get it.
Please, do not believe that marriage can be discarded. Changing “your situation” is not good advice. And changing your wife is not possible. You can walk beside her and show her the love she deserves as a person made in God’s image and you can pray for her. But don’t ever believe that casting someone aside because things are difficult is considered a “solution”.