Depression in marriage is a serious problem. The basis of a health marriage is intimacy, communication and sharing time together.
We want our partners to be there for us to and to lift our spirits. We want to share things and enjoy each other’s company.
If you have a spouse with depression, you may find yourself struggling with the relationship in more ways than one.
Depression in marriage usually means that the depressed partner is not able to be present in the relationship.
He or she may behave in ways that threaten the marriage relationship, such as:
• Withdrawing from engaging with you and your family
• Becoming irritable or angry when you try to approach him or her
• Being defensive when you try to help with his or her symptoms of depression
• Overburdening you with ruminating thoughts and other problems
• Focusing on negative aspects of your relationship or life in general and failing to see anything positive
• Failing to carry through with responsibilities, losing his/her job or being unable or unwilling to complete household chores
• Holding you responsible for his or her misery
How Depression Undermines Marriage
If you are a man with a depressed wife or a woman whose husband is depressed, you may have become so frustrated with the situation that you are less willing than before to make an effort to improve it.
If you are constantly dealing with the rejection and negativity of a depressed husband or wife, it’s only natural to reach a point where you want to distance yourself from the relationship.
This is the unfortunate downward spiral that can occur when one spouse is depressed, and it can ultimately lead to depression in both partners.
The challenge is to recognize depression for what it is so that it does not completely destroy your relationship. The good news is that depression is a treatable condition.
If you are willing to allow the process of healing to occur, you do not have to give up on the relationship.
Dealing With Depression In Marriage: Know Your Limitations
When you love someone who is suffering, you want that person to feel better.
You want this not only so that you can enjoy the person’s companionship and benefit from his or her presence in your life, but also because you want the best for the other person.
Depression is a tricky illness. It convinces it’s victims that life is hopeless, joyless and not worth living.
Unfortunately, there is little you can do to change a depressed person’s mind if he or she is firmly in depression’s grip.
We often try to talk a loved one out of being depressed, sometimes going so far as to tell him or her to “snap out of it.”
This rarely works, and we can become so frustrated that we lose patience and believe that our depressed wife or husband wants to be depressed.
Another Way To Look At Depression In Marriage
Like any depressed person, a spouse with depression did not choose to feel this way.
While it can easily seem like your depressed partner is not trying to do anything about his or her illness, the more likely truth is that he or she does not know what to do or that your loved one is so used to the negative feelings associated with depression that feeling good, even for a short time, is actually threatening to his or her sense of self.
This probably sounds counterintuitive or downright ridiculous, but the truth is that we all get used to certain beliefs about ourselves.
If a person is depressed long enough, depression becomes his or her way of being in the world.
But this can be changed. The thing to realize is that it is your spouse with depression, not you, who is ultimately in charge of taking the steps to change things.
While it is important, and even an advantage, for a depressed person to have the support of a spouse or loved one, that support will not cure depression.
How To Overcome Depression In Marriage
There are many ways that you can help a spouse with depression. In fact, you can even strengthen your marriage by joining with your husband or wife in the battle against depression.
The following guidelines are good ways to start. Just remember that you cannot help a person who is not ready live a depression-free life.
1. Learn As Much As You Can About Depression
If you don’t understand depression as an illness, you’re bound to misinterpret your depressed spouse’s behavior, and you will probably also have unrealistic expectations about how he or she should handle depression.
2. Eat A Healthy Diet Together
A balanced diet is one key to keeping brain chemistry balanced.
3. Exercise Together
Exercise increasing endorphins, which lift depression and boost mood and energy levels.
Try to get your depressed husband or wife to take walks with you or perhaps you can attend a yoga class together.
If he or she has enjoyed a particular sport, like tennis or basketball, you can try to encourage participation in that activity as well.
4. Allow Your Spouse To Say No When He Or She Feels Overwhelmed
It’s important to take small steps toward increasing activity and time spent with others, but too much at once can be overwhelming and is likely to cause a depressed person to retreat entirely.
Agree on a manageable amount of social interaction and time spent together, but also allow your spouse the down time needed to cope with the depression symptoms that he or she is experiencing.
5. Don’t Enable Depressed Behavior
If your depressed husband or wife is behaving in a way that brings you down or hurts you emotionally, you don’t have to stay in the crossfire.
Instead, distance yourself temporarily. Spend time with friends or family members that lift your spirits or do something that makes you feel good, even if you have to do it alone.
Over time, if your relationship is strong enough, your spouse will miss being with you and will begin to recognize the negative behaviors that are driving you away.
6. Go To Counseling Together
Even if you are not depressed yourself, if your spouse is depressed, your marriage is depressed.
Going to counseling together can help you cope with the challenges of living with a depressed person, and it can also help you understand the issues that are causing your husband or wife to be depressed so that you can both develop strategies to overcome them.
If you need more help with understand or managing depression, the “End Your Depression” ebook can help.
The book provides detailed information on the causes and symptoms of depression as well as treatment strategies that you can tailor to your individual experience.