Living day to day in a marriage where your spouse is depressed is not only draining, it also drags you down into their same depths of sadness.
That said, the odds are enormously in your favor for both of you to recover and here, I’ll bring you a little closer to resolution with a guideline to reaching the other side of the difficult bridge of depression.
I can tell you this confidently as my wife and I have crossed that bridge multiple times and in alternating partnerships.
There have been periods where I’ve had to give her the leg up to overcome debilitating sadness and other times where she has returned the favor and been my own support system.
I’m not talking about little blips on the map here. I’m talking about periods ranging from 6 months to a year where one of us was so crippled by hopelessness that getting out of bed and facing the world was in itself exhausting.
When my wife had our second child, her postpartum depression because an inescapable cloud that followed her throughout the day, making life less meaningful and painful upon every new heavy thought that entered her mind.
My own depression was less poignant but just as real, nonetheless. At 33, after sprouting a beautiful family and a life anyone would be proud of, I began to question my own purpose, having thoughts like “Is this all there is to life?”.
Losing The Rational Mind
It’s important to remember that when you’re operating from a place of depression, you are not utilizing your rational mind. Rather, your negative thoughts wisp you away to dark places where hope is lost and only worrisome outcomes remain.
Thoughts like “This is how I will feel forever.” become dominant and override all sense of a positive future where happiness will once again swoop into your day to day life and bring back the joy of all those little things you used to love.
If your spouse is depressed, bear in mind they’re not intentionally trying to weigh you down with difficult emotions. They’re not trying to make your marriage a frustrating and unhappy place to be.
That may sound a bit overdramatic to newbies of depression. A lot of uninformed people think you can simply snap out of it and find yourself again if you only try hard enough. Unfortunately this is not the case.
Recovering from depression in a marriage takes work. It’s a process and patience will be your greatest ally. That said, know that a life worth saving exists beyond this state in your marriage and you will get through this time.
The most important thing you can do is take the following actions and remember to continually put one foot in front of the other as you fight for both you and your spouse’s happiness once a again.
Setting Up Outlets When Your Spouse is Depressed
If your spouse is reluctant or event stubborn about engaging in treatment, understand that this behavior in itself is a symptom of the depression. They feel de-energized by their negativity and this mindset draws them to hopelessness.
They feel that nothing can save them – so what’s the point?
This of course is an illusion brought on by their current mental state.
If your spouse is at this point, it’s your responsibility to line up outlets for their recovery and make treatment as easy a process as possible for them.
This means, finding a therapists local to your area that accept your insurance (or fit into your budget). It means speaking with their primary care physician, explaining what’s going on and exploring medicinal routes and if medication is even appropriate. It means continuously being an ear for your spouse’s concerns and bringing them back to the rational world with feedback that grounds them.
I know this may sound like a lot of work, and it is, but recognize that your spouse is literally being crippled with depression. They need your help – whether they’ll admit to it or not. If they aren’t taking the initiative to make themselves better, then you’ve got to get the ball rolling for them.
Also, remember that these outlets are by no means a quick fix. As I said earlier, patience is the key for seeing this problem through. Know that you WILL reach the other side and you WILL find happiness with and for your spouse again.
The important part of this phase is setting up the kindle to get the recovery fire burning underneath them. This is how you can actively save your spouse when they’re stuck in this state of melancholy.
Open Up Your Communication About the Depression
A lot of couples will try to sweep this kind of problem under the rug. It hurts to talk about a situation that’s so ingrained in your spouse – particularly when it feels like no progress is being made.
Make it a point to find ways to talk to your spouse about their depression. Try to understand their perspective (no matter how warped it may seem) and gently lead them back into the reality of life, highlighting the good that they are missing out on.
Talking it through and putting your own positive reality into their perception will help them begin to see their own depression for what it is – a filter for the good that already exists in themselves.
Because of the enormity of living with a spouse who is depressed, you should find your own outlets and confide in trusted family or very close friends.
By no means should you shout from the rooftops “My Spouse is Depressed!”. However, it is important that you don’t feel so alone in this battle. By speaking with a therapist, family member or close friend, you’ll be giving yourself the outlet and strength to become a more effective and positive coach for your mate.
Don’t ignore your own well-being.
If Things Get Out Of Control
If things get to a point where you become fearful either for the safety of your children or spouse, don’t hesitate to call a therapist directly, your spouse’s primary care physician or even the police.
This is obviously a last resort to protect your spouse from the danger of their own mental illness. However, it shouldn’t be ignored. Don’t dismiss early warning signs like jokes about suicide or more serious remarks about harming themselves. This is a cry for help and should be addressed immediately.
The Next Step
This game plan is a good start for you. It will allow you to bring in the right resources for recovery and give yourself a sense of control of the future of your spouses depression. That said, there’s so much more you can start doing right now if you want to experience relief from this situation even faster.
I highly recommend you read “Let Me Sow Light: Living With A Depressed Spouse” as it encompasses a complete coaching plan for your own sanity as you and your spouse navigate your way out of this situation. Keep your head up and remember that the future is bright with promise. You’ll get there. In the meantime, don’t give up on your spouse or yourself. The happiness waiting for you on the other side is well worth the effort.