We are a romantic and idealized society. We believe in the powers of love to save anything and everybody. But is this really true? There are many instances in life where love is not enough. In fact, in some cases, it clouds over reality for us to see what truly is. When it comes to relationships, love is essential. Love provides the reason to keep going when all else fails. But there has to be other things in place as well such as mutual responsibility and commitment. Relationships can be great when all is going well. But what happens when there is a bump in the road? Or more like what happens when there is a huge boulder in the road as when one partner suffers from depression?
I began this series on relationships and depression with my previous post entitled, “Is Your Partner Depressed or Just Not That Into You?” I wanted to address some of the questions and themes I see repeatedly from members on My Depression Connection, who come to us for help and guidance about relationships with a depressed partner. As with anything, there are no right or wrong answers, just many shades of gray. You know your partner best and also what is right for you. We can give suggestions and advice but ultimately you are the person who must live with your decisions. So it is best to take the time to reflect upon all facets of the situation including your own well being.
Here are some more thoughts to help you along with this process:
You cannot change anybody but yourself :
This is such a true adage yet there are so many people who completely ignore this wisdom and go about trying to morph their loved one into their ideal vision of a mate. Not going to happen. You are not your partner’s mama or papa. You are not their savior. You are not their therapist. You are supposed to be their equal partner. Yes, we can help, support, and love our significant other. But we can’t change them. They have to change themselves. Your loved one is responsible for their personal growth. Once you start assuming responsibility for changing your partner, then you enable all sorts of irresponsible behaviors. Why should they do anything to help themselves when you are doing it for them? Stop focusing on trying to change your partner and focus on changing you and how you respond.
It can seem very alluring to choose a mate based upon how lost or needy they seem. You are going to be that special someone to change their life. No. Your specialness is not derived from how much you think you are needed. What is going to happen is you will become resentful that the person you are “saving” isn’t exactly thankful for your help. They in turn, will become resentful that you have tried to change them. Entering a relationship to save or change someone is a recipe for disaster and heart break.
When your partner tells you what they want or do not want… listen.
Sometimes your girlfriend, boyfriend, or spouse may tell you things that you don’t want to hear. These hard to hear things may include: