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Friday, January 18, 2013 Bobby, Community Member, asks

Q: Depression in the home

My wife is dealing with depression. About a year and a half ago she quit work and it was a very stressful time in our lives. I encouraged her to quit work because she was so unhappy with work but when she got home she just did nothing, she did have a small job selling accessories to friends but outside of that she would veg in front of the TV. I saw this as laziness and just tried to be positive and tried to get her engaged in doing things. Then one night she announced that she was not happy and wanted to seek marriage counseling. I set the appointments up and we were off...Quickly into counseling the therapist decided that she needed medication to help her. Which she got and her attitude and demeanor was so much better. Now the problem is she hasn't been to therapy and wants out of the marriage. I have not talked with her about the depression and have been quiet during this whole time that has lead to me having lots of guilt on my part. I have continued to go to therapy and talk about what's going on. I do not want to get a divorce, because i feel that the problems will go with her and I will not be able to help her, but honestly I'm not helping her now....but I want to change that. Should she be in therapy? If therapy tells her that I'm the reason for the depression then I'll help her pack and move on with my life. I know that I'm not the reason for several reasons. 1. she has a family history of alcoholism and depression. 2. She wants out but lives her life currently like nothing is wrong, we are more like roommates in the fact that we are not affectionate with one another but we still sleep in the same bed and tell each other that we love one another. Another thing to note is she is an introvert, something that she did not tell me about until therapy, which was something that I read wrong and thought she just didn't like my friends or that she was just lazy. We have a 4 year old daughter that is amazing. She is probably the reason that we have not separated. So what should I do? The therapist has recommended that I ask her to seek therapy with another therapist. The reason is that my therapist thinks that my wife sees the therapist on my side. Does that sound right? Is there hope? I'm tying to save the marriage but I feel like it's slipping away each day....HELP!
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Answers (2)
Jerry Kennard, Health Pro
1/22/13 7:58am

Hi Bobby,


Thanks for providing such a detailed summary of your situation. This is one of those iceberg situations where you, and the rest of us (including, I suspect, your wife) can really only see what's above the surface unless we are prepared to go deeper. Therapy, of course might help to facilitate this process, but it could take quite a while, will need time, patience and motivation on the part of those in therapy to see it through.


Your wife asking for a separation/divorce acts as a kind of ultimatum, but it's possible it is more an outward expression of her frustration at the way things are. People who are depressed typically look to their immediate circumstances as a source of problems. We're hard-wired to seek explanations for what we can't explain and sometimes what we believe is the problem and/or solution is nothing of the sort, despite the fact it appears rational at the time.


In saying this I don't want to infer any difficulties in your relationship are principally due to your wife. I'm sure you'll appreciate the dynamics of a relationship are quite complex. But while things are unsettled, and if depression is a feature of this, it may be possible to agree a kind of truce in which therapy for your wife takes the lead (assuming she'll agree) and you both agree a strategy to keep things on an even keel while the process is ongoing. Harmony is of course important for your child.


The outcome of all this is unknown, but you appear to accept this in principle. Time and patience seem to be important at the moment. I wish you both well.

Bobby, Community Member
1/22/13 3:08pm

thank you for your response and I agree with what you are saying.  I'm not innocent in any way.  I know that my silence has caused a lot of problems and for her to make these conclussions.  I'm just so scared to talk with her about the depression for some reason, be it I'll find out about something that I don't want to know about, or that she just really has a dislike for me... but I can't keep living this way.  I can't keep silent any longer, if there is something I need to hear about than so be it.  If going to therapy she concludes still that I'm the reason for the depression, again, I will help her pack and be supportive of her future endevors.  I just feel that if she really was so unhappy with me that she would have left long ago and put herself first, but she is scared and probably wondering where have I been.  Patience is something that I have a lot of and I'm not looking for a quick turnaround, just looking for hope and something that will make the both of us happy regardless of what that solution will be. 

Judy, Community Member
1/18/13 5:45pm

I'm sorry you're having to go through this.  It sounds like you've tried your best to help your wife, but in the end, she's the one who has to do the work.  I'm sure, too, that you're not the cause of her depression; my guess is that she's projecting anger from her childhood, perhaps, onto you - I say this because I did the same thing.  I think your therapist was wise to suggest that she see another therapist because it doesn't work if one person sees the couples therapist alone, as the partner will then have the feeling that the therapist is on the other person's side, as you said.  My husband and I were in therapy together, but I also had my own therapist, so it didn't bother me in the least when she suggested he could use some individual sessions with her.


I hope your wife will come to see that your relationship is worth saving, both for your sake and your daughter's, as well.  Things don't have to go this way, but you can't do the work for both of you.  Take care of yourself and be prepared for the worst, while hoping for the best!  Let us know if we can help further.

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By Bobby, Community Member— Last Modified: 01/22/13, First Published: 01/18/13