Has My Wife Really Lost Her Love For Me, Or Is It The Depression?

Question

Asked by MikeM

Has My Wife Really Lost Her Love For Me, Or Is It The Depression?

My wife of 17 years has struggled with depression for the past six years. For the most part, with medication, she kept it well under control. But, in the past year, since I was laid-off from my job, she has gotten progressively worse. Our marriage has been pretty stable through the years. Not perfect, but lots of affection and respect. We're raising two wonderful, healthy children, have a nice home, and live comfortably.

My wife is very smart and beautiful, though she doesn't really have a good sense of just how good looking she is. She's always carried a lot of baggage from her childhood. She's never felt like her parents were proud of her, and that she hasn't lived up to their expectations. She's been successful in her career; makes six figures, which is more than I. She became the main bread winner, though I made decent money too before I was laid-off a year ago. I chose to focus on my children, while my wife pursued her career with a vengeance.

I've always been loving and attentive. I don't run around, nor do I do drugs, or gamble, or anything like that. I'm home nearly every night, and prefer to spend time with my family. Even before I lost my job, I did the bulk of the childcare, house cleaning, and running the kids to all their appointments and activities. I've been a good husband, and very good father.

Everything began to change after I lost my job a year ago. Since that time I've done a ton of home improvement projects to make our home nicer. I dropped 30 lbs by working out at the gym. I'm now 5-11, 174 lbs. About six months ago I discovered my wife was communicating with men through an on-line service. This truly shocked me, because my wife has always been a very moral, decent person, and told me many times she could never have an affair. In my wild imagination, I could not have pictured her doing something like that. I doubt she has had an affair, but the nature of these relationships was disturbing, and she was most certainly on the path to hooking up with someone before I came across some emails when she used my laptop and neglected to close it.

Upon my discovery, she broke down, literally on her hands and knees, and told me she was sorry. She immediately sought out therapy, and we saw a marriage counselor together. She admitted that she had lost faith in me after I became unemployed. She admitted to having a lot of pent-up frustrations with me due to my not being more successful in my career. She said she's tired of having the burden of financial responsibility placed in her lap. She's angry that we're having to spend the money she made through stock options just to make ends meet. She was frustrated that I gained weight after I turned 40. She was frustrated that it took me awhile to medically treat a snoring condition. All of these little things through the years that she kept bottled up, began to come out. She even told me that when I was heavier (about 200 lbs) she was embarrassed to have me come into her work, or go to here company picnics. She didn't tell me that at the time. She only recently admitted that. Had she told me that years ago, I would have dropped the weight in a heartbeat.

She is now in psycho-analysis, and has upped her medication (Effexor). She spends all her time at home reading in our bedroom. She can still function well at work, but that takes all her energy. She's begun to not take care of herself. I can't get her to go to the gym. She'll go days without showering; eats poorly; and has gained some weight herself. She says "what's the point" and that she no longer cares how she looks. She admitted she has no sex drive, though we still have a sexual relationship. Our sex life has gone from lovemaking, to just sex.

She used to be so engaging, and always wanted to do things with the kids and I. Now she just hides away for hours on end. She recently told me that she felt cheated in life, because I wasn't as successful as she thought I would be when she married me. (For the record, when I got laid-off, I was making $72K a year, and had been employed for over 25 straight years). She's never affectionate with me. She rarely tells she loves me, and she seems to have very little patience with me. She has told me that she hates her life right now. She says she is very confused about how she feels about me.

I don't know if she's truly lost her love for me, or if it's just the depression. Would she really be a happy person if I had made $30K more a year? I guess if I would have been willing to sacrifice my time with my children, and become a workaholic, I could have done that. But how would she have reacted to me not being home much?

I'm at a loss for words as to how my beautiful, wonderful wife has seemed to change overnight into someone I hardly recognize on an emotional level. I am devastated by all of this, and have nobody to talk to about it. I walk around all day with a knot in my chest. Friends think I'm sad because of my being unemployed. That is only a small part of it. The unemployment is trumped tenfold by my wife's mental illness, and the toll it is taking on our marriage. Nobody outside of a few family members even knows that my wife takes anti-depressants. And, absolutely no one knows the depth of my wife's sexual issues.

Sometimes I feel like my wife has come to hate me. I keep reading about how depression makes people say things they don't really mean. How can I tell whether it's the depression talking, or if it's really how my wife truly feels. I wish, hope, and pray that she will snap out of this. I try to give her plenty of space, while letting her know that I'm here for her. I've also spoken with my children, asking them to give Mommy a little space and time to herself. Thankfully, they are doing well. However, I'm afraid her depression is dragging me down. I don't sleep well, and no longer take joy in life. Does anyone have any advice? Sorry I rambled on so. I guess I just needed to release a little.

Answer

Hi, Mike. I'm so sorry that you and your wife are going through a tough time right now. I was kind of like your wife at one time, didn't think I loved my husband any more, had built up anger for years because I've always been too afraid of expressing it due to my dad having been a rage-aholic. Is your wife still in therapy, or are both of you still in it? My husband and I have been in couples counseling for years and it's what keeps us honest. It's not always pleasant, but usually a relief to get things out.

Maybe your wife DOES feel overwhelmed with financial responsibility - I know that also happened to me when my husband was out of work for 18 months. He barely looked for work, I think he was depressed, but I was so angry and felt I couldn't say anything because I didn't want to make him feel worse. Thank God she has a good-paying job and that's how I looked at it, or tried to.

I guess what I'm trying to say is all of this can certainly be the result of depression and maybe she needs another medication, more of the same and/or therapy. I'm thinking you probably aren't still in couples therapy because you would be bringing this up there. If nothing else, you could call her doctor and tell him/her about how she's getting worse. You could also go to a therapist yourself for some support.

I wish you all the best in dealing with this. Let us know if we can be of any more help and feel free to write again any time. We have a lot of good listeners here, many of whom have gone through similar experiences. Take care.