Q&A: My wife is depressed and it’s been a living hell for us – What to do?

Hi Maj,

My wife is depressed.

She was diagnosed with depression 6 years ago and it’s been a living hell for us.

We have three children and I’m about to throw in the towel and give up.

I don’t understand why everything has to be a battle, day in and day out.

My wife says she’s been declared healthy but is still on medication, however only a small dosage, but she says it makes her not want sex and so we never have sex anymore.

She’s always scolding me and nothing I do is right.

If I come home with flowers she’s happy for 5 minutes and then she starts being hostile towards me again.

I do love her very much and I have a hard time imagining my life with out her and our kids.

Do you have any advice?

Best,

X

My wife is depressed – What to do?

My wife is depressed and it's been a living hell for us - What to do?

Dear X,

So good that you write!

Because many people tend to mistakenly believe that when one person in a relationship suffers from depression, then it’s only that person who needs help.

However when one person in the relationship changes, one way or the other, then the rest of the family reacts to it.

In your case it sounds like you’ve hit a very unfortunate behavioral pattern.

I’d advise you to have an honest talk with your darling wife about how much you love her but that you’re no longer able to live with her hostile behavior and thoughts about you and that you together have to come up with a solution, that it’s not only her problem.

It is “your” problem – and you will fix it together!

Ask her what she thinks about you and remember to be open and not to take it personally, even though it can be very hard.

It sounds to me as if your wife’s thoughts about you are very negative so she ends up attacking you all the time.

When people behave like this, yelling and screaming at their spouses, in many cases within earshot of the children, it indicates that there’s a problem with that person’s thinking.

Because of the way she is treating you, I imagine that your wife is suffering emotionally inside.

But listen to her.

Talk to her with a caring, loving and open heart.

Don’t accuse or condemn her for her thoughts about you.

They’re there and it’s more important that you look at these thoughts together than for you to defend yourself or counterattack her.

You need to get rid of these negative beliefs she’s created about you!

The best way to do that is by inquiring about what she really thinks about you.

If you think she’s uncaring or unloving then think back and see if you can come up with 3 situations where you could have been more caring or loving and tell her about them.

Tell her those and say that you’re incredibly sorry and that you’ll try to be more caring or loving in the future.

 

A conversation like that can move mountains in her way of thinking.

And remember that she’s also your mirror.

Within her reflection, you can figure out how to become a better person and apologize for bad behavior and I’ll promise you that this kind of conversation will help you both to heal.

But most importantly, listen to her.

Receive what she says without attack, defense or closing off, criticism is a gift.

This exercise is taken from the book “The Work” by Byron Katie.

I will also recommend that she or the both of you see a professional and trained relationship therapist. From what I can read in your email to me, you could benefit from working with a trained Gottman therapist.

They adress the negative beliefs and they have exellent training for “turning the things around”.

Thinking badly of your partner and criticism is one of the “four horsemen” in Gottman therapy, and many couples experience this. You can read more about it here:

The Four Horsemen: Criticism <—

I will also recommend, that you try to tell her about the relatively new therapy form Metacognitive Therapy.

I´m many cases you do not need more then 6-8 sessions  before you are 100% free of depression – and you can even get over phone or Skype!

You can find a list over trained metacognitive therapist from all over the world here:

http://mct-institute.co.uk/mct-registered-therapists 

My wife is depressed - Maj Wismann helps

Love,
Maj Wismann – Clinical sexologist and relationthip therapist with own clinic since 2006 – Read more about Maj here <—

 

 

 

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*** Have you been in a situation like the frustrated man who is asking “My wife is depressed – what can I do to help?”? Have you experienced your partner being depressed or/and what did you do about it? Please share your experiences (and lessons) in the comments below. Remember, your comment might help someone else! And as always, thank you for sharing.

Please do remember that relationship issues are very vulnerable topics, so please keep your words positive and loving. Thank you. Please remember to keep a nice tone. ALL negative comments will be deleted immediately. I wish to create a positive and supporting space where we can support each other, and I therefore have a zero-tolerance policy towards rudeness, condescension, negative inputs and disrespect.

2 Comments

  1. Austin mcclendon

    I need that in my life my wife and are having issues right now and i want her back

    Reply
  2. Henrik V Blunck

    Darn good advice, Maj. I do hope X and his wife succeed.

    Taken from a friendship perspective, I fully understand the perspective X has. I had a friend who constantly went into black mode, and that can be quite burdensome. Luckily that was ‘only’ a friendship that went sour, and I can only imagine how much more personal it would be when it was in a relationship context.

    I did have a relationship a couple of years back – three ½ in fact – where the lady had a very sharp tongue, and she never held back, even in the company of others. Luckily it wasn’t a marriage, so it was easier to end as there were no kids involved. But it was a sad thing, because if she had been honest about her diagnosis, we could have moved forward. But sometimes we need to realize that when everything we do is never quite enough, then a breakup is inevitable. If ever combined with a rather stressful job, it can literally drain you of all your energy – and even though I admit I could have done more, I simply wasn’t quite there for the long haul under the given circumstances.

    The best part of the whole thing was that we could still communicate afterwards, which was also agreed upon before we ever started, because she was the mother-in-law of my eldest niece at that time. She got married to her son after we ended our relationship, but that couldn’t last because of different circumstances, but we did keep our word, and that gave her ample time to consider what she wanted in life. Her pride had the best of her, and she will never recover as long as she won’t admit her part in relationships going bad.

    If that ever happens, she will make some guy so happy, as she does have many excellent qualities. However, you can’t force people into acknowledging what they won’t admit, and so you need to move on at times. 🙂

    Reply

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