Are you depressed? Is your spouse depressed? Do one of you THINK the other is depressed?
I recently had a series of
phone sessions with a woman named Regina (name changed) who lives in
Canada. I asked Regina what her husband thinks is the problem with
their marriage. She explained, "Ted says that the problem with our
marriage is that I’m depressed. He thinks if I wasn’t
depressed, we’d be fine. And so it’s up to me."
It IS common for depression to accompany marital strife. But what causes one spouse to be depressed?
We usually think of
depression as an infliction caused by an INDIVIDUAL’S mental
state. But, as if often the case, the problem is the way we see the
In marriage, although
depression is something that may inflict only one spouse; it’s
usually caused by BOTH spouses. In order to understand what I mean,
let’s consider what it REALLY means to be depressed.
The dictionary definition of "depressed" is: "to press down" or "cause to sink."
And, in fact, a depressed
person feels that someone or something is PRESSING DOWN on them and not
allowing for the relief they seek.
Regina’s husband had
good reason to think that Regina was depressed. She threatened suicide,
had the habit of breaking $200 china against the $5000 breakfront,
sometimes cut the laundry with scissors rather than folding it neatly,
and would break down in tears for no apparent reason. The interesting
thing is (are you ready?): Regina ONLY did these things in front of her
No one other than her
husband ever heard Regina threaten suicide or see her break down in
tears. Her husband never came home to find china pieces or shredded
laundry on the floor. It ALL happened in front of him! And (listen
carefully and try to put the pieces together), it always happened after
There’s much more to
Regina’s circumstances, but here’s the bottom line. Regina
was desperate for her husband’s attention. She wanted to make an
EMOTIONAL connection. She wanted him to be part of her inner life. But
Ted couldn’t connect with Regina. He didn’t know how to
make her feel understood. He didn’t know how to treat her
special, different than everyone else in his life. Ted wasn’t a
bad person. He didn’t do anything wrong. He rarely got upset. But
he was very controlled and detached. And so Regina had all this emotion
PRESSED DOWN inside her but no one to share it with. Ted was there, but
were her way of trying to get Ted’s attention. She just wanted
him to care about her and what she did. So she did things he simply
couldn’t ignore. Of course, this is not really the kind of
attention Regina wanted. But she was frustrated and was trying to
release what was PRESSED inside her.
When one person in a
marriage is depressed, it’s usually caused by a marital dynamic
between BOTH spouses. And the solution is usually a MARITAL solution
not an individual one.
If you or your spouse feels
depressed, you should explore how your relationship might be causing
the depression. As much as one of you might want the other to get
INDIVIDUAL help, it could be that it’s your MARRIAGE that needs
If you want to learn how to release what’s PRESSED inside you
and/or your spouse in a way that works for your relationship, then
enter your name and email below. I'll send you some solutions FREE.