My Husband Is Depressed and Pushing Me Away: Depression and Marriage Breakdown

In a partnership, one partner may go through depression or be grieving over a loss that leaves the other partner unaffected.The partner who experiences the grief, relationship problems often feels isolated from his or her partner.

This article explores what a couple should do when one is depressed and the other is not. As it turns out, finding the correct therapist can be the first step towards healing. The therapist will lend a sympathetic ear and offer support without being too directive, and enable his clients to work out their own solutions.

Most people seek out therapists for help with anxiety, depression, or problematic relationships but often, the question is, should the couple both get therapy or should just the person who is depressed?

Individual therapy for just one partner

Many partners prefer to come as individuals for therapy when they want to talk about problems they cannot share with anyone else.

The therapist's office becomes a comfortable, non-judgmental place where the one partner can express her real self freely.

There may be pictures, sayings, and relevant news articles around the room to help clients start talking and bring hidden thoughts to the surface. While the atmosphere is relaxed and there is no pressure on the client to say or do things he does not want to, the expectation is that he will be truthful, and the therapist will also be so.

Without her partner in the room, the person may feel she can more easily open up and get real help.

One woman in Baldwin consulted a therapist about the difficult relationship she had with her older daughter and the impact it was having on her self-esteem. The daughter was hers by a prior marriage, so her husband didn't have the same concerns she did. The therapist used cognitive-behavioral therapy to help the woman see how her behavior had become negative because of her negative expectations and thought patterns.

Therapy helped this woman to make her thoughts clear and improve her feelings about herself. Her relationship with her husband markedly improved, even though the couple hadn't gotten therapy, just the woman herself.

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Grief: when a partner dies

It may seem strange to consider marriage counseling when a partner has died, but it isn't strange when you consider how the human mind works.

A person who has been married a long time still strongly feels the presence of their spouse even after that spouse has died.

One woman whose husband had died about six months previously consulted a marriage counselor. She and her husband had been very close, and she found herself unable to cope with his loss. She still felt that she was married. She felt like her husband was just as real as when he had been alive.

She was able to talk with the therapist about her pain, and the therapist also suggested books and techniques that would help her handle everyday demands like planning her finances and caring for her children. Over time, the woman lost the feeling of being married to her late husband. Although her feelings for him never changed, she was able to move on with her life. In a strange sense, this woman was helped by marriage counseling, in this case when her spouse was deceased and could not come with her.

Sometimes, one partner is depressed and needs treatment while the other partner is not affected the same way. That puts a lot of stress on a relationship.

Marriage counseling and depression: when one partner is depressed but the other isn't

Lack of communication and stress can take a toll on the best marriages. But especially when one partner is very depressed and the other isn't.

Most married couples who go for marriage therapy do it only as a last resort before breaking up. And sometimes, one partner is going to individual therapy for depression. The couple should generally see a different therapist for couple counseling, although some therapists disagree.

A good therapist can help heal old wounds and repair the couple's relationship. In one case in Cincinnati, a couple distrusted each other after the husband had an affair. The woman became very depressed. She sought marriage counseling to see if the relationship could be saved. Together, they began to make changes that brought them closer to each other after therapy. She got individual therapy for her depression from a different therapist than they were seeing as a couple. Marriage counseling for issues that may affect only one partner is often a necessity. There is no way for your spouse to be depressed and for that depression to not affect the relationship in some way.

As you can see, it is frequently important to get couples counseling even when one partner or the other is suffering more than the other. The partnership is always at risk, and never more than when one or the other partner is suffering.

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There was this point in my life when I was dating my now wife where I wasn't sure that I would marry her or not. She doesn't know this. I'm not sure if I can ever tell her.

There were just so many things that I didn't like about her at the time. She had a short-temper at times, we didn't like the same things, she didn't like sport like I did. I just couldn't see us being together, you know?

Yet, I still got married to her and I don't regret it one bit. Why? Because she gave me one thing that totally trumped anything else she could give me. That one thing also counterbalanced all those little, negative things I didn't like about her.

If she didn't have this little thing, I probably wouldn't have married her. What is this, "little thing"? Fulfillment.

What, that's it? Yep. No joke. I'll explain why and how.

So. There are something like 6 billion people in the world. Roughly, 3 billion are women and 3 billion are men. Maybe half of those, you could legally marry one of them right now, if you chose to.

So why would you choose to marry this one person over the rest of the 1.5 billion people out there? What makes your man special? Why did he agree to marry you?

He might have told you, "because you're the one," or "because I love you." Cliches. People never say what they mean, by the way.

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All you do is that you make him feel good. In fact, you make him feel the best. Maybe there were a lot of women who could do the same thing, but you could do it best.

Now, by feel good, I don't mean just sex. I mean that he feels fulfilled by being with you. By "fulfilled", I mean that he feels that you're a woman who can satisfy all of his emotional needs (a lot more powerful than physical needs).

See, the thing is, this is something that has to come out on its own. You can't just ask your man, "what do you find fulfilling in life?" If it happens, it happens.

Maybe you're an awesome cook. He loves eating, because it reminds him of home. When he's at home, he feels secure and safe. Nothing else makes him feel more secure and safe than a plate of your fettuccine carbonara.

But that's only one half of it. He feels that he could also give you fulfillment. There's something he can do for you that he does better than anyone else (or that only he can do) that makes you feel emotionally complete.

So whatever it is, just make sure to look for a look of utter contentment. Whatever makes him have that look, that's probably the reason that he married you.

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Research shows that people unconsciously look for behavior patterns to follow, and once a pattern is established, they tend to follow it unconsciously. Think about when you change jobs or homes, and how difficult it is for the first couple of weeks to remember to drive in the new direction, and you'll get an idea of how strong patterns are. If you understand how habit patterns develop, how strong they are, and what to do about them, you can see mistakes as they happen, or even before you make them, and change what you're doing.

The same thing happens in your relationship. Each first event in dating and marriage creates a pattern you are likely to follow, unless you become aware and consciously change the habits that are problematic. Doing what you've always done is easy, and it reduces stress when it works well. It is only when the old familiar pattern leads to problems that it creates stress. Planning your wedding, for example, creates patterns for dealing with extended family, solving problems together, making financial decisions, and being considerate of each other's feelings. Your first fight lays down a pattern for all future fights, so if you calm down, solve the problem and then make up, you've created a useful format to follow. These patterns are like the first layer of bricks in a wall. Every later brick will build on the pattern laid down at first, so if some of the patterns you've developed in your early relationship are creating problems, it's worth the effort to learn to change them.

We also acquire patterns and habits from our early family and from past relationships. If you have created a habit of fighting instead of working things out, the good news is you can correct them. Maybe you bought the dream: you and this wonderful partner would get married, make a life together, have some really great kids, and life would be wonderful. That's how the romantic movies and happy sitcoms show it, isn't it? But, on some days, maybe your relationship feels more like "The War of the Roses," and you despair of ever working it out.

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There's no need for despair: in thirty years of marriage counseling, I've found almost any problem in a relationship can be fixed, if both partners want to fix it. What gets in the way is lack of skills and destructive patterns that get set up in the first months and years of your relationship.

Guidelines for Relating With Love (Six things to remember)

1. It's not about who's right or wrong it's about solving the problem together. If you try to win the argument, you'll lose something more important -- loving feelings.

2. With listening, caring and the willingness to change, anything in your relationship can be fixed. There's no need to be afraid -- just turn up the love.

3. It's a partnership, silly! Stop struggling, and learn to work together. Focus on teamwork and sharing.

4. Behavior that enhances relationships with people at work, and with your friends, will probably work if you use it with your spouse. Seek to be more rational and less angry or emotional.

5. What goes around comes around, in love as well as life. If you want more of love, try giving more. It will work every time.

6. Be a grownup, not a little kid. Think before you speak and focus on solutions, not problems. Give up whining, complaining and suffering, and step up to taking responsibility and loving more.

Couples can love one another and yet find themselves drifting apart and headed for a divorce. There are steps you can take, with or without the aid of your spouse to get your marriage back into the loving place it once was.

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Academic research shows that 'getting married' is high up on the list of stressful life events. So why should that be? Well, first and foremost there are all the preparations in the lead up to your wedding- so much to do and often so little time to do it in. The day itself will present a new situation for you and it may well take you out of your comfort zone. You and your partner will be the centre of attention all day. You will be meeting and greeting, perhaps making a speech and that in itself can be quite stressful.

So what is stress? Well, stress is excessive pressure that develops when there are too many demands placed on you and getting married is certainly going to give you additional new pressures to deal with in addition to all your usual day to day activities.

While you are in the 'pressure zone' then all is fine but as soon as you enter the 'stress zone', that is when your body will stop working effectively! Contrary to popular opinion, stress doesn't always come from a negative event and it is amazing how many people get this one wrong. So can your wedding cause you stress? In a word 'yes!' But can it be managed? The good news is - 'Yes it most certainly can!'

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Anyone can experience stress and it is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Stress is a normal and natural response however it is worth keeping an eye for some of the warning signs so that you don't end up in the doctor's surgery just before your wedding!


- Stress is different for everyone. It can affect people in all sorts of ways. You may 'binge eat' - or stop eating altogether!

- Make sure you are getting enough sleep and not burning the candle at both ends.

- You may start to feel irritable and get upset for no reason, so listen out to when people tell you that you are getting angry!

- Feeling stressed? Talk this through with your partner, a friend, a good listener or perhaps you might both benefit from some pre-marital counselling. This is certainly nothing to be ashamed of if you do choose to seek counselling. After all, this is a brand new situation for you both and an external third party may help you both to deal with some of the challenging issues that come with marriage

Now Listen Carefully-

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Author's Bio: 

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Divorce does not have to be your only option. Even if it feels as though your relationship can't be saved because of the ongoing conflicts between you and your spouse, it can be. There are techniques that you can begin using today that will not only stop a divorce, but will help also you build a stronger and more loving marriage.

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