How to Support Your Depressed Spouse
My partner has been depressed for months now. He is struggling to find a job that he finds fulfilling and he has fallen into a daily rut, which is pretty toxic. He has stopped working out, he is drinking each evening and is not taking care of himself.
It has become very frustrating to deal with and honestly, I feel like I am living with a slopy roommate or a child. I am tired of cleaning up after him and desperately trying to get him to do anything around the house.
We are fighting on an almost daily basis and I am really struggling to remember the good parts of this relationship. I know that we committed to being together through the good times and the bad time, but it is so tough. I feel like I do not know who I am living with anymore because this is not the person I married.
My partner is toxic to be around and he is either treating me like his personal punching bag or completely ignoring me. I am tired of his passive-aggressive comments and sullen attitude. How long is long enough to say that I tried? How long am I suppose to stay in this situation before I can say that I have done enough? When is enough, enough?
Tired, frustrated, alone and desperate
Relationships are extremely complicated and anyone who says that their relationship is great all of the time and that them and their partner never fight is lying or hiding something much more complicated.
When your partner is depressed the first thing you can do is educate yourself on depression.
Learn what is appropriate support for your partner. Understand the difference between supportive practices and enabling practices. Make sure you instilling a sense of safety for your partner to speak with you about their concerns and ensure that you are able to help them effectively.
Depression is a very serious illness and must be treated as such.
Understanding how to support someone effectively through a difficult time is essential, but it is also critical to understand the warning signs of suicide and what to look out for.
Seek out a mental health professional, for yourself, so that you have the support you need through this difficult time.
Yes, your partner is the one who is struggling, but do not discount your own feelings and struggles dealing with a partner who is depressed. Having a certified therapist scheduled to meet with regularly can be a really safe place for you. It is also really useful for you to have someone to listen to your problems and concerns at this point in your life too. Your partner is probably so absorbed in their own problems that they are not checking in on you and how you are doing.
Seek out couples counselling to deal with communication issues.
You mentioned that you feel like you are your husband’s punching bag and that needs to stop immediately. You should not be victimized and hurt by your partner, it is simply unacceptable. Schedule some couple’s counselling so that you two can address your concerns in a safe space with an unbiased third party present. Couple’s counselling can be a lifesaver during a difficult time in a relationship because sometimes the biggest issue is that when we are stressed we are not able to hear one another properly, if at all.
Make a healthy living environment at home and help your partner to be more healthy.
You mentioned that your spouse has stopped exercising, eating well and is drinking too much. All of these actions are common, but not healthy actions individuals tend to partake in when they are in a depressive state. Help your partner out by creating a healthy home. Buy healthy groceries, cook meals at home, try to work out together and do activities in the evening which do not revolve around alcohol or sitting in front of the television. Go for walks, listen to a podcast together, cook together, play Scrabble or whatever it is you two enjoy.
Help your partner by creating small, daily steps for self-improvement.
This is an area I fail at regularly because I tend to take over and want to control the entire situation. Doing too much too soon will not help anyone. Help your partner to create three goals for each day, one for their physical well-being, one for their professional goals and one to improve their emotional state.
In the beginning, the goals can be super small, for example, going for a walk, applying for one job a day and eating a healthy dinner. Make sure the goals are attainable and not overwhelming for your partner, and be there to support them through it. Hold them accountable, but do not hover over them, give them some space to breathe. If they are not successful at attaining their goals each day, do not be hard on them. Remember that they are probably being really hard on themselves right now, so they do not need additional hardship from others.
Remember the good times you have shared.
When someone is going through a difficult time it can be so easy to see everything as dark and dreary. It is vital to remember the good times of your relationship. Stop focusing on the negative and remember that your partner is simply going through a bad season. Think of this situation as a season, and seasons change regularly. By understanding that this is a challenge that your relationship is going through and something which could arguably make you much stronger, in the long run, it might be easier to deal with.
Write out your frustrations, so that you do not speak them.
Writing or journaling your thoughts, frustrations, fears, and concerns can be really healthy. Having a mental dump at the end of the day can be exactly what you need in order to have a restful night and also avoid a potentially stressful, negative conversation with your partner. Your partner is not in a place where they can support you right now, so dumping your difficulties on them is not going to do anything helpful for anyone.
Have a safe person to talk to about your issues.
It can be easy to become completely enthralled with your partner’s issues, but you must make sure to take care of yourself. If you let your own self-care slip you will not be of any use to your spouse. You might feel like you simply do not have the time to take care of yourself, but do not undervalue the importance of having someone checking in on you. Letting a friend or trusted family member know what is going on is vital. You will need them and them checking in on you can be a great buoy to stop you from getting completely absorbed in the ocean of your partner’s issues.
Life is complicated. Relationships take a lot of work. Remember that hard work, consistency and honesty typically pay off in the long run, so keep your focus grounded. If our relationship was wonderful and perfect all of the time, it would not be realistic, so let’s not lament that our life is not the best right now. Rather than focusing on your have-not’s, focus on your have’s. Remember to think about three things you are grateful for each and every day because you have oh so much to be grateful for.