Depression, Couch Potatoes, & Marriage Problems

QUESTION:

My husband has been at his job for the past nine years, and his boss is verbally abusive. He knows he can’t move up in the company, but he does not want to look for another job. He’s turned into a “couch potato” and it seems like he’s been stuck and grouchy for a very long time. Even though I try not to, sometimes I get caught up in his unhappiness and that makes it hard for me to get things done or have any fun. How can I tell if my husband has depression, and what can I do to help him?

Stuck On The Couch With Hubby  (Got your own question? Ask here…)

 

Dear SOTCWH,

 

FROM JENNIFER

When you marry, you do become intermingled with another person in the most intimate ways imaginable. You share a home, a bed, even bills and tax codes. Marriage really does mean that two people almost become one. It’s why people call their spouses their “other half” or their “better half.”

That also means that your husband’s problems are your problems; and while that’s not really fair, it’s true. So if you find yourself in the position of being the “better” half, you need to be sure you’re loving and taking care of yourself regardless of what your husband is doing.

This may sound harsh because your husband is going through a difficult time, but if you allow his depression to drag you down as well, you can’t help him. So take good care yourself. You’ve probably heard that “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” This is the situation that adage was made for.

 

FROM MAX

Taking care of yourself means being creative about pursuing your own interests, and planning your own activities, so you are fulfilling yourself one way or another. Your own happiness and fulfillment has to come from you. Taking active steps in that direction are crucial to your own wellbeing.

It sounds like your husband has been beaten down, and is having a hard time getting up, and you asked about depression.

There are many types of depression, which is a condition more serious than just feeling sad. While it’s beyond the scope of our advice column, you can sure find lots about depression elsewhere on the web, such as this page about depression at WebMD. Personally, I consider medication for depression a last resort, and one that’s become chronically over-used in our society. But you may want to go ahead with a doctor consult if you’re wondering about your husband’s condition. It may be that something pharmaceutical taken on a temporary basis may help pull him out of his slump.

 

FROM JENNIFER

There are a lot of things you can do as a spouse to help encourage your partner. All day long your husband is being berated by his boss. When he comes home to you, he wants to be built back up. No matter where you are in your marriage, your husband has a base core of love and respect for you. Of all the people in the world, he chose to marry you. He must think pretty highly of you! So shifting your attitude might be the little push he needs to start changing his own.

Start by telling him how much you admire, respect and believe in him, and pretty soon, he’ll be feeling the same way about himself. After all, he’ll be hearing about how great he is from someone that he really cares about—you! So starting today, give your husband one sincere complement each day. If you can’t think of anything, look back over the years you’ve known him and come up with seven true complements to get you through your first week.

Then, be honest with him. Tonight, go out for a special dinner (or make one at home) for just the two of you, and tell him kindly and honestly that you know he’s going through a difficult time and that you want to be more loving and supportive. Then give him his one true complement for today. I know this sounds simplistic, but from what you wrote, I think your husband needs an ego boost. Fortunately he’s married to someone who wants to help him! He’s lucky!

As you re-connect with him, perhaps you can start talking about seeing a counselor or finding a better job, but for now, start with rebuilding his ego and trusting him to take care of himself. As the person he shares a home with, you have more influence over him than anyone else. Make sure you’re a good influence.

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