Dear husband, we need to have a real conversation.
You are the first to admit that lately things have changed for you. Things that used to be simple for you suddenly feel impossible and require so much energy.
Getting out of bed is hard. It feels so much better to stay in bed and avoid it all.
Tackling household projects and chores just feels like too much. So, you ignore them.
Taking care of yourself by eating healthy and exercising doesn’t sound appealing at all. But, boy, do chips and salsa, brownies, and sitting on the couch sound like comfort.
Your new instinct to avoid the challenging things only makes you feel worse as your to-do list grows longer by the day.
Everything annoys you — people, music, movies, work, weather.
Everything for you feels extra heavy right now.
You are overwhelmed, frustrated, and scared.
I get it. Depression has been a constant companion in my life for so long. But this is new for you. Depression is a stranger in your own life— an unwelcome stranger.
Depression robs you of your joy, your lightness, and your ability to fully experience your life.
It also robs the people around you: people like your wife, your children, your friends, your coworkers, and your family. Depression eats away at who you are, leaving only a shadow of the man we all love— the man we still love.
Maybe the stress of the pandemic has finally caught up to you.
Maybe the challenges of aging have taken their toll on you.
Maybe the struggles of parenting children have become overwhelming.
Maybe depression has always been there but you’ve been able to cope with it and keep it at bay.
Whatever the reason, depression has seeped into your life, causing you to change right before our eyes. You snap at me and the children. You are quieter than usual around your friends. You eat and sleep for comfort — turning inward instead of to those around you. Work tasks bog you down and by the end of your workday, you are completely empty.
You have depression and that is OK. None of this is your fault.
But, the most important thing to know about depression is that you can’t just ignore it when it finds its way into your life.
Depression can be addressed and you can find your way back to the person you used to be. We want you back in our lives — the real you. We miss you and I know you miss yourself, too.
It can be scary to reach out for help. Terrifying, actually. The fear of being judged, the guilt of needing support, and the worry that it won’t actually change anything for you can be overwhelming.
But help for depression can be life-changing and life-affirming. Medication can help to bring balance and make things feel not so hard in your day-to-day life. Therapy can help you to learn ways to cope with depression. Talking about it with others can help you to see that you are not alone in this battle — lots of men face the same challenges.
You are not weak or broken. You are not less of a man. You have nothing to be ashamed of for having depression.
But, you can’t ignore it. You have to address it so that you can find happiness again.
It’s time to reignite the spark that makes you who you are.
It’s time to get back what depression has taken from you.
You deserve to feel better.
You can do this.
We can do this together.
This piece was originally published 02/10/2021 on His View From Home: https://hisviewfromhome.com/husband-is-depressed/
Remember the early days of your relationship with your spouse?
Today, if you are like me, you and your partner are mere versions of your younger selves, focused now on things like:
The reason so many couples find themselves feeling distanced from each other at this stage of life is simple. We all have a tendency to put our romantic relationship on the back burner after marriage because we think all of the other needs and responsibilities are more pressing. The kids need you. Work needs you. Your aging parents need you. The youth sports teams needs you. Your friends need you. Your house needs you. Afterall, this is the person you are spending the rest of your life with so they will always be there beside you. It’s ok to put your relationship on the back burner right now. How exciting will it be to spend your golden years of retirement with them?
What if you never get to enjoy those years? What if you make it to retirement but after spending decades focusing on others, you realize that you no longer know your partner. Worse yet, what if you realize that you no longer like each other? What if something terrible happens and you don’t get to make it to retirement age?
Sure, putting things on the proverbial back burner can work for a little bit. But, what happens if you leave something on the actual back burner? Eventually it dries out, maybe burns, and becomes a failure.
Marriages are the same.
It’s time to take your relationship off the back burner and start nurturing it now, before it’s too late.
Here are 9 ways to reconnect with your partner and put the focus back on your relationship without compromising your other responsibilities:
1. Date your partner
I cannot stress enough the value of dating your partner. While you may not be able to afford to hire a babysitter for at least one night each month, you can certainly find a way to creatively date your partner.
Maybe it means taking a day off from work during the day while kids are at school or at grandmas house so you can be alone. Maybe it means working out together at the gym while the kids are in the child care room. Maybe it means simply shutting off the tv, ignoring the dishes, and having a date at home after the kids go to bed. Maybe it means using your money to pay for a sitter and then having an inexpensive date while you walk around Target together.
It doesn’t have to be fancy, romantic, or cost money. You just need to make time for the two of you.
2. Hold staff meetings
You and your partner are essentially running a business. You’re managing a household and that inevitably means there are things like bills, repairs, and maintenance that need to be addressed. If you have children and/or pets, then you also have medical appointments and logistical considerations for others. Let’s not forget about things like laundry, meal prep, shopping, and cleaning.
Would you ever expect a company to run effectively without having some type of formal and consistent check in?
Marriages are the same. Schedule 30-minutes each week to check in with each other on the business aspects of your relationship. This can be a great time to compare calendars, identify breakdowns in communication, plan for next steps, and highlight accomplishments and sources of pride. You can also combine this with a date night — just make sure it’s only a portion of the date!
3. Don’t expect mind reading
So often we fall into the trap of expecting our partner to know us so well that they know what we are thinking and what we need. That’s not fair to your partner or to you.
Communicate your needs with your partner. If you come home expecting your partner to have started dinner but you never asked for that to happen, it’s not fair to then be angry or hurt that it didn’t happen.
Don’t let missed opportunities for communicating your needs lead to built up resentment.
4. Learn your love language
So often members of a couple feel as though their partner is not showing them love. In reality, though, they aren’t speaking their partner’s love language.
My partner may bring me flowers and little gifts, thinking that I know it means he loves me. But, we have learned that Gift Giving is not one of my love languages. Instead, Acts of Service (things like unloading the dishwater or making a doctor’s appointment for the kids or taking out the trash) make me feel loved.
Get on the same page with each other by reading Dr. Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts so you not only know how to recognize your partners expression of love for you but so that you can also more effectively show love to your partner.
5. Take vacations alone
Once you’ve been able to make date nights or date days a priority, the next step is to find a way to take vacations together. This could be a big vacation like a few nights in the Caribbean or traveling through Europe or it could mean you rent an AirBnb or cheap hotel room the next town over for one night.
The location doesn’t matter; what matters is that you have the opportunity to step out of your everyday life just the two of you and reconnect away from the normal routines.
6. Try new things together
Remember what it was like going through all the firsts in your relationship? There is something exciting about experiencing something new with your partner and we lose that spark the longer we’ve been together.
Consider taking up new hobbies or trying new things together. The options are limitless- golfing, dance lessons, hiking, reading a new book together, trying a new restaurant together.
The actual thing you do doesn’t matter. The key is for it to be something new for both of you.
7. Do things that your partner enjoys
It’s very rare that two members of a partnership enjoy all of the same things. Is there something that your partner enjoys that you find extremely boring? Find a way to try to do some of those things with your partner.
Learn that video game they love to play. Go to the concert of the band they really like. Go to that Indian restaurant even though you don’t like that type of cuisine.
Make them feel valued by showing an interest in the things that make them happy.
8. Physical connections
Don’t wait for there to be a natural physical spark between the two of you. With kids and work and responsibilities and pressures and competing schedules, it’s very likely that by the time the two of you reach your bed at the end of the day, the last thing you have the energy for is sex. Those are exactly the times when you need to make a priority though.
What would happen if the next time you found yourself with a fleeting thought of physical connection, you actually pursued it and put sleep or that pile of laundry off for a little bit longer?
What kind of impact would it have on your relationship if your put physical connection a bit higher up on your list of priorities?
9. Lean into each other, not away
When things get hard many couples lean away from each other. They complain and vent to their friends when their partner does something hurtful or irritating. They ignore opportunities to communicate directly with each other about concerns, instead leaving their relationship open to built up feelings of resentment and anger.
Lean into each other during those difficult times. Have those challenging and uncomfortable conversations with each other.
It’s what we do in almost all other aspects of our life, right? We have difficult conversations with our children, our friends, our coworkers, other parents on the sidelines at our kids games, and even strangers on social media. So, why won’t we do it with our partners? Is it maybe because we are leaving our relationship on the back burner, assuming we’ll have time to address it in the future?
The time to strengthen your marriage is now and you can find ways to reconnect meaningfully with your partner without taking your attention away from the other important relationships in your life.
Wouldn’t those younger versions of yourselves want you to make your marriage a priority now?
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Relationships take effort and need to continuously be renegotiated over the years. These articles explore friendships and romantic partnerships - both their importance and how to improve them.