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KansasTherapist, LSCSW
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 566
Experience:  17 years experience with depression, abuse, and borderline.
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My wife suddenly told me she is depressed and not happy,

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My wife suddenly told me she is depressed and not happy, she's just comfortable, two days ago (I'm assuming at this point she means she's not happy with us/our marriage, but she could also mean with life as a whole). I am totally shocked by this because as of a few days ago, everything seemed fine.
If I may detail my situation further, I am currently deployed overseas. We are both in the military, so we both are very aware of what each does/goes through on a daily basis. My wife and I have been together for almost 8 years, and almost 7 of those married. I'm 34, she is 30. We have two sons (my stepson is 8, and my youngest just turned 6). We rarely ever argue. To me, we've always had a very loving, caring and wonderful relationship, not only between ourselves, but with our children. We have, in my mind, a strong physical and emotional relationship. Since I left home 7 months ago, we have communicated on a daily basis either via facebook, skype, or phone calls. We have always kept each other in the loop on what's been going on here and there. Two days ago, I noticed that she was being somewhat distant with how she was responding to me, so I asked her if something was wrong. She said yes, and with that she pretty much blurted several things out at me, all at once. First, she said she's not happy, but just comfortable. (I didn't really interrupt her, I just let her talk and I listened as best I could). She said she's been depressed, and started going to a mental health professional since back in January (this was the first I knew anything about that). She also said that she's been holding things in and not telling me about them because she feels that she can't talk to me, that she doesn't like the way I react. The story behind this is that I have a temper and can be quick to be irritated....the very few times we have argued, my temper would flare and I would raise my voice and become emotional/irritated. Almost every argument we have ever had was over our son/my stepson, because I would discipline him (sometimes a bit harshly, ie: spankings, raising my voice at him) when he would get in trouble and she did not like the way I would sometime discipline our son. I love my stepson very much, and he's a really good kid. He was recently diagnosed with ADHD, and up until then I thought he was a little lazy as far as not paying attention or constantly forgetting things he was corrected/disciplined on. And I honestly feel that I discipline my younger son the same way, just not as often as he does not get into trouble as much. Anyways, my wife has told me she's never been around a man with a temper before (both her dad and stepdad are very, very mild-mannered and laid-back men), and she doesn't know how to deal with. In her words, "I dont like talking to you about things and it maybe because of how you react again I've never been around anyone who is like that and I really think its pushed me away in a bad way...and if I cant get around it thats going to causes us a lot more problems." She finished by saying she doesn't know if we're going to make it, but she wants to fight for us, wants to fight for me, and she wants me to fight for her, for us and the kids. And no matter what happens, she wants us to be there for the kids. This has all caught me by surprise, because I didn't see any of this coming. As of a few days ago, I was still getting the "I love you and miss you very much, can't wait for you to come home" responses that I've been getting since I've been gone. She had even been recently told me, like she has many times in the past, that she bragged to her coworkers and friends how awesome of a husband and dad that I am. We also had been very recently discussing intimate and sexual topics between the two of us, and trips/family activities we should do when I get back home, as we have normally done. My questions are, what I am missing here? What could have caused the sudden change in behavior and attitude about our relationship? It's like she had some life-altering revelation about herself. I am terribly worried about my wife, our family and marriage. I know I posted a lot of information, but I feel the more I can put out there, the better the opinions I will receive.
KansasTherapist : Hello
KansasTherapist : It isn't common for women to struggle with anger, unexpressed feelings, and depression.
Many women are frightened by men's anger and the potential violence it implies. Even though you may have never been violent with her, physical punishment of your children is likely very unsettling to her. That has, apparently lead her to, as she says, hold things in. She may also has her own feelings of anger simmering. Most people in that situation, where they feel powerless, fearful, and angry, become depressed. When a person is depressed, the most overwhelming feelings they experience is hopelessness. It is a struggle to believe anything can be worked out, and that there is even less point in expressing their feelings. I certainly don't want to suggest that this is all your fault. It is likely your wife grew up believing her didn't have a right to her feelings or that she should express them. Noe she has take a huge step forward by finally telling you all this she's been holding in. Now that the door is ope, there are some steps you can take. You don't say where you're deployed, but if you have access to a mental health professional there, you can talk to him or her about your situation. If that isn't available to you, you could ask your wife if she would sign a release so that her therapist could talk to you, not about her, but to give you some insights into what you need to do to make things better.
One suggestion I can make that helps with communication is to avoid trying to talk when you don't feel you can control your temper. When you feel yourself becoming irritated or raising your voice, to say you need a time out an will come back to the discussion in a few minutes when you're calm. This will help both of you to communicate your thoughts and feelings without escalating.
I hope these ideas are helpful to you.
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