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Dr. Bonnie
Dr. Bonnie, Psychologist
Category: Relationship
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Experience:  Experienced in counseling all age persons on relationship issues.
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My husband is 30 and has been dealing with depression since

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My husband is 30 and has been dealing with depression since his teens. I am 29, very calm and always looking at the logical, optimistic side. He was on Paxil and then quit cold turkey 6 years ago. He seemed fine until 2 years ago when he started judging his friends harshly, stopped going out as much and about once a quarter tells me that we should get a divorce because I can do better and he is holding me back. This year, we have been talking about him seeing a therapist. He had an appointment scheduled but he canceled a week before but did not tell me until after. I have been doing my best to urge him to go without pushing. The last couple of weeks, he has been more depressed and keeps telling me "you don't get it." He has told me that he is going to make an appointment with a new therapist but he hasn't done that yet.    Last night, we got into a dispute about how rough he was or was not being with the dog. He walked out and drove around for an hour. When he came back, he had said that he had decided to go live with his mom for a short time while he figures things out. He said he would get help and he needs to focus on him. I was understanding but told him that was not necessary and that we could work on it together. As the conversation continued, the time frame was just a weekend to a month to a few months to divorce. One of his reasons that we are heading for divorce is because we are more best friends than husband and wife. I have been wondering that for a while because I feel like I am taking care of him and his mental issues and not getting the attention I need in return.    For example, last year we did not celebrate our anniversary because he canceled. I made a deal that if he took me out for Valentine's day, I would call it even. I made the reservations, the night before we had friends over and he drank himself silly. I went to dinner with my mom. I am step mom to his 9-year old son and my husband has never acknowledged me on Mother's Day. I am not asking my step-son to but my husband to let me know that he understands and appreciates me.    The little things are great though. We share chores. When we rent movies, he picks things that I would like instead of his movies. We have the same sense of humor and same goals where it counts.   We work together as a unit great and we are the best of friends. My problem is that I am trying to be supportive and make the marriage work but I am getting tired of being his mom and feeling bad for being a good wife and making him feel like less of a husband because of it. I know he is not going to live with his mom and that this is just an attention getter but part of me wants him to so he follows through on something. I don't get phased when he talks about divorce anymore. And I feel like I am going through the motions when he does saying things like, "We are good, life is rough but we can deal with this." Is this something we can work on or is this something that will continue and fester in me until it becomes resentment?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. Bonnie replied 6 years ago.
Hi, Sorry it has taken so long for you to get an answer. There are not as many relationship experts on JA as there are mental health. In the future, you will get a quicker answer of you post there.

These concerns you have will eventually become resentments if they are not brought out in the open and resolved.. The 2 of you can probably discuss them highlighting the things you like about your relationships and the things you wish would change. It is unfortunate that the "D" word comes up so easily and quickly. The first thing you should do is agree to avoid that word and get to more constructive problem solving. Then, if you can agree on this, make an appointment with a marriage counselor as soon as possible. (He should also work on his depression at the same time). Talk out the expectations and desires which are unfulfilled with a mediator present who is neutral.

The answer to your question is it is something you can work but with the support of a professional who can observe your interaction, teach some communication techniques (i.e., the paraphrasing technique), mediate the conversation and even help you to make decisions about the future of your relationship. It is worth taking this step before deciding on separation.

Hope this helps and thanks for trusting JA.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
How should I bring up marriage counceling? Would he think that I am taking focus away from him and his problem and making it more about me?

It is already like pulling teeth to have him make an appointment with a regular psychologist and he thinks that people who go through marriage counceling are doomed for divorce.
Expert:  Dr. Bonnie replied 6 years ago.
If he is bringing up divorce then I think it is fair game to bring up couples counseling, a much more constructive solution to the problem. Couples counseling would indicate to him that you are willing to take 50% of the responsibility for the solution to your relationship problem. This may (or should) make him feel more positive about the intervention. I know his motivation for doing things like making appointment is decreased. That is a symptom of the depression. He may still need your help with that but the goal can be for him to become less dependent on you in the long run. That is the kind of thing that can be worked out in counseling. The couples counseling does not preclude him getting help for his depression. Maybe his primary MD would prescribe an SSRI again.
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