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Depressed spouse - struggling husband

Community Member

I am a husband of a chronically depressed wife. She has been chronically depressed for about 12 years and started when her father passed away ans she has now got the financial burden of having to look after her mother. I think the issues stem from her child hood and the mental abuse her parents dished out to her plus she has a myriad of auto immune diseases that have curtailed her quality of life.

Our marriage has fallen apart over the last 6 years and we have been to various marriage counsellours to try fix our relationship. She admits she is chronically depressed but refuses to go get help and she sees it as a big sign of weakness. She also bottles things up and does not communicate even though Im a good listener. She hardly shows any signs of initmacy and our sex life has basically disapeared that I dont even bother initiating sex for fear of being rejected. She withdraws from everything and seems to go into the bottomless pit of despair.

I realise that I cant fix her but also now feeling bad that I am failing as a husband as I have been worn out with trying to support her but I just dont have the energy to go on which is making the situation worse as I am so frustrated and grumpy and I dont make make the situation any easier for the 2 of us.

She only seems to improve when we are on overseas holidays so she can temporarily forget about her worries, we have spent a lot of time doing competitive sport and doing the same events but our sporting interests have changed, luckilly we dont have children but then again that could be the glue that binds us together.

I feel like I'm the one that is putting in the effort to save the marriage and would hate to split up with the love of my life and best friend for the last 26 years but marriage counselling hasnt really worked except for a short time where the 1 counsellor acknowledged that my wife does have some issues and got her to go back for some individual counselling sessions but my wife discontinued as I dont think she liked what the counsellor told her. I went back to the same counsellor about a year later after another marriage breakdown and was told that my wife wont change unless she got help.

How long should I keep trying or is it time to move on? When do you know when the relationship is unsalvageable?

3 Replies 3

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member
Sending much love and hugs to you JimmyM.

I have never had to fight thru all you are/have. But can definitely feel compassion for you in such a situation.

You sound like you have never given up trying to help her and your relationship, lucky lady.

The situation makes me thinj of the saying, "you can lead a horse to water, but you can not make it drink"... you can only do so much. And once they do not wish to accept help or take any of the suggestions of help on... you then have to think about your own mental health also... like they say, 'u must put your oxygen mask on before helping others'.

I feel so deeply for you in such a situation... and I truly hope she accepts help and/or whatever other help she may need to keep such an amazing caring long suffering man in her life, they rare nowadays.

Keep fighting the tiring fight best you can... don't give up on yourself either xx

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello JimmyM, welcome and thanks for coming to the forums and understand how you are feeling as I've been on both sides and neither are pleasant or easy to overcome.

If I can say, the thought of having kids to bind the marriage together in a situation like this is not necessarily a good option, and I say this because who is going to change the nappy, prepare the food and take them for a walk, also it's possible PND may develop, not that I'm qualified to say, but my wife had it with our second son.

You can't force her to go to counselling because it won't achieve anything, and most of the time she may still refuse, and with all good intent you may decide to carry out her wishes to try and encourage her to seek help, but doesn't guarantee a positive result, it didn't with me.

Your wife needs to feel comfortable opening up to a counsellor because if the blame is put onto her straight away, then it's going to take heaven and earth to go back, I only say this when we went to marriage counselling, however, if you can agree to talk about what's been written down on some paper then you might have a chance.

When you are overseas the situation can change, there are no familiar faces, the phone doesn't ring and her worries are temporarily suspended, making you believe she's turned the corner only until she returns home.

I know the situation you're in and hope we can still talk.


Community Member

Hi JimmyM,

I just wanted to reach out to you and let you know that you are not alone in the struggle of supporting a depressed spouse. I am a wife, trying desperately to support a depressed husband and I too get angry and frustrated. He has completely shut me out and refuses to speak to me. We are still early in the journey, and I can't even imagine how you have managed to keep going for so many years. But sometimes, I guess if the love is strong enough, you just find a way to keep going.

My husband and I have been married 15 years, but I have known him for 20 years. We have two children. He says that the only reason he is still here, is because of them. So in some ways, children can keep you together. But it also adds the complication of having the situation affect the children so much that it breaks my heart.

Like your wife, my husband was resistant to get help for a long time. And in the end, he sought help on his own, even though I pleaded with him many times to go. So he now thinks that because all I did was plead with him (I didn't take him myself) that I didn't help and support him and therefore he thinks I have been unsupportive. But he had to want the help himself. Now that he is seeking help, he still seems resistant to try to change, but I can only hope that he will continue to seek counselling, that his meds will help and that over time things will improve.

I wish I had some advice for you. I can only imagine trying to decide what to do in your situation is heart breaking. I think it is important that you seek support for yourself, so that you have the strength to keep supporting your wife if you choose to do so.

Keep posting here if it helps. Take care.