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Marriage falling apart

Community Member

My husband has suffered depression for about 8 years now.  Unfortunately as time went by, I didn't handle it very well and struggled to cope.  We began to create destructive cycles of behaviour which continually added to the stress and anxiety he was feeling, and made me lapse into jealousy and anger.  I was jealous of everything he did outside of our relationship because I felt so physically and emotionally deprived and this jealousy was expressed in so many ugly ways (it is shamefully hard to admit this and I feel sick when I think of how much extra pain I caused him).  He acted out against my possessiveness and the cycle continued.  I had become a shell of a person, avoiding contact with my family and friends, and becoming increasingly bitter about life and work.  I have recently asked him to leave our home in an attempt to break the cycle and he has moved in with our young adult children.  After he left he sent me a text listing all the hurtful things I had said and done over the 25 years we have been together.  While it hurt, it was the first indication he had given me of how he really felt about our relationship.  I have realised that I should have sought help for what I think was also depression, and for managing my inappropriate reactions to his depression. I can see that I was a weight adding to what was already a heavy load for him and that even though I had been denying it, I was a major part of the problems in our marriage but he also must carry some of the responsibility.   He has told me for a while now that he wanted to be alone but had never taken the step.  I feel that the deliberate acts that resulted in me asking him to leave may have been a way of 'forcing the issue'.  I am seeking professional help for my own depression now and working on my jealousy issues.  I love him dearly and even in our darkest moments we did maintain some affection and closeness and I really miss holding his hand - especially at bedtime. I do not want our marriage to dissolve because before the depression we were a loving, strong, secure couple who had a great balanced marriage where we grew together but allowed each other's strengths to flourish.  He was a wonderful husband and father and a great friend to me.  I have always been so proud to call myself his wife and everyone knows how much I love him and enjoy being with him. Is there any hope for us?  

10 Replies 10

Community Member

Hello queenie. I loved your last question. It made me smile wishing we could give you an answer you are looking for.

you are certainly in a complex emotional arena at the moment trying to clarify what parts belong to you, your husband, and life in general. No easy task.

its terrific that you are on the right track of deciphering your own behaviours and their role in determining your current situation. It sounded like you were acting out some dysfunctional scenarios and now dealing with the fallout. Shame is a strong emotion and can be quite destructive if not put in a context of an illness and kindness to yourself that you were doing your best at the time. For whatever reasons you did the things you did you would have done them differently if you had access to better thinking and behaviour choices. The fact is you didn't and it's not your fault. 

so compassion to yourself and kindness to your old choices.

you are learning to make new choices and I think giving yourself and your husband some space is a positive thing.

i also think reconnecting with your husband in a healthier and a more enriching way is a way to go. 

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

dear Queenie, I was in exactly the same situation as you are now. We were married for 25 years and she was my first and only love, only because I grew up in an all boys school so I was shy to ask anyone out.

We had many ups and downs but when I had depression she was good for awhile but then gave up and moved out, as both my sons had moved to Melbourne, and so she finally filed for divorce, which devastated me, but I couldn't do anything about it.

Now we still see each other not socially and often talk on the phone and still get on well together, we still kiss and cuddle, but we could and wouldn't ever live with each other again.

Now the both of you have depression, and it would unwise to live together at the moment, plus there are other issues that also need to be rectified.

There may have to be an agreement as to how to pay the bills and I hope that this isn't going to be a problem. L Geoff. x

Community Member

Thank you both for your replies. 

I guess we have a long road ahead of us and it is hard to know where it will lead.  I am sure it will not be smooth and there will be many obstacles along the way.

Connecting in a healthy way is my focus at the moment.  And getting the help I need.  

Thank you Vera I needed to be reminded not to be too hard on myself.  This is something that I am struggling with because of the shame and guilt I am feeling.   He is a good man who has fought a very hard battle against depression and if I knew the outcome would mean losing him all those years ago, I would have done so much more to be the supportive, understanding and strong woman he needed.

I was saddened to read that you and your wife eventually seperated and divorced Geoff, but if our healthy connection means remaining friends for life, I will have to accept that.

The split has been relatively amicable. There are no arguments over paying bills, finances etc.  We continue to share a bank account and neither of us has made any purchases that the other would consider unreasonable given our seperation.  He is dropping in every couple of days to see our dogs and visit our other son who is still living at home with me. 

This emotional ride has been traumatic for me - I have swung from moments of acceptance and hope, to grieving heavily and wishing I could just have in back in our home.  At the end of the day, despite everything, I love him.



Community Member

Hello Queenie. Yes, treating ourselves with compassion can be so difficult when we come down so hard on ourselves. And yet it is so helpful and kind to our psyches and to all those around us too. 

Sounds like you have some terrific opportunities to continue relating to your partner. It's great that he too is continuing his relationship with his son. And so he should of course.

i also hear that you regret not being more supportive and understanding when your partner was unwell. The thing is if you were better informed, had more energy, had more insight etc etc etc blah blah blah...... The fact is it's not your fault that your husband was/is sick. There is nothing you could have done, nor can do to make him better. There is so little we can do ourselves for ourselves to make ourselves better. (My expression sucks but you know what I mean)

i eat well, exercise etc etc and that's ok when I can. But when I can't that's ok too. Just how it is.

relearning to relate in a more constructive ways and taking responsibility for our own thinking and behaviour will go a long way to changing the dynamics between your partner and yourself. I did a lot of work in this area too and it's certainly paid off. 

i wish you all the best on your own journey


Community Member

I have had a terrible day today.  It started out so positively with us doing a normal husband/wife job together this morning and when he left I just broke down and couldn't control my tears.  I am reliving the events that finally resulted in me asking him to leave and am so hurt that he could put our marriage on the line so readily. No matter what I tried to do today, to distract myself, it just seemed to make me feel worse.  His shirt was in the load of washing that I was hanging out - I found his boxer shorts under his pillow where he left them - a chocolate treat I bought him is still in the fridge half eaten - I just want to crawl under my doonah and sleep and sleep and sleep... except that I know when I go to bed I won't sleep.  I don't even turn the light off anymore because it just reminds me how alone and lonely I am each night.

Yeah, you get that.  A couple years ago, I was grieving a girl called Amy and every time I looked at the TV, "Luckyyyy, you're with AAMI!" was being positively *sung* at me.  About 5 people I met in a week were named Amy.  I missed a turn while driving home one day, so went around another way, and discovered a street bearing her surname (which is quite a strange surname) right near my house.  Zeus (or whoever) has a funny sense of humour.

Try some calming music and one of those $10 eBay "Daren Waves" mood lights for getting to sleep.

Do you see friends much?

You are right Odin's Beard.  Seeing friends is great advice but making the effort to see people has been really, really hard.  I am worried that if I open up to people (who are mostly mutual friends) we will become a source of gossip and as I don't really know where our marriage is going I don't want to do anything that might jeopardise a reconciliation.  Whenever I have forced myself to get dressed and get out the door it has made me feel much better though.  Where I live is quite isolated and unless I make an effort to get out I can go for days without laying eyes on another person.  Which was exactly what we wanted when we moved here, but as the years of depression have continued, the isolation has only added to the unhappiness... and at this point in time it is almost unbearable!

I am finding lots of relief in spending time with my children - although they all have lives of their own now.  Being their mum and sole carer while they are in the family home has been remarkably therapeutic.

I will take your advice on the lights and music at bedtime as well.  For someone who loves a good night sleep and daytime nana nap, I am really suffering from my insomnia.

Thanks for your advice.  I know that in time this hurt will subside, but for the now it is very real and very, very painful.  I can't believe I am suffering a broken heart at my age - I thought I would never experience that pain again when I met my husband...

I dunno, maybe it's at least a good sign for the state of your heart that it feels something as a young'un does.

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

dear Queenie, it doesn't matter what age we are in love, it never stops, be it a husband or wife all the way down to grand kids.

Our children may move interstate or overseas and we only see them every now and then, but we still talk, on the phone or skype or on our iphones, and when we stop talking we may cry for them not being close any more.

When we do separate we want our friends to take our side, but really they should be neutral, supporting both you and your husband, although they may have their own thoughts on the situation, and depending on how they were when you were together, then they can take sides. L Geoff. x