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Should I stay or should I go?

Community Member

Hello Everyone,

my husband is clearly suffering from depression and shows all the key symptoms. It comes in peaks and troughs and I am not sure what triggers it. I assume that this time, it was a selection of work stress, discussions we had and his sudden thoughts of potentially wanting children. We discussed children at length before our wedding several years ago and I was always open about not wanting children. He did not want any at the time, too, but now says that he is not sure anymore and that the thought of children "hurts" him. Is is confused and unsure but believes we are diverging. He is tired all the time and recently has become very withdrawn, to the point of telling me he wants to be alone and misses his single life. Then again, he tells me he loves me a lot and the thought of losing me hurts him to the point of crying. But when I ask him whether we should split up, the first reason he gives me why he doesn't want to is that the administration of a separation would be too much work. When I told him that that is not a good reason to stay together and that I believe we should separate because i cannot live with these annually upcoming existential doubts and questions he has, he said that he cannot imagine living without me. I believe depression has left him completely confused but I am also at a point where I wonder whether he has these depressive bouts again and again because he is not happy with the relationship and does not see a future anymore. I wish I could find out whether that is the case but when I ask him, he says he does not know and gets all withdrawn again. He thinks that i am better off without him but in the same sentence, he tells me hurtful and mean things about me, like him missing to be by himself and living his life without having to fake excitement for the things I like. We have a beautiful holiday booked for the end of the year and after seeming genuinely excited for so long, he now tells me that it all just seems like a big chore and effort to him. Even the relaxing part of the holiday which he actually craved is now all of a sudden "too long". I don't know what to do anymore. I have gone through these same things every year since we got together eight years ago. I can't help but feel that he is just not happy in the relationship but for some reason does not find a way out. Or is it the depression that it appears his family has a tendency for? I don't know anymore. Most of all, should I leave for my own sake & happiness?

18 Replies 18

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Gigi1981~

I'm sorry to here of this ongoing situation and can well understand your doubts about either staying or going.

Let's leave the issue of kids to one side for the moment.

The problem is basically that any satisfactory long term relationsip takes two people that love and care for each other and support each other reliably. In other words you have to be able to count on your partner.

Your words do not paint such a picture, in fact your relationship is full of doubt, changing feelings and inconsistence.

When I had my most severe encounters wiht depression I was confused, withdrawn and did not feel love, or even feel capable of love. I often needed to be alone.That was the illness taking over.

It may very well be your husband is suffering from an illness like that. The obvious thing to do is for him to see a doctor, get diagnosed and treated. Most mental illnesses of this sort do respond - often very well - to professional treatment.

Have a look at The Facts menu above for background information.

Trying to maintain a relationship without hope of such improvment would be very difficult indeed, with the supporting partner in danger of falling ill too, or at the very least building up a great deal of lonliness and resentment.

So I would stongly encorage your husband to seek medical help, you can't make him, he has to do it, but you may be able to steer him in that direction.

You are going though a very difficult time, do you have your own support? A family member or friend you can talk frankly to, who cares and will want to help? I've found talking to another sympathetic person has made a great difference.

I'd be very pleased if you returned and talked more.


Community Member

Hi Gigi

Firstly, I'm really sorry about what you're going through.

My focus would be to make sure he's being adequately managed for depression. If he is, then I would be getting some marriage counselling. When depression is involved it complicates things so much, and I can see the pain in your dilemma. That's why I would make sure he was getting treated properly, first and foremost - then counselling. Your decision to stay or leave the marriage is of course your decision alone. Let's just hope he's not pushing you to make that decision...

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni
hello Gigi, it's always distressing when the confusion between whether he is suffering from depression or whether he wants to move on by himself happens, however if he does have depression then the marriage can be saved.
The trouble with this illness is he may want to be by himself but he still wants you to be there for support, and that's why there is much doubt.
A holiday would not seem to be exciting for him if he has depression as it will reduce any thought of wanting anything, only to be by himself.
Before you make a decision it's important that he does have a diagnosis from his doctor, then your situation would be made much clearer, however I'm not sure that you want to go through all of this with him, that's a decision you will have to make yourself.
If he doesn't want to go on this holiday then perhaps you could take a g/friend with you, because unless he gets the help he may need then it won't be a happy one for you.
First thing to do is look after yourself that's your first priority. Geoff.

Community Member
Hi again,
as you can see above I have posted about my depressed husband and issues that have recently arisen lately. The last issue was that I asked him to remove a female colleague from facebook after I saw another sexually connotated comment in their conversation and him lying about the fact that he was talking to her when I asked him. He got very angry at me, blamed me for being controlling and said he needed a break. He moved into the guest bedroom and does not talk to me. The last few days, he has treated me with utter disdain and almost hatred. I had to fly away for work and he has not been in touch at all. Complete silence and I am not sure whether he is brooding in anger, planning our divorce, suicidal or just completely emotionless. He definitely does not have empathy with me. On the first day after the issue I told him that I would look for places to move out (because he had suggested that he do that but I do not want to live in our home alone where everything reminds me of him). He later came back in a text and said that if I want to move out, that's fine and he won't get in the road. I told him that I don't WANT to at all but that it appeared to me the only option after all the things he said to me (e.g. wanting a break, me being controlling, blaming me for everything, telling me he married a child and that I am high maintenance). He did not accept any responsibility where we could have built an even playing field for a reasonable conversation. So after I told him that I would much rather stay with him and try to get us both happy and that I am willing to contribute whatever it takes, he did not respond. So I thought I would leave him his space as he said he wanted. I only left him a little note saying I love you before I left for the airport yesterday. However, I have had absolutely no word for him. For me, the silence is very painful because I feel that somebody that, just a week ago, cried and told me he cannot imagine me not being in his life, gives me the cold shoulder and treats me like scum. I would not do that to somebody I love, I still respect the boundaries and most of all, their heart. I may have made mistakes but does't everyone? At least I tried to be fair and reasonable, trying to explain my feelings. Also, he has contributed a lot to my insecurities which led me to act the way I did and the suspicions I could not shake despite actually trusting him 100%.

Dear Gigi

Welcome to the forum. What an unhappy life you are experiencing at the moment. So many issues to consider with not much direction.

It seems to me that you have some issues that hang off other issues. Meaning that once the major part has been settled the minor issues will fall into place. From what you have written it seems the most pressing action is to get your husband to a doctor to determine his mental health status, i.e. is he depressed and/or anxious. A great many of his actions seems to indicate he is depressed but you need and expert in this field to make the call.

If he is depressed he can then start the journey to health. It will be hard but there is a lot of help out there for both of you, and you will get support from BB as well. Additionally it will be a place to start repairing your marriage.

If he is not depressed and there seems to be no other reason for his actions, may need to rethink your marriage. I know this will be hard but it doesn't mean your marriage is over. You can start talking to a counsellor and work out your differences.

I know you feel hurt and sad about what is happening and it's not a good place to be. I have been there living with someone who refuses to speak and it really is horrible.

So I suggest you both work on finding what is wrong, and if it depression or something similar, encourage him to get help. I think it would be helpful for you to find a counsellor as well. You are clearly unhappy which stems from feeling unloved and uncertain about your marriage. This is something you both need to work on.

So, Step 1 Go with your husband to the doctor and tell him/her what is happening in your life. Listen to the advice and act on it.

Step 2 If husband has a mental illness help him to recover by being as supportive as possible. This means working together, not fighting each other.

Step 3 Take yourself to a counsellor. If money is an issue try Relationships Australia which I think will be your best bet under the circumstances. If there is not an office near enough try the Salvation Army or Anglicare. These are low cost or no cost counselling services and I think you will benefit from getting all concerns off your chest with someone who can guide you through the process.

Step 4 When you feel your lives are getting back into balance you can talk about your marriage. I rather suspect that by that time it will be obvious if your marriage is over or not, but you will both be in a better situation to deal with it.


Hi Mary,

thank you very much for your response. My husband shows a lot of depression symptoms and he has previously been diagnosed. Back then he did some therapy but then stopped. That was two years ago and every year he has those periods again. This year is probably the worst phase since I have known him, even worse than the one in 2014. We have also seen a marriage counsellor twice because of, what I believe, his depression and the way he seems to see me and our relationship in those down phases. That usually helped, however, not ongoingly. And every time he slips back into depression, anger and complete emotionless and coldhearted behaviour, he says that the counsellors were on my side and made him feel guilty and in the wrong. I believe strongly that he needs ongoing treatment, maybe even medication as I do not believe the therapy alone works. But given he does not want me anywhere near him and has completely shut down all communication, how can I possibly get through to him? The other question I have is whether there is actually any evidence out there that a marriage can successfully survive depression. I have read up on depression a lot but I cannot seem to find only one success story that shows a marriage or relationship can actually survive. Or at least not in a way where both partners are happy, even if they have to go through tough patches together. I would be more than happy to go through rough times with my husband but he treats me like the enemy every time it gets too bad. How can I reach him? I feel like this time is really the end, he has completely withdrawn, sleeps in the guest room and wants no interaction. It has never been so cruel and terrible before. I am thinking of moving out and will go to inspections tomorrow but I really don't want to. If I only knew whether there is a chance to be happy together despite one person suffering from this illness. If I knew that there is a chance, especially if he agreed to another GP visit, maybe medication, ongoing therapy and counselling for me. Would that at all change anything for the better? Or are the chances slim anyway? We have a lovely and very loving relationship when times are good and we tell each other that we love each other every day multiple times. But now, it is as if there is no love at all, just hatred and anger towards me. Is there a chance this could ever change if he agreed to proper ongoing treatment and I would support him as much as possible? I would give everything for him

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Gigi~

You asked about a marriage success story, so I'll provide you with one, though as you will appreciate everyone is different and what happened with me does not mean it will happen with anyone else. Still maybe it will help. At the moment I'm sure everything looks unsure and confusing and there really is no guide as to what to do.

I was invalided out of my career with PTSD, anxiety and depression. This was a terrible period for my wife. I was totally withdrawn wrapped up in myself, very jumpy, bad tempered and controlling. I also has no idea if I loved anyone or even if I was capable of love. Among other things I wanted to be alone and thought my family would be better of without me - and of course at the same time I felt very guilty.

Lots of other stuff not worth going into here. Initially my wife thought all this was partly her doing, not being caring/sexy/understanding/etc enough. Rubbish of course, it was the illness doing my thinking for me.

I had left the major stressor - my job - and with my wife's encouragement eventually took a course of study, improved for a bit, relapsed, went into hospital and when I came out started to improve again, this time on a long term basis. Eventually getting back to being a loving partner. We were together for 25 years altogether before she passed away, and were still in love. I won't hide the fact there were still bad periods though.

All that sounds sort of OK on paper, however it was a very hard time for my wife who had to deal with me, run the household, look after our child and go to work (she was a nurse). I would not blame anyone for leaving under those circumstances.

So there is a happyish story. I guess one big difference from your husband is I was under continuous treatment and accepted it was necessary. And the other, to be blunt, is that under it all I really did love my wife and had no contact with other ladies. I have no idea how your husband feels. You did say at times you were happy and loving together.

Frankly I'm not sure how much I'm helping with my account, the circumstances, as I said, are not identical.


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni
hi Gigi, I remember your previous story, and to answer whether a marriage can survive when one person has depression can vary in the answer, but with me, no it ended in divorce, but it depends on how tolerate the other person is, but it doesn't mean that we can't talk to each other because we do many times.
I know that some marriages and/or r/ships have been able to keep going with many good points coming out of them.
I'm not sure but somehow I think this other lady is still behind the scenes and causing all of this trouble for you, he may still love you deep down but is mesmerised, captivated by her attention, but what happens when she may leave the scene, he will probably return to you unless someone else comes along.
I still love my ex but she only cares for me now, although our decisions are as if nothing has happened. Geoff.

Community Member
Hi All,

Over the past weeks, I have written about the issues with my husband, especially during his phases of deep depression. Last week was so terrible and he was so cold and withdrawn yet again that something in me feels like it has broken. I have suffered through the same issues and emotional pain over the past eight years and although I love him with all my heart and soul, I am now really worried that if I do not walk away from this relationship, it will mean that my life will continue like this for the next 40 years. I cannot live each year believing we finally had a breakthrough and he is finally happy and content, and then during his phases, he questions everything, pulls everything down and we have to start building our happiness back up from zero. He wants to see a psychologist but does not believe that his depression is a key problem. He holds things against me for every year of our relationship and every year, there is more added. He says it is like emotional scars that he cannot get rid of even though he wants to. And it’s not big things, it is things like him having to do most bill payments when we first moved together (he doesn’t mean paying the money, he means the actual online transaction). Or that I do not like driving our car so much because I am scared of making a scratch in it. He believes, I am not his equal because of that even though I do most around the house these days (including bills) and I have a job that earns more than him. I am quite successful, well-liked and intelligent, but he holds on to the tiniest things and hence believes I am dependent on him. It is completely absurd.

Now I am at a point where I would wish nothing more than to live happily with him but I have lost the last bit of hope that was still there after eight years of recurring struggle whenever he questioned and doubted everything we have. I believe, it is best for both of us if we separate, but I am scared of making the wrong decision and I am scared of hurting him now that he feels better again. It is always the same, after a terrible episode with emotional agony, he is happy and loving again and it feels like a honeymoon phase. But I know now that this will not last, at least I do not believe anymore that it will ever get better.

I am confused. I thought we could just enjoy the probably last beautiful times together before I ask for separation. But I feel so guilty thinking about separation and he believes we are good again. What should I do?