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When my words fall on deaf ears...

Community Member


I am a almost 40yr old wife, been married 15 years, and known the love of my life since we were teenagers.

We've both had our traumas in life. Most people do...everyone has a past, a story, a tragic moment or two or a shitty hand they've been dealt, they just need to survive with...

My husband showed me how a man should love a woman, and how to be respectful of a woman. My husband taught me to be proud of myself, and open up to being loved and admired and cherished. We supported each other to the n'th degree in all aspects of our lives. We never judged each other, never hurt each other with words and always showed each other kindness.

...Until a few years back... when my husband was diagnosed with depression. He is also more and more reliant on the beers of an evening, on medication, and we're seeing a marriage councilor.

Both of us, for different traumas we've had to live with have openly sought assistance with a psychologist...Our marriage councilor says our our communication skills aren't aligning anymore, and our words are hurting one another.

We both think differently, initially attracted to one another as we were polar opposites. Now this difference is tearing us apart...

I guess, my beef is the lack of respect that I get shown. His would be my lack of love or support for him.

We've both come to resent the other, my for him not seeing that his alcohol intake is affecting his depression, and our love life. Often (at least 3 times a week, bed wetting occurs). This topic hasn't been discussed with the marriage councilor on his behalf, and I get that, as it's shameful to him...but the cycle is the same for me, I see this and am living with this too, but nothing gets resolved, it's a 'pain point for him'. He cannot see that the alcohol is the cause of the further depression, and believes that my words are fueling his elusiveness.

My attempts at showing love and affection are failing, as he continues to feel unworthy, unloved, and useless. Nothing I say makes a difference, my words fall on deaf ears...

He doesn't feel loved. I don't feel loved. We both feel very alone right now. I am lost inside, as I feel so hurt and afraid to say, do, or be the wrong thing for him.

He doesn't like my words, they do nothing for him but spark anger and he pulls away from me, often sleeping downstairs or retreating, saying "I don't get it" "I don't care". He wants me to show love, but I find it hard to show affection when my needs aren't being met either.


14 Replies 14

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear HelplessWife~

I felt very sad at your message, by the sound of it two lovely people who recently are hurting and cannot see a way forward. Perhaps I should say I'd imagine that the people each loved is still there, though masked.

Depression makes a huge difference, and leaves on angry, unable to cope, resentful, out of touch with one's own feelings and feeling terribly pressured by normal events and people. I was simply unable to tell if I loved anyone, or even was capable of love. It is a great pity your husband has resorted to alcohol to help cope, it will only make matters more complicated and harder to resolve.

When I felt that way words made no difference, so I'd imagine it is the same for your husband. For you to feel unloved, ignored, lost, hurt and afraid is very natural. Just about anyone would.

I've no message for you except to say I got better and eventuality resumed a loving relationship with my partner. I did discuss everything with my psychiatrist, and perhaps that is something your husband may need to do.

It was a very hard time for my partner, not least because I was not consistent from day to day in my reactions. She did have her mum present to help with practical things and lend emotional support - do you have anyone like that? In my partner's case it made a huge difference


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello HelplessWife, such a lovely story to begin with but ends with sadness.

Such a love for each other only to be destroyed by depression and now the alcohol playing a dominant factor.

It sort of relates to my situation, my first ever love married for 25 years, sure we had our difficult times as I'm sure every relationship has, however, the last few years were difficult because I was burdened by depression, I had a breakdown that's when the alcohol played such a dominant part.

My wife moved into another room, she couldn't sleep next to me because I went to bed early, very early and couldn't stand the smell of booze.

I was having counselling who I saw for 20 odd years, had my good times and then those bad periods, abstained several times, but then went back to drinking, so she left me and then divorced me, the love of my life, that's when I began to feel better.

That sounds as if it was her fault, but I would never blame her.

Perhaps a separation between the two of you might be best because sometimes this makes the person wake up.

If you show him, love, while he's drinking, that only reinforces why he feels he can drink, but it's catch-22, if you don't give him love, then he's just going to drink more, that's why you need a counsellor/psychologist to show you what to do.

If you do leave him or vice-versa this doesn't mean you can't talk to him and if he wants help then you can go with him to a session or suggest appropriate ways to help him through this depression.

It is difficult for you to show love to him when he's not abiding by any suggestions or advice from you or his counsellor.

I definitely feel so sorry for you.


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor


I truly feel for you both as you both sound so frustrated. With the marriage councilor saying your communication skills aren't aligning anymore, I'm wondering whether they have given you some new skills to work with. The communication skills needed in speaking with someone experiencing depression are definitely different. For example:

  • 'I feel frustrated that this depression is leading you to drink' instead of 'I'm fed up with you drinking'
  • 'I feel resentful of this depression and how it leads you to show me disrespect' instead of 'I hate the lack of respect you show me'

It's a bit strange but if you can see the depression as a 3rd member of the marriage, it might give you a different view as to how it is getting in between the 2 of you, when your marriage was once so healthy. If you address it as being separate from your husband (like with those examples), he may not take things as personally.

During my own years in depression some time ago, my depression was definitely a most unwelcome 'house guest' that refused to leave for 15 years. Drinking sent it away for a while each day but then it would come back in the sober moments, with a vengeance. Being free for brief periods was the motivation to keep drinking. As I say to people, when you're trying to be the chemist in your own lab (brain), altering the chemistry present in depression is the goal. Some will achieve chemical changes through booze, some with drugs, some with medication (anti-depressants). Wondering whether your husband is drinking so much because he's not on the most effective anti-depressant yet. Worth thinking about.

I can tell you HW, the chemistry in depression is definitely a life-changer. It was actually group therapy that got me out. When starting therapy everyone in the group expressed the same damaging impact - anger, lethargy, inability to connect to people, states of despair and sadness, loneliness, resentment towards 'happy' people, resentment towards self, social inadequacy and the list goes on and on. For me, coming out of it was like going from night to day. I was a different person. It is a cruel form of dis-ease.

It might help to do some research, to better understand that unwelcome house guest. Understanding is key for the both of you. With you both researching it, you are doing something together, something that unites you in the battle your husband faces. You may both come to agree that alcohol is well documented fuel for depression.

Take care of yourself HW

Thanks Croix,

Yes, I've got some emotional support in my mother too, however, she's never been uniquely in this situation either, and I sometimes find her support counter intuitive as she's bias towards me.

Thanks for your kinds , it helps to know others have experienced such things, and I am not actually alone here...



Thanks Geoff,

I don't want a divorce. I don't want to separate, I want to work this out, but my words mean nothing to my hubby, as he cannot comprehend them. He doesn't believe his depression is the cause of things, he just see's me as the issue...Still lost! Heartbroken and upset, but will battle through, am hollow but have hope!


Thanks therising,

I found you're post super helpful.

I never thought of my husbands' depression as another person in the room, but you're right, it's very much like that.

Yes, I've been given a script very similar to yours', but not sure how effective it will be as hubby doesn't comprehend my words at present...difficult right?

When he is opposed to any words I say, and takes and twists my words into meanings that are not true I find I retreat and simply don't speak..which then makes him feel unloved and unworthy. But, when I speak and express myself like you mentioned, he still finds a way of twisting it to make it like I'm attacking him or hurting him in some way... I cannot seem to break through to the true man I am in love with...am consistently talking to the brick wall of depressive hubby.

Lost and alone...

Community Member

Hi HelplessWife,

I know it's been more than two years since this thread. I'm not even sure that you'd come back here after so long, but I stumbled upon your posts and felt so much like I had written your words. I just came on to see how things were going...I do hope that your situation has improved and that the hope you held in your heart was able to carry you through. Would love to hear from you.

Community Member

Hi Croix,

I know your post was a long time ago as well, but I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge these words you wrote to HelplessWife some time ago:

I've no message for you except to say I got better and eventuality resumed a loving relationship with my partner. I did discuss everything with my psychiatrist, and perhaps that is something your husband may need to do.

This has given me hope. At least enough, to believe that there can be brighter days ahead after the storm. Thank you.

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear 815~

When things were bad there were two me's, which might sound silly but one part of me was consumed by depression and reacted accordingly, the other was outside me wondering at it all

In time I came to see how hurtful I was being (not that that always stopped me) but I did try a little, a cuppa offered being a starting point.

I had the right psychiatrist and eventually the right meds, it made a world of difference. Now I support as well as be supported, can realise I have and give love, rather than just absorbing or ignoring it, and can take satisfaction in the work I do.

Yes, there can indeed be light at the end.

Support for the supporter is vital, family, even medical, to help get though a devastating time when the one person they look to for love is giving greif instead.