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Separating from my husband who is suffering major depression

Community Member

My husband of eight years has been gradually becoming someone I don't like, and I wasn't aware that he was becoming more and more depressed as the years went by. For the last twelve months or more he has been extremely stressed over everything, especially the small things that most people would shrug off. He has been unable to be happy about anything and every time he spoke it was negative. Our seven year old son felt the effects of being in dads way or too loud or simply just present it felt like.

So the last week before I asked him to leave was bad. Constant fighting and playing the blame game. Then he became verbally abusive, attacking me at every opportunity and speaking to me as though he hated me. I made the decision to separate, at least temporarily so he could sort himself out. That's when he decided to tell me he thinks he's depressed. I should have recognised it myself, but I guess I was too close and didn't notice the progressive snowballing of his sadness.

He begged me to let him stay, promised he would get help, but I just can't live like this any longer. I feel like the only way he will actually get serious help is if I keep strong and separate. I know if he were to move back in we would just argue, and I would lose what little feeling I still have for him after years of manipulation and gloom.

But on the other hand I feel so bad for making him do this alone. He has been to an assessment and has an appointment to see a psychologist, it's only been a few days and he is doing all the right things, but struggling emotionally. He says he can't do it without me. But I can't help him because I don't want him around our son when he's like this. I want to stay apart until he has at least been on medication for a month if he needs it, I need to know he's serious about getting help and I need time to see he's capable of being happy on his own. He blames me for his unhappiness. 

I think I'm doing the right thing for my family, but I'm sure others may have a different opinion 🙂


10 Replies 10

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi BrokenFamily,

Speaking from a male's view, the justification that "I'm doing it for my family." is not taking into account that your son has a right to have a relationship with his father. (No one ever seems game to mention the rights of the father!)

There is nothing in your post that suggests he is violent or bad to his son (or you). "Verbally abusive" is a term I am sure fits both of you if you have been arguing a lot, or do you not yell at him or attack him verbally?

You have mentioned that he is doing all the right things yet you want to stop him seeing his son for a month. How would you like to not see your son for a month? How do you even know your son's behaviour is purely because of him? Could it be you? Even a bit?

There is no mention of seeing counsellors together or even you just going to the doctor with him. If you want out, then I guess you should do it. We spend a lot of time of this site trying to shore up the feelings of people that have depression and anxiety when their partners or family fail to understand or support them, so I will not be a hypocrite and say it is okay to cut him loose based on him being depressed and you arguing with him about it.

If you want what is best for your family, then breaking the connection between his son and him and turning your back on him while he is trying to seek help is probably not the best path you could choose.

Anyway, you asked if anyone had another opinion, well this is mine. I hope you are able to find a way forward that is best for you and your son. I'd be very interested to hear back in a month to see if he has met your conditions to see his son and you let him. It will be miraculous if a man that needs as much support as he clearly does will be "capable of being happy on his own" in a month!

Kind regards, John.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hello Broken Family, I have to say that I read a lot of posts on the forums where a partner is at their wit's end with a husband or wife and decides to leave because of depression - but in all cases it's because that person has continuially refused to get any sort of help. This is the first time I have read of someone wanting to leave their spouse and refuse access to the children when that person is actually seeking help.

Medication doesn't magically work after a month. Neither does therapy. It depends on the person, and the issues. From your husband's perspective, it will feel as if you are punishing him for his depression, over which he has no control. 

I may be wrong here, but there is a tone of 'tough love' and 'pull your socks up' about her post which I find upsetting. If my friends and family had treated me like this when I was at my lowest, then I don't think I would still be here.

Community Member

Hi there BF


Welcome to Beyond Blue and thank you for providing your post and thank you for detailing it out so well.


Your last sentence has allowed me to come and put my 5 cents worth in, which I hope will be received ok;   and remember, just my 5 cents worth, but I’m coming from your husband’s view point and also someone who is a long term depression sufferer and that just continues.


Firstly I will say that I understand your thoughts and your views on this – taking such negativity, abuse and also just making both yours and your son’s life hell for so long has literally got you to the tipping point and for that I cannot argue against that.


Now, has your husband moved out already?   Or is that something  that is to happen very soon?


My thought on your husband’s side of things would be:   “If I’m no longer at home with my family;  my wife, my son, then what am I doing all this for – why I am bothering seeking out help?”   Sure it’s to show you that he is serious at trying to keep the help happening, but wouldn’t it show that he is serious by doing it all if he’s still in his family home.   You also say you need to see him happy on his own.  How?   Will there be visits to see how he is doing?   I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to handle that if the same thing happened to me – my two children are my world and if they were taken away, well, best not continue with that.


One last thing – as he’s begged to stay and doesn’t want to go – is there an option for him TO stay but on a proviso that if things go pear-shaped then he has to move out.  I know if threatened with this kind of option, I would be doing everything and over, to make sure that things tick over nicely – as best I could;   but remembering that, he has only just been officially diagnosed and hasn’t had any help so far, so for him to fall off the wagon a bit at the start would be only natural.  The methods of support and help for him will not be a magic fix - no click of the fingers and it'll be all better - gee I wish it was like that.


It’s a tough situation that you’ve posed but I’m glad you came here and posted.


I would welcome your response back to this and don’t expect you to run with it, but I was more than happy to come forward and put those views across.





Community Member

Thanks for the responses. I have to say, I never want my husband to not see his son. All I meant by the one month separation was that he not live here. And yes, he has been gone for three days now. He can come see his son, and me any time. Also I have agreed to attend any counselling that he wants me to, any time. I want to be as supportive as I can, however I am not in the right place myself to be helpful if we are living together. I need to learn more about how not to get offended and defensive when he attacks me verbally, and yes, it is an attack. I spent two days biting my tongue, not getting offended, letting him talk to me like I was scum. I refuse to do that again, especially around our child.

I know he will not be "cured" after a month, I'm aware this will take lots of time and work on both our behalves. Which is why I need him not here. He will try to use me to talk to and he needs real help, I have never dealt with depression before, and I know we will fight if he comes back. And right now I know I cannot cope with any more fighting, and it won't help him either!

Our son does feel the effects of his fathers moods, he is erratic and passive aggressive and is constantly yelling and short tempered.

Why should we put up with behaviour like this for any reason? Do we not deserve respect? I do try not to blame him for his behaviour, but I definitely don't want to live with is. I don't expect him to be happy in a month, I would hope he can at least see there is hope. Right now he only hears the negative in everything, even when I tell him he can see us and I will be here if he needs me, all he hears is I hate him and he's worthless. The depression is twisting everything and making me the bad guy. Of course I have not always reacted appropriately when he's been depressed, because I just thought he was being an a*hole.

I'm trying to do what I think is best for ALL of us.

Hi BrokenFamily,

It is heartening to hear that you do not intend shutting your husband out. That is, however not what you said in your original post and the reason I (and probably the others) are trying to encourage you to provide support. You said,  "But I can't help him because I don't want him around our son when he's like this. I want to stay apart until he has at least been on medication for a month if he needs it, I need to know he's serious about getting help and I need time to see he's capable of being happy on his own." That is a long way from saying, "he can come and see his son and me anytime." Also, no one has mentioned the word cured, which you quoted.

You also originally said, in response to his asking you to help him seek treatment, "But I can't help him because I don't want him around our son when he's like this." This is not the same as saying you have agreed to attend counselling any time he wants.

You originally painted a picture of kicking him out, refusing to help and cutting him off from his son when he is very vulnerable. If he were in a car accident and suffered a severe injury that required months of rehab to get him walking again, would you abandon him? His depression is not something he wants nor asked for.

Please understand all of us here feel for you and your son in this situation, but we would be simplistic if we did not feel for your husband. You are a family. JessF nailed it when she said that all the others who feel like walking away from the situation do so because their partner refuses to acknowledge their condition and/or seek treatment for it. He is crying out for you to help him and, as Neil mentioned, there are other ways to put boundaries around his behaviour without turning his world upside down. 

"You can call me a sucker, I don't care, because I do believe in it. Bottom line: it's couples who are truly right for each other wade through the same crap as everybody else, but the big difference is they don't let it take them down. One of those two people will stand up and fight for that relationship every time. If it's right, and they're real lucky, one of them will say something." This is a quote from a sitcom (Scrubs) and even though it was for TV, I think the sentiment is valid.

If you really want to try with him, you have to do the hard yards with him. It cannot best for ALL of you if "ALL" doesn't include him.

Kind regards, John.

I want to work this out. I want him to see his son. I want to go to counseling with him. I just cannot live with the fallout on me and my son just yet. If this makes me a horrible person then I'm sorry. I've been made to feel like a useless wife for years, so perhaps he's better off without this horrible person in his life.

Hi again BrokenFamily,

I, I think all of us that have posted, understand your frustration and concerns to a large degree. I have lost relationships to my depression, and then some. I am sure others that have replied to you have, too. None of us would like to see you lose your family if it can be saved.

He does need you and you are a good person. His condition is not a reflection of who you are. The fear of where things might go is something that would make any parent worry for their child's well being.

It is a daunting prospect that may be helped by talking to someone at the 1300 number or even the web chat. If you want, I will always reply to you but I do not have the knowledge and training of the professionals on this site, sadly I only have the experience of depression and its effects on loved ones.

Please keep posting if you want. There is anonymity here and none of us will ever know who you are, nor you us. I really want to support you through this, so that if it is possible for your son to grow up with both his parents in a good and loving family, we can work towards it.

Kind regards, John.


dear BrokenFamily, I've been thinking will I chip in or let mainly John respond back to you, however what you are doing is no different to what my wife (ex) did to me.

She eventually left me for a few months before the divorce, simply because she couldn't handle my drinking but mainly the depression I had, she said that she couldn't help me any more, as was sick of the depression I displayed to her and the kids, who were both adults by then and were living in Melbourne, 2 hours from me.

I was never abusive towards anyone, and there was no reason for her to leave because of this.

I kept on telling her that I needed her with me to support me, but she said it's too late and nothing is working, so she has to continue working to pay for the mortgage and car repayments, but that she couldn't do it around me.

All at the this time I was having counselling and on medication.

There is a lot of talk about your son, OK your husband can go and see him as well as you, but where does your son stand on this, does he want to see his dad, especially if he doesn't feel comfortable with him.

It does take an enormous effort to overcome the situation where his dad's mood is erratic. L Geoff. x

Hi Geoff, I'm sorry to hear about your situation. It really does suck for everyone involved. Everyone's situation is unique and everyone copes differently.

Regarding our son... it's only been a few days so he has only really asked where dad was once. I think he's relieved somewhat for the stress free house at the moment, but I'm sure he'd like to see his father. He's the only dad he's got. He's just a boy and doesn't understand much of what's happening. 

Your situation is why I've asked him to leave for awhile. I know if he stayed we would both be trying but it may be too late if we don't have this break now. It's not too late yet but it's gotten to that breaking point.

I hope you have come out the other side ok and keep positive.