Depression in a relationship affects all aspects of one’s life. Whether it’s suicidal feelings or simply feeling down, these create some very challenging roadblocks in life. Depression creates a lack of feeling, which prevents you from the connection we need with friends, family, and significant others. This can cause significant strain in any relationship and, if left untreated, can result in a breakup or divorce.
The Problem of Depression
When you or your partner are coping with depression, you can’t access those typical feelings of self-love. This is a problem because the loved one feels for others is a reflection of the love one feels for oneself. You or your partner may have an intellectual understanding of the love held for a partner, but being depressed in a relationship prevents one from feeling love.
If you’ve ever seen someone with depression, they often express themselves with crying and general unhappiness. But don’t mistake this as them feeling something. Depression in men isn’t feeling unhappy. It’s the hopelessness that comes from feeling nothing, be it joy or sadness. It’s not like they don’t have feelings in them; they just can’t feel them right now.
Much like dealing with depression, it’s quite difficult being married to someone with depression, because they misread situations. One day they’re connected to you and the next day they don’t feel connected to anything. That’s the beast that is depression in a relationship. They can’t just get over it or think happy thoughts to “get over it.” Depression mutes all feeling and leaves a person numb to the world. It also leaves a person hyper-critical of themselves, instilling a belief that everyone is dissatisfied with the depressed person.
For example, one partner might ask their significant other to pass the salt at the dinner table. The depressed partner might then take that to mean they’re a poor cook. Is that rational? No. But is that the negative cycle a person coping with depression might encounter? Yes.
The Symptoms of Depression in a Relationship
Depression can cause myriad relationship problems and marital problems alike. But it isn’t always easy to identify depression if you aren’t watching for it specifically. Here are some common symptoms to watch out for with depression in men:
Being depressed in a relationship breeds self-doubt, which ultimately affects how you view your partner as well as how you think they view you. A person without depression might view difficulties as a tough time that the relationship can overcome. However, a person with depression will believe their partner doesn’t care about them and the relationship is ultimately doomed to failure.
Self-doubt breeds feelings of being defective, worthless, and full of flaws. If your partner is depressed, they need to see evidence of self-compassion from you. They may not feel that it is okay to have setbacks, but that’s what any healthy relationship encounters. Feeling secure about relationship problems is difficult when coping with depression, so it may depend on you as their partner to help them see that conflicts can be overcome.
If you’re married to someone with depression, then they are more likely to see the negatives in life. Depression oftentimes minimizes the positives, making it easier to notice the everyday problems we find in life. As a result, this can manifest as criticism.
Are you always walking on eggshells around your partner out of fear of making them angry or frustrated? Does stuff as simple as leaving clothes on the ground or dishes in the sink trigger them to criticize you? That might be depression manifesting itself.
• Unrealistic Expectations
Many people coping with depression live by an internal script that indicates the correct things one’s partner should be saying or doing. The problem with this is that one’s partner hasn’t read the script. As a result, when one’s partner deviates from what is expected, their depressed side will react with dissatisfaction, disenchantment, and feelings of failure.
Let your partner know that you aren’t a mind reader. They need to know that clear communication is how to convey what they’re thinking. Ask them what their expectations of you are. Give different scenarios and ask them to describe how they expect the situation to be solved. At the same time, give them realistic expectations of what to expect and that they should understand things won’t always go according to what they envision.
Finding the Help You Need
The problem of depression affecting a relationship is not uncommon. Whether you or your partner is dealing with these feelings of isolation and numbness, the last thing you should do is deal with it alone. Two treatments exist and should be pursued hand-in-hand: medication and therapy.
Medication is easily dealt with by consulting your primary care provider and selecting a medication to try. But medication alone won’t solve being in a relationship with someone with depression. That’s where the therapy comes in.
Finding a counselor for couples therapy to talk to and get out these negative thoughts and feelings can be a healing experience in itself. It allows a person to discuss the problem thoughts they’re encountering with someone that can help guide them in a positive direction. It isn’t always enough to talk things out with one’s partner. Having someone to help motivate their depressed partner to pursue counseling can be invaluable. Maybe your partner is coping with depression and fears going to counseling alone. That’s where you can step in as their partner and go with them.
Figuring Out How Depression Affects a Relationship
You might be keenly aware of how your partner’s depression is affecting the relationship. Or you might not even know what is going on with your partner. If depression is the culprit, then both of you need to see how untreated depression can strain any relationship. That’s where we come in.
Our Couples assessment gives you the opportunity to explore all aspects of your relationship and identify problem points. You can then use the results of this assessment to explore how both you and your partner scored yourselves and each other.
Simply fill out the questionnaire by truthfully scoring yourself and your partner on all aspects of the relationship. Remember the truthful part, because that is critical for any relationship to succeed.
But then what?
Once you’ve completed the assessment, you can sit down with your partner and examine the results to identify relationship problems and discuss the possibility of couples therapy. If you and your partner want to ensure your partner’s depression doesn’t lead to a breakup or divorce, then you should make this an honest discussion.
If you can’t simply discuss the assessment results, that’s where therapy comes into the equation. With the results of your assessment in-hand, you can approach any counselor with evidence of any relationship problems you might be encountering. A licensed professional will then use this during your counseling sessions and help you address the issues flagged.