Counseling Men Blog
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I Think My Husband is Depressed - Can I Save My Marriage?

Posted by Kurt Smith, LMFT, LPCC, AFC on Sat, Aug 30, 2014

How Do I Save My Marriage - When I Think My Husband is DepressedPart 2 of 3

Let's continue looking at Carrie's marriage. She's wondering, "is my husband is depressed?"

Carrie's husband is unpredictable -- in his responses, behavior, and especially his emotions. She says she walks around on eggshells because of it. But could this really be a sign her husband is depressed?

To try to keep the peace she tells their 6 and 10 year old kids to "let daddy have a pleasant evening." 

Despite her peace keeping efforts, she says his anger is becoming more regular. At Christmas dinner, in front of the whole family, he screamed across the room at her, "If you want to stay married to me you'll never do that again."

She cried in her hands as she recited to me in counseling the numerous ways he degrades her and hurts her with his words.

At other times Al tells her that he doesn't deserve her and says he knows that his anger will lead to the end of their marriage. She wonders . . . if he's given up . . . if he's having an affair . . . what he does on his FaceBook page.

She tried to kiss him last week and he turned away saying "don't pressure me."

"I hate my life," he told her. "I hate myself."

After telling me this, she said to me, "I think my husband is depressed. What do you think?"

We talked about what depression can look like in men. I told her in men it often looks just like stress. Here are some common depression symptoms in men:

  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • Moodiness (this can be grumpy, or an emotional roller coaster, much like the eggshells Carrie walks around on)

It wouldn't be surprising if her husband Al is depressed, I told her. A lot of men are depressed. In fact, most men when they get depressed still function quite well in many areas of their lives, particularly professionally. So the external symptoms can be misleading. The signs are most often evident in their interpersonal interactions, especially with loved ones.

As Carrie and I talked she kept crying. She just couldn't forget the feeling that "he doesn't love me" and kept questioning how that could be connected to his mood. "How can I save my marriage?"

I suggested to her that he may still love her despite what his actions show. However, that love has been covered over and she just can't see it right now. Depression, stress, and unhappiness with himself have blanketed his love for her and keep it hidden. With help those things can be removed and it's possible she could see him begin to love her again.

Carrie is far from the only wife asking, "is my husband depressed?" All of her husband's actions described above are signs he very well could be. But it's also likely that's not only thing going on with Al. Clearly he has an anger management problem at the moment and his behavior towards Carrie is abusive for sure. But I wonder if those are only occurring because he's depressed or if they're signs of other problems?

For some wives all they have to deal with is my husband is depressed. For others like Carrie, she may have a depressed husband, but she's also got an abusive husband and a man with a serious anger management problem.

In what ways can you relate to Carrie? Does your husband look something like hers?

* This is the second post of three examining a marriage in which a wife feels her husband doesn't love her anymore and she seeks the expertise of a marriage counselor for help in finding out what she can do. You can read the first post, How to Save My Marriage - When My Husband Doesn't Love Me Anymore here. In the third and final post, I Can't Get My Husband To Change, we take a look at some things Carrie can do to change her husband and save her marriage.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published February 23, 2010 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Tags: Understanding Men