Thursday, July 24, 2014

newlywed and depressed


Hi ESB,

I thought maybe you and your readers could offer some kind words, or some advice. I can't tell if my husband is making me depressed, or if my depression is making me unhappy with my husband.

I got married about a year ago, after dating for 5 (I'm 26, he's 30). We moved to a new city recently and life is "perfect" (nice home, great social life, good jobs). Except that I'm depressed as shit and doubting everything in my marriage. I'm really hoping it's just a phase and that once I work through this bout of depression everything will go back to normal. I'm currently seeing a therapist and getting on meds. After a few weeks at the therapist by myself, we will move into couples therapy. But the light at the end of the tunnel seems SO far away. I'm hurting so bad. 

When I'm hanging out with friends I feel happy and have a great time. It's only when I'm around my husband, or home alone thinking about him, that I feel hopeless. Now that we're married the word "forever" makes sense, and terrifies me. 

Before being married, our differences made me feel like we were yin and yang. Now, I'm starting to get worried we have nothing in common. I'm seeing things I didn't notice (or strongly care about) before; like how he doesn't offer his own opinion on anything and only agrees with everything I say. How he isn't proactive about anything and only does things when he's asked. How he has no long-term goals/aspirations/dreams other than "being happy." How he lets people walk over him and doesn't know how to be assertive. How we don't have anything to talk about (his interests are video games/tv/internet). Instead of pursuing a career for what he went to school for and loves doing, he's working an easy job that he doesn't like. 

I find myself growing/changing (in ways I like), but he's not. I find myself noticing other guys now and I HATE it. Please tell me this is a phase. Aside from the negatives I'm focusing on, he really is a great guy. He's the kindest/most considerate/giving/loving man I know, which makes me feel like a horrible, shitty person for feeling these things. We've had plenty of talks about trying to get him to be more proactive, get hobbies, etc. but no luck.

Again, I'm hoping this is all the depression talking and that my unhappiness with myself is being projected on to him. Am I being an asshole for not accepting him for who he is, or are my concerns legit?

Sincerely,
Going Crazy

*****

Ladyfriend, you don't need MEDS

You need to leave your husband.





Lover's Eyes (circa 1840) via Art Resource via Amanda Jane JonesMary Pulliam

36 comments:

  1. Is it possible your husband is depressed? A lot of things you say about him make it sound like it's possible.

    Good job getting therapy and then couples counseling. The professionals will really help you figure out what to do. And you're only 26, you have some time to sort this out.

    I also got really depressed not long after getting married, and a lot of it did have to do with my husband. Going (back) to therapy really helped me sort out what was me being a person with chronic depression/anxiety issues and what part was my husband being kind of an asshole.

    We're still working on it. Just from what you've said here, I don't think it's doomed, but I think you're very right to seek help.

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  2. The jury is out until you have couples counseling. At least this member of the jury is out.

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  3. I don't think there's anything at all wrong with your husband - it sounds like he's just being the same guy he ever was, and I don't think he can be blamed for that.

    However, I think couples counseling is a great idea, and I really hope that helps.

    If, when all is said and done, you still feel like shit about everything... there's also nothing wrong with you wanting more from your partner than what he can provide. It will be tough and scary, but you need to do what's best for you.

    Just don't stay in this marriage for years, unhappy, hoping your husband's going to completely change who he is.

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  4. Yeah, I agree with the two above posters. I think a lot can happen emotionally in the first year of marriage, and "you need to leave your husband" might be too rash for advice at this point. Individual and couples counseling are both wonderful things, and I'm so glad you're being proactive for yourself and for your marriage. And hey, meds might help, too (I think it's presumptuous for ESB to gather from this post that your husband is the source of *all* your depression). So, yes, I think the jury is out until you've sought couples counseling and truly evaluated if this is an adjustment period in your marriage or a marriage you really don't want to be in.

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    1. I agree with Anne. Adjustment to marriage is no joke- it is a testing time for many people. You're NOT alone in feeling this way, that's for sure. The great thing about marriage is that it lets you deal with doubts and fears and emotions in a safe, secure bubble. Meaning, you have forever to figure this all out because you're in it together for the long haul. You can take your time and battle this stuff and feel safe that the other person will still be there when you come out the other end. Also, love ebs and flows. Allow that to happen without freaking out and thinking "it's over!" every time you feel less in-love with your spouse. Love is like waves, and that is totally normal and OK.

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  5. Generally I'm pretty nuts about my husband, but we just moved across the country and I don't have a job yet and even though I love the place we've moved, I am still having some trouble adjusting (mine is anxiety rather than depression, but still). And in this period I'm finding myself getting really short with my husband over things that I would usually shrug off.

    My point is that even if life is "perfect" you've been through a shit-ton of transitions (new marriage, new city, new home, new job) and that shit is difficult. And takes time.

    So, maybe you will find out through your solo or couples therapy (go you, by the way) that your marriage is the source of this unhappiness. But I think given the number of variables here, don't write it off too quickly.

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    1. This is exactly right. I went through a rough patch after marriage, and blamed everything on my husband. He was patient, and I eventually went to therapy and meds, and two years later, we are better, stronger, and happier than we've ever been (married for 4, together for 8). Give therapy a chance, and then leave if you're still unhappy. Just don't get knocked up first...

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  6. I think couples therapy and individual therapy is the right path for you right now. Its better that you fully explore what you are feeling rather than making a rash decision you may regret later. Try to keep your patience and find the good qualities that your husband may possess.

    At the end of the day, you are responsible for your happiness. I think that you should be spending less time trying to change his likes/dislikes/hobbies and more time trying to change yourself and how you view things... unless you don't want to try to change yourself, in which case you already have your answer and it's that you don't want to be married anymore. But don't stay in an unhappy marriage just because you may be afraid of what other people will think if you end it, as that can sometimes be the case.

    Good luck!

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  7. I dunno. It sounds like you are projecting your issues onto him all of a sudden. Like why does it matter so much to you that he get a hobby? Any hobby? Like suddenly he has to take up ham radio to make you happy? It sounds like he is supportive of your current emotional (or whatever) growth. Embrace that. Maybe someday he too will become restless and pick on you for no real reason and you'll have to be the patient one.

    From what you admit, he has not changed. Thus you basically married someone hoping they were someone else. Never a good idea. ESB might be right--at 26, no children, you can cut your losses and Ovary Up and have the guts to marry someone you actually like.

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    1. This is needlessly judgmental and cruel. Advice is one thing, but writing off the poster's feelings and trying to make her feel wholly responsible for a situation you have only a glimpse into is completely unfair and not helpful at all.

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    2. Also, telling a woman to "ovary up" is deplorable.

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    3. You'd prefer "man up"??

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    4. Not all women have ovaries: that's cissexist and transphobic.

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    5. Well, I'd prefer neither of these sexist insults. Are you kidding me, ESB? This response by Anonymous was irresponsible and careless.

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  8. i was really depressed for a good part of the year after i got married - basically i came to this realization that i'd followed my exact plan for my life and i still wasn't in love with it. so i didn't know what to do. i started re-thinking everything, including my husband and our marriage. it took a lot of searching (and should have taken some therapy, now that i look back on it) but i realized i wasn't happy with myself. and my unhappiness with my self was manifesting into me being unhappy with everything around me, including the people i love more than anything. I finally started to take action - i started being creative again, which eventually lead to me quitting my job and starting a new business, i focused on being healthy instead of skinny (or eating my feelings and then being quite overweight!), i learned to like myself for the first time ever. i was lucky in that my husband was incredibly supportive and just there for me every day, even when i didn't deserve it. and now it's been a few years and we are happier than ever, b/c we grew together. I don't think you can blame your guy right now - make sure you are happy with yourself in general and THEN decide if he's right for you. because he was right for you before.

    also, you're just at a tough age. not that that should stop you from being happy, but there's that whole theory that every 7 years your cells turn over so 27/28 is a tough time for women b/c you are officially an adult (unlike 21) but at the same time not an adult (35) and you are at the point where you've made decisions that feel like they are unchangeable. but everything can be changed. google turning 27/28, there are all sorts of articles about it.

    take care of yourself, and i hope everything works out in the way you want it to in the end.

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    1. THIS! In astrology that time is called your Saturn return. I don't believe in astrology necessarily, but 27 - 29 being a time of big change really rang true for me. I really pulled away from my partner, wanted all this independence and adventure, took off overseas, had an affair. It was a really hard time for both of us, but in the end we stuck together. I'm 30 now and feel much calmer and our relationship is great now.

      Good luck with whatever you decide to do. If you're feeling restless though, I would caution you off trying to get HIM to change (regarding job, hobbies, ambition) - he could resent it, and understandably so. Look at yourself instead.

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    2. I was going to say pretty much exactly the same as Anon 1:54. The first year of marriage was hard for me as well. I thought that I would be married and that would help me be the person that I wanted to be, but marriage can't help you be that person, you have to figure it out yourself. Anyway I went through a couple of months of questioning everything about my marriage including myself and my husband. I think you need to be careful about making life changing decisions (such as leaving your husband) when you are depressed. I'm not saying you should stay with him if he is not making you happy but you need to figure out for sure what it is that's not making you happy. Hopefully the counselling will help with this. For me, when I am unhappy I question myself which leads me to question my life choices, my marriage and my husband. I love how laid back and relaxed my husband is but when I'm questioning everything it becomes why is he so laid back? Why isn't he passionate about anything? Why isn't he more pro active etc etc. in reality he hasn't done anything different it is just me overthinking things and being unhappy with myself at that point in time. Anyway, rant over, hopefully you can figure out what you need to do to make yourself happy!!

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  9. Your irritation with him and your home life is a classic symptom of depression. Take time to take care of your own pain and get sturdy before you do annnnything. Honor thyself.

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  10. I'm with previous Anonymous, You've been with him for 5 years, and agreed to get married, and were probably completely over the moon about it. But now that all of that's done, you're probably in the "What now?" boat. I can say I'm kinda in the same boat. It gets better. But get counseling and meds; don't make rash decisions.

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  11. some old wives' advice my mother always told me was a woman will spend the whole marriage wishing her husband will change while he will spend the time wishing she won't.... a broad statement but with an element of truth i think that i try to be mindful of... am i grumpy at him or the situation. is this something i used to find endearing? why is it an issue now? it takes me a little time to be honest with myself and figure out why...
    another piece of sage advice from a very wise woman i've met, "if it poses a problem at the beginning it will be there in the end"
    wishing you clarity and the answers you appear to be searching. much love.

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  12. I totally agree with Anon 11:45: even good change is still change, and it's stressful and hard. Moving cities and getting married in the same year is HUGE-- of course that's going to put pressure on your relationship. I think that this is something you'll have to figure out for yourself in therapy. I would take the time to really work on yourself and get back to a healthier place, and don't rush anything. They say the first year of marriage is always the hardest, and most people don't throw a major move in there, too. That said, if you come out on the other side and realize that you really don't want to be married to this person, that's 100% valid and it will be okay. But you need to decide whether or not to take him as he is, because it's not fair to expect him to change.

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  13. Disclaimer: I'm talking about normal marriage, not red-flag abusive never-should-have-happened marriage.

    I feel critical of my husband at times. We've been married 10 months and only dated for a year before that. He isn't perfect by any means.

    I sometimes find my thoughts becoming incredibly negative about him. I get anxious and really unhappy about it for a little while. And then…I think about all my dumb crap that he has to put up with. And then…all the great things about him that I'm so thankful for.

    It makes sense to me that the first year of marriage would involve this sense of adjustment of expectations. I've never lived so closely with anyone before except my family. And I can get really negative and critical about my family!

    The problem with the first year is that everything is new and I have no perspective. He didn't do the dishes=OMG WHAT IF HE NEVER DOES THE DISHES AND I HAVE TO DO THEM ALL THE TIME AND I BECOME A HOUSE SLAVE OH NO OH NO OH NO.

    All the stuff about him that isn't ideal is standing out because now I'm all in and the stakes are high and…are these really things I can live with?

    I've resolved this by reminding myself that there is no man in the world who doesn't have imperfections, and that I'm not a cakewalk to live with, myself. The beauty of marriage is not the thrill of romantic love, it's the incredible rarity of two people committing to each other through thick and thin, DESPITE the ugliness present in both parties.

    In other words, the beauty of marriage is grace.

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  14. Marriages aren't disposable. You should try to do everything you can to save them. My husband and I have been together for 12 years (8 dating, 4 married) and around year 10 we hit a rough patch that lasted about 9 months. We came out of it and are as in love as ever. Marriages have ebbs and flows (so say many grandmas). If there is no abuse then give couples counseling a try. It can't hurt and there is a reason that you married him in the first place. I'm sorry you're going through this. Good luck!

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  15. It sounds a lot like my sister could've written this about a month ago. She has just separated from her husband, they have been married for 4 years and have 2 kids. She thought he would change, -become more proactive about his life -stop needing to be asked what to help around the house -become more 'involved' in her likes and interests, but of course he didn't. He is a lovely guy, and his own person and while a bit lazy he has many other redeeming qualities. My sister acknowledges it was unfair of her to marry him thinking she would successfully change him, she should've accepted who he was a long time ago. She is burnt out and drained from years of doing everything herself, dragging him to places he doesn't want to go, supporting him to get out of his dead end job that he probably won't ever leave...
    If I were you I'd definitely give couples counselling a really good, committed go. Try your socks off. But if at the end of that you can see he isn't going to change then walk away, let him find someone better suited to him and let yourself be free to find someone much better suited to you.

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  16. This is the kind of letter that makes me think "fuck marriage. I'm never doing that." WHY does society value two people getting together and STAYING together, when in situations like this, it's just obvious you've outgrown each other?? Instead, you're left feeling shitty and guilty, when you could have just had 5 years with a person you cherished, then, when the relationship ran its course, MOVE ON.

    I don't think I'll ever get married. And that's not because I don't want to have a meaningful relationship. I just want to have LOTS of meaningful relationships that coincide with the various, changing phases of my life.

    Anyway, I'm with ESB on this one. Leave. And if you do, good luck! I'm glad life otherwise seems to be treating you v well : )

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  17. What do you do for a living? Are you in an office setting or at home most of your day? How long have you been in a job setting and not an academic one?

    Is it that you have a lot of time to let your mind dwell? Have you suggested things for the two of you to do on your free time? Find some activity after work? Go to the gym together? Do weekend getaways? I only suggest these things because it sounds like you feel like you two are in a rut. Plan things for the two of you to do. Rekindle whatever it was you had for those five years before you said "yes."

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  18. ESB, telling OP to leave her husband is not helpful.

    To me it sounds like a 7 year itch. Work through the couples counseling and see how you feel on the other side.

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  19. oof. I went through something like this with my now-husband back when we were still dating (also about 5 years into our relationship. I think it's pretty natural to question your relationship at that point - especially when everything else in your life is ostensibly "perfect" ... i.e., boring. It's very difficult to pull yourself out of that headspace. For me it took a half-year living and working abroad, going through a really emotionally exhausting flirtation (that didn't amount to much) with a handsome Norwegian, and lots of drunk conversations at the hostel bar with the only other American around (instant best friend) to really figure out why I loved my partner and why I wanted our relationship to work. It was a really messy, ugly time in my life, but I'm glad I went through it. I think it's what made me ready to marry him ...

    Obviously, I can't say whether you'll reach the same decisions about your husband and your relationship. But maybe try to shake your life up a little? Get some space from him and see if how things feel with a little distance?

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  20. Maybe he is having a hard time adjusting to married life too? It is a gigantic transition it takes time. I HATED being married for the first year and half, now at threes years in I've settled in and enjoy most of it.

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  21. If you think back to your dating time did you have any of these worries but marry him anyway? I experienced very similar problems in my marriage (we were married 1 year and 3 days before the divorce finalized.) Even though I felt my depression and anxiety so intensely once we were married and every time I thought of "forever," if I really think back, I was unhappy with our life/relationship way before the marriage. I now know (via lots of therapy) that I should never have gone through with the marriage and I have many things that were my fault in me being unhappy. I'm sure it is a combo of issues on both you and your husbands side. I wish you the best of luck and I honestly hope you can work through this, whatever the outcome.

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  22. I think this is horrible advice. I'm not saying you should definitely stay with your husband, but you need to work through your depression before making any decisions. Depression colors everything, and things that were once minor annoyances seem so much worse. Good for you for getting therapy (hopefully it's cognitive-behavioral), and wishing you strength through this difficult time.

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  23. I mean... Even though I'm so obsessed with therapy I refer to psychology as my religion, I also honestly question whether one can be truly unhappy in a relationship, decide to leave it and then later down the road realize it was a huge mistake and then they’ll never be happy again.

    If we can as adults accept that there is no "one true love" and that really any number of folks could work as a life partner, then I think we need to also accept that this OP could decide to just walk away and even if she continued with therapy (frankly I think the drugs are mostly useless unless you're truly unable to self-motivate due to the depression - therapy is the only thing that can permanently heal you, unlike a happy pill) and got better and regretted her decision to walk, it doesn't mean it would have ruined her life. In fact, I think OP could decide to stay and go through counseling alone and together and the marriage could get stronger and she could live "happily ever after"...but I also believe she could decide to cut and run right this minute and still get her "happily ever after". I believe that, because I've finally accepted what I have fought my whole life to not believe - I am the ONLY person who can actually make me happy. And that's true for all of us.

    I like marriage. I used to not believe in it, then I left a shitty partner and started to see how it could be great. I met someone, I fell in love with him, we got married and now we're struggling through some shit. We'll hopefully get through it, I hope we get through it because I honestly want to wake up next to this guy for the rest of my life. But if it doesn't work out, or if (godforbid) he got hit by a car tomorrow, I will still be happy in my life. Because I'll still be here. And I'm in charge of my happy.

    Personally I'd love to change this rule, I think a lot of us would. I think a lot of us never even learn this lesson. It's so much easier to want someone else to be the answer. But I know there is no magic resolution to being happy. There's just knowing yourself and figuring out what you need to be happy. You can get that through therapy or self-help reading, journaling, having multiple affairs, having a kid, quitting your job and back packing through Asia - but you aren't ever going to find your happy because of another person. So to me all the advice here is good because it can all work out for the OP. And OP, I sure do hope it works out – no matter what you decide. I've spent many years in weekly therapy and I am still amazed and impressed at how much I've learned and changed.

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