How can I make a marriage work when depression is involved?
October 9, 2006 2:22 PM Subscribe
I am thinking about asking my girlfriend to marry me. Things are great in our relationship, with one big exception: she suffers from depression, with serious depressed periods several times a year. I feel very shut-out during these times. And it's hard to not be influenced by her mood. I am looking for advice from married individuals who have depression or those who are married to someone with depression about what it takes to make a marriage like this work.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (22 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Background: We're both in our early 30s, together about 2 years. She has had periods of depression since her early 20s. Many times, she's fine: warm and loving and interesting and fun (although always somewhat anxious). And then the depression-times come, and she is withdrawn, angry, tired, full of despair, etc.
I don't know tons about depression, but have been learning, and have learned enough to know that this is likely to always be part of her life in some way. I try to take care of her during these times, and sometimes I can, in small ways, but often she pushes me away and seems to have little interest in me (or anything else). When the depression has passed, things are back to normal, and normal is good. But it's very hard to not feel rejected when she’s depressed, and even when I don’t take it personally, it’s hard to not be able to enjoy life with someone you love for stretches at a time.
I am really torn. I do love her and I feel selfish even wondering about this (after all, she doesn't ask to be depressed). I want this to work. But at the same time, I'm thinking about a life-long decision, and I know that we've already experienced difficulties in our relationship around this issue. We have gotten better about talking about it all, but nothing we talk about when she's not depressed seems to affect what happens when she is depressed. And she says there’s nothing that can be done to stop these depressed periods (she does take medication).
I think it would help me sort this out to hear from people who have been in a similar situation (as the depressed person or married partner) – what have you done to help make a marriage work in these circumstances?