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My wife doesn't love me.
May 9, 2007 8:11 AM   Subscribe

My wife doesn't love me how do I cope?

A little background on me: I’m in my late 30s and in my second marriage. I have three kids from a previous marriage. I’m independently wealthy. I am very perfectionist (although struggle not to be). Growing up I was always the “golden child”. I always had straight A’s, was very popular, and excelled at everything I did. I was always very respectful to others, and my siblings, parents and grandparents always treated me like I could do no wrong. I am still very close (talking many times a week) with everyone in my family.

A little background on my wife: Same age as I. Two kids from a previous marriage (husband was not a nice guy). She was struggling financially when we met. She has such a good heart. She is stunningly gorgeous. She struggled a little more than I growing up. She’s not as close to her parents or siblings as I am. She always felt that growing up her parents didn’t like her that much and favored her siblings. I think that she is very insecure, but she does not agree.

My wife and I got married about five years ago. We have two children together.

My first marriage (4 years) ended after my wife left me (for someone else). I do not think that my first wife ever really loved me. She was insecure and stayed with me because of that. When someone better came along (it actually didn’t work out in the end but now she has a husband who I must admit is quite incredible) she left me, and did so very coldly and hurtfully.

Since almost the beginning of my second marriage I have felt at times that my wife does not really love me. I see this in so many ways during those times: The way she looks at me; the way she talks to me; the way she blames me for everything; the way she never just comes up and touches me. She is by no means a gold digger and did not marry me for my money, but I often think that if it wasn’t for her insecurities and what I am able to provide, she would never have married me and she would not stay married to me.

She tries very hard to be good to me. But it is obvious that she has to struggle to be so. During the times when she’s able to act like she loves me I feel so good inside. But during the other times I just feel so bad.

It has started to affect me very deeply. I find myself just all of the sudden crying at times (at home, at work, in the car). At other times I just feel so angry at my wife for not loving me. Overall I feel like such a loser.

I am fairly certain that I do something to a spouse that makes it so difficult for them to love me. It seems like everybody else - my kids, siblings, parents, even my employees - love me so much but in a romantic relationship I do something that makes this not possible. I’m not quite sure what I do. I try very hard in life to be tolerant, non-judgmental, empathetic, and caring. But I think that when it comes to a romantic relationship I fail at those things. My wife has told me that I’m so arrogant. She has told me that she feels she’ll never be good enough for me. Clearly I make her feel these things. I am so sorry I do and have been trying very hard not to but I’ve had no success. I’m starting to think I’m like an expensive looking sports car that everyone oohs and ahhs over but once they buy it they realize it doesn’t run and is a piece of junk.

I have talked to therapists about this but they for the most part have not helped. The last one I had told me that I should leave my wife. I do not want to leave my wife (nor do I want her to leave me). I get so sad thinking about my children from my current wife having to grow up with divorced parents (such as my other children have).

I have discussed this with my wife a few times. The discussions developed in response to her questioning me about why I’m so sad and distant (or sometimes angry). The discussions made her very upset and angry. She says that she loves me more than anything and that basically I’m just saying that her love isn’t good enough for me.

I keep telling myself to suck it up, and that it doesn’t really matter. But it just doesn’t seem to work. Somedays it just makes me feel so sad that I have trouble getting anything else done (today for instance). I keep thinking that maybe I’m totally wrong about everything. But no matter what I tell myself it doesn’t change the sadness I feel inside.

Does anybody have experience with something like this? Is there something that has worked for you in a situation like this?
posted by tr45vbyt to Human Relations (73 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have discussed this with my wife a few times. The discussions developed in response to her questioning me about why I’m so sad and distant (or sometimes angry). The discussions made her very upset and angry. She says that she loves me more than anything and that basically I’m just saying that her love isn’t good enough for me.

This is the part that stands out to me. She's asking you about what appears to her to be emotional distance -- something she wouldn't really do if she didn't care for you. And she says she loves you. Nothing in the signs you think you see necessarily mean she doesn't love you -- she may be less naturally expressive because of her family background, she may be worried about you, she may have legitimate beefs with things you do or say. It's hard to say, but I wouldn't leap from your evidence to the conclusion that she doesn't love you.

It almost seems as though it may be you who is struggling with insecurity: you list all your accomplishments here, for instance. Sometimes people who are driven to achieve are driven by a need for approval. Then, too, you were burned once before. I do think (of course) that therapy would help. But since the problem also exists in the relationship between you and your wife, and since you haven't been able to come to an agreement about what the problem is yet, you should probably look into marriage / couples counseling.

I know it's hard to find a therapist you like and trust. But you're entitled to one . It's hard to find a hairstylist or a dentist you like and trust, too, and most of us feel fine interviewing or trying a few for a single appointment and then moving along to the next if the fit isn't right. For some reason we seem to think any old therapist will do, when that's not the case. I hope you'll put some time into finding someone you'd like to work with, and then perhaps inviting your spouse to be part of couples therapy with you. It need not be an awkward thing: "I love you and I want us both to be happy in our marriage. Let's see if we can work together to improve things so we understand each other better."
posted by Miko at 8:25 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


You need a new therapist. Sometimes it takes several tries to find one that works for you. If you find yourself crying unexpectedly at times, and angry at others, and these emotions distract you enough where you can't get anything done, you have some unresolved issues deep inside that require professional help.

How does your wife act during those times you say "she acts like she loves me"? Does that mean she's very tactile, hugging, touching and kissing you? What type of behavior demonstrates her love to you? IANAPsychiatrist, but it could be that since you've had people fawning over you since childhood, you've learned to interpret this type of adultation as love and you're not getting that from your wife.
posted by Oriole Adams at 8:28 AM on May 9, 2007


This may seem harsh, but you need some perspective here.

It sounds like your wife does love you. You are just not able to translate the things she does into the feeling that she loves you.

She is right, you are acting like her love isn't good enough. She doesn't struggle to show she loves you, she struggles to figure out those things that make YOU think she loves you. These are very different things.

You do sound arrogant as she says. It sounds like anything less than full out adoration isn't really love to you. You need to get over that right this instant. Healthy relationships are not built on adoration but on partnerships, trust, and caring.
posted by stormygrey at 8:29 AM on May 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


She does love you but your insecurity could very well drive her away. Go give her a big hug, tell her that you know she loves you and then go see a therapist asap.
posted by zeoslap at 8:30 AM on May 9, 2007


You and your wife both sound depressed to me.
posted by talitha_kumi at 8:36 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


She tries very hard to be good to me. But it is obvious that she has to struggle to be so. During the times when she’s able to act like she loves me I feel so good inside. But during the other times I just feel so bad.

If she doesn't love you, why does she even try?

She says that she loves me more than anything and that basically I’m just saying that her love isn’t good enough for me.


Why can't you believe her when she says she loves you?

I'm sorry you are having these feelings. They truly hurt - emotionally and physically. I remember feeling this sad in my relationship that I could feel pain emanating to my fingers and toes.

Sometimes I still feel sad, but what has helped me is that I started believing my husband when he'd say he loves me. He does a lot of amazing and kind things for me. If he didn't love me he wouldn't be trying so hard. Focus on the good things. Focus on the fact that she's still around and she still tells you she loves you.

you say this:

Since almost the beginning of my second marriage I have felt at times that my wife does not really love me. I see this in so many ways during those times: The way she looks at me; the way she talks to me; the way she blames me for everything; the way she never just comes up and touches me.


and then you say this:

The discussions developed in response to her questioning me about why I’m so sad and distant (or sometimes angry).

Maybe she doesn't approach you because you don't give off the vibe that you want to be approached. When someone is distant or angry, I'm not very prone to be touchy feely either.

I know I haven't given you any concrete answers - but really, what can I say other than, get counseling?
posted by Sassyfras at 8:38 AM on May 9, 2007


What I hear from your post is that you have an expectation of what someone loving someone looks like - based off either upbringing or whatnot - and that is not how your current wife demonstrates it. What if your wife is loving you the best way she knows how? Can you accept that? And if you have specific things that would make you feel more loved, have you asked if they are possible for her to do? Can your, self-acknowledged, perfectionist self accept that she is giving you the best, whole-heart love she can offer?

You can't play the "if she loved me she would . . . " game because it goes both ways and when she is distancing herself at times it could be because no one likes to be accused of not loving someone that they actually do. The more you say "you don't love me", the more she starts to believe you.

For myself, I make a conscious effort not to take the things my partner does for granted. It's hard and I notice that the cycles of distraction I was prone to get shorter and shorter. But that is because I will notice that distance and try to close it up. I found being overly, but honestly, appreciative helped. "I like when you", "When you do x it makes me feel happy/good/whatever" or even calmly saying "please don't blame me for whatever, I'm doing the best I can".

Whatever it is, just for awhile trying being very vocal if you can about what it is you are feeling. It worked for me and even though I backslide a little, it's very easy to get back in the habit of really saying what it is that is bothering you/making you sad/glad than it is to have irrational, angry arguing matches.

The worst that will happen is that you will have tried something different and it still didn't work out, but you tried and that can go a long way to healing.

My two cents.
posted by nramsey at 8:38 AM on May 9, 2007


I've had my bouts of insecurity in my present relationship. My boyfriend wasn't raised to be terribly affectionate or expressive. He shows he loves me in ways that are natural to him - i.e., fixing stuff, providing for me, and other "typically masculine" ways.

I had to teach him how to meet my other needs, like that of physical affection. I like to hold hands, I like to cuddle before we go to bed at night, etc. These things don't magically occur to him - I had to directly tell him that I wanted them. Having to ask for them doesn't mean that he doesn't love me.

You mention that your wife is "stunningly gorgeous." If so, she's probably spent a lot of time pushing people away that wanted to get close to her. Even average looking women get hit on much more than they'd like. So perhaps this pushing-away, this keeping-men-at-a-distance, became a habit for her. It's probably not even conscious when applied to you.
posted by desjardins at 8:40 AM on May 9, 2007


FWIW, I am your wife. I'm not very good at expressing emotions especially not where love is concerned but that doesn't mean I don't feel those feelings. I think you two need to work out ways that you can both express your live for each other in ways that are comfortable to you both. This means you two need to sit down and have a rational talk about how this can be resolved. Tell her what it is that she does to make you feel loved. If she truly does love you then she will make more of an effort to do those things. At the same time you need to realize that she's not going to change overnight or in a drastic way. Assume she's doing the best she can.
posted by LunaticFringe at 8:40 AM on May 9, 2007


Sometimes people who are driven to achieve are driven by a need for approval.

I do have this problem. I'm so sensitive in that area. I've been trying to be less so but it's quite a struggle.

but it could be that since you've had people fawning over you since childhood, you've learned to interpret this type of adultation as love and you're not getting that from your wife.

Yes I think that possibly is a huge part of the problem. But no matter how much I tell myself that that is the case I still just feel so sad.

It sounds like anything less than full out adoration isn't really love to you. You need to get over that right this instant.

I think your probably right and I've been told this before. But for some reason, I've just been unable to use that knowledge to make myself feel better when I'm feeling this way. I'd like to get over it this instant but cannot seem to.
posted by tr45vbyt at 8:42 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


You should probably find a couples therapist. It may take seeing a few before you find one that works for you.

In my experience, there is often a gulf because people have different "love languages" (to get somewhat pop psych on you).

You say "the way she never just comes up and touches me" - does she touching as a sign of affection? Maybe not. Does she know what you consider to be a sign of affection? As for "blaming me for everything" - this may be a sign of negative thinking or selective perception on your part.

Finally, you sound depressed. You may want to start there instead of with your relationship. Solving one issue may improve the other (depression vs the relationship) but it'll be hard to do two things at once. Which one should go first? There's no easy way to say - but you have to start somewhere.
posted by GuyZero at 8:44 AM on May 9, 2007


Different people show their love in different ways. Not everyone shows their love by gazing adoringly at their partner and hugging and touching all the time.

Your wife says she loves you more than anything, why dont you take that at face value? It sounds to me like your behavior is hurting your wife a lot and causing her incredible distress. You're probably making the situation worse. You say she was married to a bad man before, perhaps she still has some issues there to deal with and maybe that is the reason she doesnt act as you expect her to act - it doesnt mean that she doesnt love you but your pushing her away with your behavior.

and just fyi - blaming you for everything is normal - all men in relationships should know that everything is your fault - always and without notification and if you dont know what you've done wrong then you're sleeping on the couch ;)

But seriously, it sounds like you have some real insecurity issues and could do with some counselling.

Have you tried couples counselling? It seems to me like you could do with a neutral forum to air your feelings, let you wife know why you dont feel that she loves you. DO NOT tell her that she doesnt love you. Dont be confrontational or accusing, just let her know how you feel and give her the opportunity to work these issues out with you.

If she says she loves you more than anything, then its probably true, she's not saying "ofcourse I love you dear", she's expressing an extreme emotion - to say she loves you more than anything is verbally the strongest way she can express her love.
posted by missmagenta at 8:49 AM on May 9, 2007


cmonkey, you had me at arrogant but the jerk part totally closed it - thanks.
posted by tr45vbyt at 8:55 AM on May 9, 2007


I'll second Miko that you don't seem to have found any proof that your wife doesn't love you, but you do offer a couple examples of your own behavior that may be negatively impacting her, or how the two of you relate.

I've found that different people (based largely on their own family background) can have vastly different ways of expressing love. It may be that you are looking for certain signs that aren't there, but missing those that are.

If you have openly discussed this with your wife and she has insisted that she loves you, I would recommend that you try to trust her, and take that at face value--that's part of you loving her.

It might be a good idea (either in couples therapy or simply out on a date together) for the two of you to try to develop a common "vocabulary" for expressing love. Definitely express your own desires: "I feel loved when you spontaneously approach me for a hug, and it bothers me sometimes how infrequently this happens." But also learn from her what she considers "loving gestures." She may say, "I feel like I express my love every time I offer you coffee after dinner." Who knows? It may be something you're simply not conditioned to notice, and so insisting that she doesn't seem to love you may, in fact, feel to her like her loving gestures aren't good enough for you.

None of this addresses the way that you're feeling right now, however. I agree that you do sound pretty insecure, despite your strengths and accomplishments. And I second, third and fourth the inevitable calls for continued therapy. But I'll reiterate that right now what I think you have is a problem of perception--you are perceiving your wife's behavior as "not loving," despite her insistence to the contrary. Work hard at trusting her, and looking for the gestures that she feels she is making. You're certainly still entitled to say that you need physical affection to feel truly loved, and if she balks or refuses to meet you halfway, then you've got a more specific problem on your hands than "she doesn't love me." But I will also say that if you're acting sad/distant/angry, that may not be eliciting the most loving feelings from her--again, depending largely on her own background. Being very outwardly loving to your wife (with gestures she can appreciate), may be the easiest way to receive them in kind. If a touch from her would make you feel better, then initiate it yourself, and try to think of it as sharing/appreciating your love for each other, rather than "I had to make the first move because she doesn't love me enough."

I'm sorry that you're hurting, tr45vbyt. I hope it gets better.
(on Preview: Whoa-- +1 everybody)
posted by EL-O-ESS at 8:56 AM on May 9, 2007


She may also be tired! Between you you have 7 kids? How many of them live with you? Do you get much time alone, just the two of you?
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:05 AM on May 9, 2007


Thank you everybody for your comments. I appreciate all the good advice. After reading them a couple times I realize this is all my issue.

My wife just called me telling me how worried she is about me and telling me that I or we should see somebody. She, like guyzero, thinks I'm depressed.
posted by tr45vbyt at 9:06 AM on May 9, 2007


I'd like to get over it this instant but cannot seem to.

It's important to get over this, but I don't think it's something you can just snap your fingers and have happen.

If you want to be able to stop judging yourself based on other people's praise, you need to find ways to fulfill yourself. What makes you feel good about yourself that does not involve praise from other people? What sorts of things can you do that make you feel whole, loved, and worthy?

For me, it's meditation and yoga, and exercise. It's walking in nature and breathing fresh air and realizing how much a part of the world I am, how I'm connected to all this amazing stuff that happens and grows and breathes. It's watching dogs do all their doggy silliness in the park, or watching my cat get her wise-toad expression as she deeply contemplates whether to continue grooming her left ear. It's seeing all the beauty and wonder and silliness and happiness in the world, and seeing myself as a small part of that process, rather than as the pinnacle or goal of everything that happens.

I'm sure there must be less New Age-y ways of achieving that state, but for me at least it boils down to: What happens after you're gone? Do you "win" at life because you've accumulated good grades and money and respect? No, not really, which means the focus should be on the process, not the end result. Which means finding ways to enjoy everything that happens, no matter how small, and no matter how "irrelevent" to your life goals it may seem. Because those moments are what's actually important, and the life goals just get in the way.

Circling this back to your wife, I think EL-O-ESS has a great point, that you may be ignoring those moments when your wife is showing her love and appreciation because they don't fit into your idea of what your "marriage goals" should be. It sounds like you're hung up on the idea of accumulating love, like your wife has to hit certain benchmarks of love production in order for you to feel like you're getting enough profit out of this relationship. Stop thinking of love as this thing, as a commodity, and start thinking of it as an interaction, as a process that you and your wife are going through together. See if you can make that shift, and see what happens from it.
posted by occhiblu at 9:07 AM on May 9, 2007


It sounds to me like you expect perfection from yourself and nothing less than adoration from others. It can be tough to live up to that on either side. There's also an interesting dynamic happening with your first wife. After all, once burned, twice shy, right? The end of your relationship with someone you really love may seem inevitable to you, and that would make anyone cry.

Everyone's already said this, but go to a couples therapist. This is very different from going to a one on one counselor, which I think you should probably do as well. The couples counselor will actively engage you both in projects. You will feel like there is progress. Your wife can work on being more communicative, and you can work on letting your perfectionism slide. The therapist will have hundreds of exercises you both can do to work on this in fun, interesting ways.

While you are doing all this you should probably take an anti-depressant. There are plenty of mild ones, such as Wellbutrin, that people take to quit smoking. These drugs can help you momentarily break routine patterns, so they can help during this period.
posted by xammerboy at 9:08 AM on May 9, 2007


Have you read a book called "The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate" by Gary Chapman? It's an interesting book that might help you sort through your feelings and your seeming communication gap with your wife.

He's a marriage counselor and he identifies five different ways that people perceive love:

- Physical Touch (holding hands, sex, backrubs)

- Words of Affirmation ("Honey, I love you so much" or "I'm so happy I found you")

- Acts of Service (throwing out the trash or washing the SO's car)

- Receiving Gifts (sending flowers for no reason)

- Quality Time (a weekend away).

The book goes into detail with examples of what these Love Languages look like. We often speak the Love Language that we want for ourselves. But if that's not the SO's "Love Language" they are not receiving what they want and they are not giving us what we want. Then we end up feeling unloved and misunderstood.

As I recall there might be references to Christianity and/or the Bible but I don't recall it being dogmatic.

To me it sounds as though you love each other but are expressing it and needing it in different ways. Also you might want to be evaluated for depression. Sudden crying is a sign that brain chemistry might be affecting you more than you think.
posted by Soda-Da at 9:09 AM on May 9, 2007


LobsterMitten, I think she is tired and stressed. The kids live with us.

I feel almost stupid for asking the question now after reading all of the responses. Clearly my wife does love me and I probably do not give her enough credit. But I can't tell you how bad and unloved I feel at times. It's almost unbearable.
posted by tr45vbyt at 9:09 AM on May 9, 2007


Some things about your relationship remind me of my (now divorced) parents. My dad needed to be loved by everyone and would always go out of his way to help friends, relatives, colleagues and other people in his life. However, when it came to my mom, he didn't treat her as though she was any more special than anyone else, and she didn't feel like she could trust him to put her needs first. On the other hand, from his side he felt like when he did things for her she wasn't as appreciative as other people were.

Obviously, all of this is a stretch from your post, but I'm suggesting that perhaps you aren't appreciating all the ways that a marriage is different from the other relationships in your life. She needs to see every day that she is number one, even over the kids. Some people will disagree with that, but the way I see it, they have two parents who love them, but she only has one of you.

On preview, I think it's great that your wife is willing to see someone together, I think this would really help you. By the time my parents tried it, it was unfortunately too late.
posted by teleskiving at 9:10 AM on May 9, 2007


Also, lots of people here swear by a type of therapy called "Cognitive Behavioral Therapy". It's good for helping you to change behaviors that you recognize are unhealthy. You say frequently, in your post and your replies, "I know I should stop thinking this way, but it's hard" ... as I understand it, that's exactly the kind of thing that CBT can help with. You might try to find someone in your area who could walk you through some CBT.

Did you feel like she loved you at the time when you got married?
Are you aware of anything specific that has changed, that might contribute to either her feelings, or your feelings about her feelings?
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:11 AM on May 9, 2007


cmonkey, you had me at arrogant but the jerk part totally closed it - thanks.

You're crazy. A jerk wouldn't have written this post. If you're feeling that you're a jerk and that something is wrong with you, that you're a car no one knows is broken, then yes, you are depressed.
posted by xammerboy at 9:11 AM on May 9, 2007


You really do sound like you're depressed - objectively, your life looks pretty good, and it really does sound as though your wife loves you and wants to get through to you somehow. This situation must be pretty horrible for you - I know, I've been there, crying at unexpected times, thinking everything is awful even though an impartial observer might not agree.

The point is, you can't be impartial at the moment, and that's ok. But you probably should see someone about this - as you sort the depression out, by talking, meds, however you manage, everything else might just improve without any other action.
posted by altolinguistic at 9:22 AM on May 9, 2007


My wife just called me telling me how worried she is about me and telling me that I or we should see somebody. She, like guyzero, thinks I'm depressed.

She reaches out to you, shows that she's observing how you act and feel, proposes a solution, worries. That sounds like love right there.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:22 AM on May 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


Wait, you have seven kids living with you from three different relationships living with you and your think your wife isn't showing you enough attention? Obviously, I don't know how old the kids are, but.... that's a lot of people to take care of, and you're presenting yourself here as one more person to take care of rather than as a parent who's helping care for the others. If that's a realistic view of how things are going, I'd be totally burned out, too.

So add "Taking immensely good care of my kids, and watching them grow and develop, and actively helping to care for and raise them every moment I'm at home" to my list of things you can do to get out of your own head.
posted by occhiblu at 9:25 AM on May 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'll tell you your problem. You'll read this, promptly forget about it, but it'll be the only true thing about yourself you'll read in years.

Your problem is that things are too easy. The fun is never in the having, but in the acquiring. You are no longer having fun because you don't have to suffer to get things you want anymore. So you're depressed and are looking for something to blame for this. The wife is always a convenient target.

I'd suggest this - book a 5 week holiday to namibia. If you have any good guy friends, then go with them. If not, go with your wife. Just chill out there, do some sand dune surfing, rock climbing, etc. It will give you some perspective.

Alternatively, make an investment in a startup. You need to get back some of the energy and passion that comes with trying to achieve something.

It's the listlessness that is killing your life.
posted by markovich at 9:34 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sorry for typos. And to clarify, I meant that if I were your wife, I'd be burned out, too.
posted by occhiblu at 9:34 AM on May 9, 2007


Overall I feel like such a loser....

I’m starting to think I’m like an expensive looking sports car that everyone oohs and ahhs over but once they buy it they realize it doesn’t run and is a piece of junk....

Somedays it just makes me feel so sad that I have trouble getting anything else done (today for instance). I keep thinking that maybe I’m totally wrong about everything. But no matter what I tell myself it doesn’t change the sadness I feel inside.


That right there is textbook DEPRESSION. Why the heck hasn't your therapist recommended you talk to your regular doctor about a nice Prozac (or anti-depression drug of the day) prescription? There is no shame in needing such help, despite the Tom Cruises of the world telling us it's all in our pathetic minds.

The wife that you thought doesn't love you is worried about you, and wants to seek help together -- that is terrific! Take her up on it, but remember that there are 3 sets of problems here: your personal problems, her personal problems (you mentioned insecurity and what seems like feelings of "unworthiness"), and your problems as a couple. Do not be shocked if the counselor wants to see all three of you; that's a good thing! When choosing this professional, seek someone who has -- for lack of a better word -- a graduation rate. Hopefully you will not need this person forever, just for 3-6 months while you work everything out and get your meds regulated properly.
posted by ilsa at 9:39 AM on May 9, 2007


Markovich, Your problem is that things are too easy. The fun is never in the having, but in the acquiring. You are no longer having fun because you don't have to suffer to get things you want anymore. So you're depressed

Maybe your right. I've always thought that I was happiest when I had "dreams" and worked hard to achieve them. But I have responsibilities that don't just allow me to book a 5 week holiday.

As I said above, I realize now this is all about me and my problems - not my wife's. My wife is very unfortunate to have to put up with me.
posted by tr45vbyt at 9:45 AM on May 9, 2007


Ilsa, There is no shame in needing such help, despite the Tom Cruises of the world telling us it's all in our pathetic minds.

I've been thinking of this a lot frequently and I agree there's no shame. But isn't this used against you in many instances? For instance I just recently filled out a life insurance application where they asked if I'd ever taken anti-depressants. I keep wondering how many other places I'll get asked a similar question. What about when I try to become president (that's a joke)? I know this shouldn't affect my decision to seek meds but I just keeping hoping there's some alternate solution.
posted by tr45vbyt at 9:51 AM on May 9, 2007


This is textbook depression. TEXTBOOK.

Go get treated.

And while you are at it, maybe it's time to find God. We're all made for a purpose, and life is meaningless without it.
posted by konolia at 9:56 AM on May 9, 2007


Therapy on its own, without meds, can be extremely effective in treating depression. Medication is not required to get over depression; it helps a lot of people, obviously, but if you don't want it, don't feel you have to take it or else you'll never get better.

And this: My wife is very unfortunate to have to put up with me is unhelpful thinking. You're both extremely fortunate people with normal human foibles who need to figure out better ways of interacting with each other and the world. It doesn't have to be all-or-nothing here; all your fault or all her fault. In fact, it doesn't have to be anybody's fault at all. You love your wife, she loves you, you're both trying to find ways to help each other and the relationship. That sounds like a win for everyone involved.
posted by occhiblu at 9:57 AM on May 9, 2007


oh, and tr45vbyt, I wouldn't worry about any stigma regarding meds. If you only knew just how many people take them-it's way more common than you'd believe.

And frankly, which is worse? Having to fill out a little line, or possible divorce/suicide/general life suckiness?
posted by konolia at 9:59 AM on May 9, 2007


On preview, I find that this is super-long. Please bear with me -- I've been through some similar issues and I think that some of this may be helpful to you.

Let me start by giving you the definition of depression which has been most useful for me. Depression is, at its root, a conviction that you are worthless. And when you're depressed, everything in the world starts to look like proof of your worthlessness. Your intelligence doesn't help -- the depression is steering you, so all your intelligence just goes towards rationalizing the depression. So, to your depressed mind:

- If she says she loves you, it's only because she's insecure, deluded, [insert perfectly reasonable explanation here]. She's just covering up the truth -- that she doesn't love you and that you are un-lovable.
- If she gets angry at you, it represents the real truth -- that she doesn't love you and that you are un-lovable.
- If a marriage doesn't work, it's entirely your fault, because you are arrogant, a failure, [insert perfectly reasonable explanation here]. This just reinforces the truth -- no one loves you and you are un-lovable.
- Even if, by some accident, someone really does love you, they will soon discover the truth: that you're "an expensive looking sports car that everyone oohs and ahhs over but once they buy it they realize it doesn’t run and is a piece of junk." Once they figure this out, they will quickly stop loving you, because you are un-lovable.

Just to be clear, none of this stuff is actually true -- it's a depressed perception of the world around you. Like an anorexic who looks at her starved, skeletal body and still finds herself fat, you are seeing everything through a distorted lens.

When you're this depressed, there is nothing that anyone else can do to fix it. No matter what your wife does, you will still be convinced that she doesn't love you. Your rational mind will be able to come up with a reason why any action on her part is just further proof that you are worthless.

This sucks and is a horrible way to live. It's no wonder that you are crying and angry and hopeless. Everything you see around you is constantly reinforcing the idea that you are worthless and that there's no use even trying. And your feelings of worthlessness are not irrational -- they come from your experience. Something in your life has led you to believe that you have to be perfect in order to be worth anything. Of course, since (as a human being) it is impossible to be perfect, this will make you constantly feel worthless.

So, what can you do about this?

You need to respect your own emotions. Emotions are powerful and they are integral to being human. You're not going to be able to just "suck it up," "get over it," or rationalize it away. You have to come to terms with your feelings and find a way to make your emotions healthier -- to re-wire your emotional circuitry so that it helps you to see the world more clearly and objectively. This is a time-consuming and difficult process, and you're probably going to need some help from a good therapist.

Finally, here's a very very subjective piece of advice. YMMV, but I think you may want to avoid therapists of the cognitive behavioral flavor. Nothing against this type of therapy in general, but for what you're describing, CBT may have a couple of drawbacks. First, CBT is based on an assumption that your irrational thoughts are causing your irrational emotions -- when in fact, when you're depressed, your emotions are driving your thoughts, and both are rational (in that they are based on your past experience). Second, since CBT tends to focus on concrete tasks and assignments, it may bring out the worst of your perfectionism (and anxiety, and depression).

I hope that some of this is helpful, and I wish you the best of luck. It sounds like you have a good deal of work ahead of you, and your marriage may be suffering while you're trying to get your head straight. But it's worth it.
posted by ourobouros at 10:04 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'd like to accentuate the approach Soda takes. Imo people learn early on by osmosis what kind of behaviour equates to the feeling of being loved.
Or at least one does not choose for oneself how to draw these conclusions. It's at an emotional level, the lizard brain if you will.
So instead of the rational approach of realizing logically that she must love you because she says so etc. find out what kind of behaviour by an SO makes you feel "she loves me".

And get counseling.

I've been in similar circumstances and know how difficult these kind of situations can be.
posted by jouke at 10:06 AM on May 9, 2007


OK, tr45vbyt, enough with the self-pity. Maybe you're picking up on something subtle from your wife that all is not well, or maybe all is well and you're simply not recognizing her ways of showing love. Either way, something you can figure out with a good therapist or communications councelor.

But don't go saying that your wife is 'unfortunate to have to put up with you'. That is a red flag for depression if I've ever heard one, and you need to address it.

From the limited information you've put here, it seems to me that there is nothing so broken that you can't fix it and have a happy marriage. There are tons of tools out there, many mentioned in this thread. Good luck to you.
posted by widdershins at 10:10 AM on May 9, 2007


Ourobouros, I'll keep that in my - thanks.

Konolia, on the subject of meds do most of depression medications take effect immediately or does it take a number of days? I have a couple people close to me taking anti-depressants (one wellbutrin and the other effexor) and I was curious if a person could just try one and see what effect it has?
posted by tr45vbyt at 10:13 AM on May 9, 2007


Ourobouros that was supposed to be "keep that in mind".
posted by tr45vbyt at 10:16 AM on May 9, 2007


I was pharmaceutically treated for depression in the mid-90s; on the very rare occasions I've been asked, (usually as part of a medical history, although admittedly I have good health insurance through work, and I don't carry life insurance since I have no dependents), I've answered honestly, and it has never, to my knowledge, been used to my disadvantage. But even if it is, conquering depression is a lot more important than having to deal with increased life insurance premiums.

What about when I try to become president

I know it's a joke, but if we can elect a recovering alcoholic to be president, I think we can elect someone who has been depressed.

My wife is very unfortunate to have to put up with me.

This also sounds like depression talking.

On preview: do most of depression medications take effect immediately or does it take a number of days?

Days, possibly weeks. Also, brain chemistry is a funny thing: there's no antidepressant that works for everyone, so if the first one doesn't work for you, you might have to try something else.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:20 AM on May 9, 2007


But isn't this used against you in many instances? For instance I just recently filled out a life insurance application where they asked if I'd ever taken anti-depressants. I keep wondering how many other places I'll get asked a similar question. What about when I try to become president (that's a joke)? I know this shouldn't affect my decision to seek meds but I just keeping hoping there's some alternate solution.

You know what? I don't think I've ever had a problem stemming from the fact that I once needed a little chemical help to get over depression. Of course by way of disclaimer, I am not a doctor, lawyer, preacher, or any other sort of licensed professional that might have a need to disclose such treatment. And if you run for President? Spin it as "At least I'm man enough to admit when I have a problem and fix it."
posted by ilsa at 10:25 AM on May 9, 2007


I've never heard of wellbutrin or effexor, I'm guessing they're US brands but most antidepressants that I know of take 4-6 weeks to really take effect, though you may feel an immediate lift - purely a placebo effect from the hope you may experience at finally getting the help you need.
A qualified psychiatrist will be able to give you the right information - and the right prescription for you. I wouldnt advise self-medication of any kind.
posted by missmagenta at 10:25 AM on May 9, 2007


My wife is very unfortunate to have to put up with me.

That's the depression talking, so it's safe to ignore that thought. Really, I know you feel that way, but she is with you on this, and she's just told you so on the phone.

I wouldn't have thought that taking one anti-depressant tablet that's prescribed for someone else would be a good idea - they take longer than that to work, and a doctor can help you find something that's right for you.
posted by altolinguistic at 10:26 AM on May 9, 2007


Do not take someone else's medications. First, because taking just one pill will not work; you need to take them over a period of several weeks to feel an effect. But second, because you need to be under the supervision of a doctor, and more importantly, a therapist, in order to work through the issues that are making you depressed in the first place. Medication has its place in treating depression, but medication alone will not cure you. You need to figure out what is causing these thoughts and feelings, and that is going to take hard work and the assistance of trained professionals.
posted by decathecting at 10:29 AM on May 9, 2007


I hope you are still reading this because this is important. And I've got to run so I can't give this the time it deserves, but I am throwing my thoughts down as best I can, hope you can follow.

I'm going to give you the most personal, honest answer I am able to conjure, because my situation is not all that different from yours. Similar ages, similar outlooks, etc.

First and foremost, it is okay for you to want someone to adore you. Please reread that sentence 1000 times until it sinks in.

I am going to buck most of the stuff upthread because some people are wired one way, some people are wired another when it comes to love and affection. It is clear you and your wife are wired differently.

Take my best friend, for instance. He and his wife live like roommates. They've been together between dating and marriage like 19 years. There is almost no passion, they don't sit with each other, they may read books silently in the same room for 4 hours without speaking, they don't hold hands or hug, and they have sex on a rigid, and to me sparse, schedule.

And both of them are ecstatically happy, and I am convinced they will stay married and happy till their dying days.

Even though they are not particularly passionate, they are COMPATIBLE. This is, above all, the important factor. They are wired the same, so everything is peachy keen.

You are not COMPATIBLE with your wife. She is not a bad person. She may love you, as everyone up thread keeps pointing out, but that's not what this is REALLY about, is it?

This isn't about if your wife loves you the way she wants to love you.

This is about if your wife loves you the way YOU want her to love you!!!

And beyond that, what you're REALLY looking for is affection. Knowing she loves you is one thing, but knowing she is head over heels for you, can't keep her hands off of you, thinks of you every minute, is quite another, isn't it?

And you know what, despite all you hear to the contrary, that is okay.

I get where you are coming from. Your grandmother loves you, and you know that, but you don't want the same attention from your grandma as you do from your lover.

It is okay for you to want a woman who loves, cherishes, and simply adores you. You are a grown adult, and you get to choose how to live your life.

Lovers are different from every other relationship you ever have as an adult. You have 2 parents, 4 grandparents, possibly lots of siblings, uncles, cousins, etc. You even can have multiple children.

But, usually, you only have one mate. And it is okay to want that mate to put you on a pedestal and worship you.

The reason I say that is because, unless I'm missing the mark here badly, you do that to her. You speak of her being "stunningly gorgeous". Lots of men would say their wife was "pretty" or maybe even "beautiful". Your average Joe doesn't talk in phrases like "stunningly beautiful". I talk about my mate being "stunningly beautiful" so I think you and I are kindred spirits.

And what people in the thread don't understand is that it hurts, bad, when you pour yourself out to someone, worshipping the ground they walk on, elevating them to the heavens and proclaiming your never-ending love and adoration for them, and their response is "yeah, you're neat too".

The alternative, I suppose, is that you are distant and not loving at all towards her. If this is the case, then you don't need a therapist or us to fix this.

But, if I were a betting man, I'd lay odds that you are one of those 110% kind of guys in relationships, that you put your all into it, and you expect a rich, rewarding harvest for what you put into the relationship.

I'm with you bro. I'm with you.

It sucks. And it is depressing, to the point of being debilitating.

As far as an answer goes... I'm afraid I can't offer one, because I am lacking one myself.

I know that my wife loves me. I know she comes from a very emotionally reserved family, etc etc etc blah blah blah.

That, however, doesn't help when I feel like her roommate or financial partner as opposed to her lover. I'm gonna bet you know this feeling. I think my wife loves being married and having a family and all that, and I think she loves "her husband"... however I wonder at great lengths whether she loves *ME* as an individual.

In other words, she loves her husband because that's what wives do. And she's a great wife. Terrific even.

But there's hardly a day goes by that I don't worry if she really loves me, and there's never a day goes by that I don't lament the fact that she doesn't love me "the way I love her".

Email is in profile if you want to talk.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:30 AM on May 9, 2007


since most life insurance policies dont pay out in cases of suicide, I doubt that it would affect your premiums too much. It may affect health insurance though.
As for in other areas of life, it shouldnt be a problem.
Unless you're specifically asked, theres no need for you to ever disclose that information to anyone, and even if they ask - unless it would put you in a difficult legal position - you dont have to tell the truth.

I was on anti-depressants and in a day-care psychiatric unit in my teens and it has no negatively affected my adult life at all - its never come up.

Depression is a very common and treatable illness (especially amongst the intellectual and high acheivers - too much time to overthink everything ;) ) - you're not schizophrenic or even manic and as far as I can tell from what you've posted you're not a danger to yourself or others. Getting help will only benefit you.
posted by missmagenta at 10:32 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


YMMV, but I think you may want to avoid therapists of the cognitive behavioral flavor.

It depends. A cognitive behavioral therapist can help identify what triggers negative thoughts, help you recognize the triggers and your behavior, and change that behavior.

On the subject of meds do most of depression medications take effect immediately or does it take a number of days? I have a couple people close to me taking anti-depressants (one wellbutrin and the other effexor)

Seconding it depends, but I think you can try out the Wellbutrin immediately. In general be careful with meds, because sometimes they can make people feel worse. For instance, for some people Wellbutrin makes them feel suicidal. That said, the stuff is prescribed for quitting smoking with almost no questions asked. It's one of the less intense, dangerous drugs out there. My own reaction to Wellbutrin (I took it for smoking) was that it's more intense the first couple of days than after, so be aware of that possibility. It's a common experience with anti-depressants, unfortunately, that they work for a couple of months and then wear off. That's why you should couple them WITH life changing therapy. Use them to break habits and give you leverage to create new ones.
posted by xammerboy at 10:34 AM on May 9, 2007


Do not take someone else's medications.

In general, I would not recommend self-medication, however, in your case I would start doing something as soon as possible.
posted by xammerboy at 10:36 AM on May 9, 2007


Lots of good advice here, and you've got plenty of higher-level things to address. Here are some low-level techniques you can try today, that will help the communication issues in your relationship:

1) Don't forget to give positive reinforcement in the moment. This isn't merely stroking your wife's ego, it's giving her cues about what makes you happy. You'll see, she'll take notice of what she's doing when you're feeling warm and loved, and she'll start working those behaviors in more often, to show you she loves you in the language you best receive. Reciprocity is ideal with this technique.

2) When you feel uncomfortable and sad and bad, try not to sum it up in a big statement like "I don't feel loved". Instead, try to really get to the heart of your hurt and articulate what you're feeling. It's the difference between saying "I have a cold" and "my nose is stuffed up and there's pressure behind my eyes." This may seem trivial, but sharing your experience can help you grow closer to your wife. She'll appreciate that you're trying to reach out to her, and trying to let her in. She'll likely feel empathy toward your hurt. And after the dark episode passes, you'll look at her a little differently because she's been through the intense emotions with you, she's seen you at your worst, and she still loves you. That can be a powerful revelation if you're insecure.

3) Say what you need, and invite your wife to say what she needs. You may not honestly know what you need. Some introspective probing and some experimentation will help you figure it out. The important thing is to understand that your wife can't possibly know what you need if you don't even know.

4) Give yourself and your wife the freedom and permission to be flexible. There's a tendency when you're married and busy to put the relationship on auto-pilot. But we're people, and it's inevitable that we'll change. Your perfectionist streak probably doesn't welcome change, but in reality change is healthy. Start interrupting your thoughts when you get that "harumph" feeling, and tell yourself to default to "that's ok" (unless it's really not) instead of defaulting to "no" (unless it's really great). Changing your behavior can eventually re-train you to the point where your initial thinking will be positive. This takes a lot of work and will, but it's possible.

5) Don't be hard on yourself or your wife when you slip up. Changing yourself is hard work. Acknowledge the slip-up, take credit for your part in it, and then remember that you can't change the past. Move on mentally, and just try not to slip up again. It gets easier.

Good luck!
posted by nadise at 10:40 AM on May 9, 2007


Please don't take other people's medications. They are not magic happy pills that change you immediately upon ingestion, and the doses, etc. generally need to be tailored to your particular needs.
posted by occhiblu at 10:40 AM on May 9, 2007


I have to disagree with Ynoxas, if you are the 110% give it your all kind of guy then your wife wouldnt be approaching you wanting to know why you are sad, distant and angry.

You talk a lot about what your wife doesnt do for you but nothing about what you do for her or what she does do for you.

If she's looking after 7 children, is it any suprise that she seems like she's struggling 'to be good to you' - what does that definition entail? I know sometimes my partner will have day/weekend of spoiling me and from time to time I will do the same for him and yes it makes you feel very loved and happy when you're getting all that attention but it sound like you expect this kind of behaviour from your wife all the time - I could be wrong, but as I've said, you give no indication of what you do for her and what she does for you, expecially when you consider she is being 'good to you'.

How much affection are you showing her? If you're sad and distant enough for her to need to have it out with you (several times) then its clearly not enough. Maybe your wife feels that you dont love her.
posted by missmagenta at 10:46 AM on May 9, 2007


If you're interested in trying antidepressants to "see what effect" they have, you're best off doing it through a doctor.

Not all antidepressants have the exact same effect. Some will be calming, some will be "exciting," some will help you sleep, some will steady your nerves, some will make your day-to-day emotions feel stronger, some will make them feel muted, and so on. Many people who have been depressed for a while have a "favorite" medication whose effects work best for them. Many others have a medication or two that they hate beyond all reason, simply because its effects weren't what they needed.

A good psychiatrist can listen to your symptoms and make an educated guess as to which med and dosage will be best for you. And if that guess turns out to be wrong, a good psychiatrist will work with you to revise and fine-tune it until you're getting what you need.

If you just experiment on your own, you might get lucky and hit on the right combination, but you're more likely to get it wrong — and wind up discouraging yourself further. Besides, taking someone else's meds is illegal and just taking a single pill won't do you any good anyway. If you're going to do it, be generous to yourself and do it right — talk to an expert.

(Congratulations on confronting this shit, BTW. You're doing a big scary important thing for yourself and your wife and kids, and you deserve to succeed.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:48 AM on May 9, 2007


1) Don't forget to give positive reinforcement in the moment. This isn't merely stroking your wife's ego, it's giving her cues about what makes you happy. You'll see, she'll take notice of what she's doing when you're feeling warm and loved, and she'll start working those behaviors in more often, to show you she loves you in the language you best receive. Reciprocity is ideal with this technique.

I cant second that enough, if you're not responsive to your wife's attempts at affection then she will quickly lose interest.

Imagine making love to a new partner for the first time, when you caress their body you learn from their responses what they like and what they dont like. If they just lay their and let you get on with it - you'd probably be much less interested in seeing them again. Its the same in all aspects of life, if you can see that your wife is trying hard to please you then show her (and tell her) that you appreciate it. You might get all warm and glowy inside from the attention but she deserves some too and she will get that from knowing her affections are not going unappreciated
posted by missmagenta at 10:53 AM on May 9, 2007


nthing depression; you sound exactly like my ex-wife in the throes of it, in terms of feeling unloved despite the external evidence. Get thee to a competent psychiatrist and/or therapist. You are anything but a lost cause. (The aforementioned split was due to the depression)

And also, do not take antidepressants except under the strict care of a doctor. And never stop them except under such strict care, either.
posted by stevis23 at 10:55 AM on May 9, 2007


I have to disagree with Ynoxas, if you are the 110% give it your all kind of guy then your wife wouldnt be approaching you wanting to know why you are sad, distant and angry.

You get distant and angry because after X years of 110% you don't feel reciprocation.

Not saying that is the issue here for sure, just my take on things.
posted by Ynoxas at 11:23 AM on May 9, 2007


Thanks again to everybody for all of the answers.

Since it looks like I'm probably depressed I was reading online about depression and found some information indicating that cannabis can act as an antidepressant. I've never tried marijuana but has anybody had experience with it working as an antidepressant?
posted by tr45vbyt at 11:23 AM on May 9, 2007


Dude, weed is not your answer. Go get meds, or therapy, or something, pronto! But not weed, god, that's all you need with 7 kids in the house....
posted by tristeza at 11:37 AM on May 9, 2007


I cannot stress this enough - cannabis is not an anti-depressant - quite the opposite. It is a depressant.

While there is evidence to suggest that a chemical found in cannabis can relieve depression and anti-anxiety (in rats) this is not the same as saying street level cannabis is an anti-depressant.

Cannabis is a complex sustance, there is a chemical in it that acts as an anti-psychotic, but there is also a chemical in it that can trigger psychosis. As will all illegal substances, you dont know what you're getting in terms of chemical composition.

While the odd spliff might ease anxiety that can cause depression, it is not a substitute for the correct medication. Your issue doesnt sound like anxiety either, crippling sadness is not the same as stress and getting stoned is unlikely to make you feel any better.

You need to stop making excuses and looking for easy answers. Get to a doctor immediately.
posted by missmagenta at 11:37 AM on May 9, 2007


I have had great success with healing all types of emotional issues (and their physical symptoms) using Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). EFT has become one of my favorite tools on my self-help tool belt.

Specific references to Depression can be found here. And some relationship tips are here.
posted by Bradley at 11:43 AM on May 9, 2007


There's some really great advice here. I recognize your feelings. I've been there.

1. Don't self-medicate - there is no shame in seeing a doctor and getting a prescription. Your brain is physically different when you are depressed. You need to take medication to make it shift gears. See a doctor.

2. Negative thoughts spiral down. Positive thoughts spiral up. You feel something. Recognize the feeling. Understand where it's coming from. Express and articulate the feeling. Choose how to respond to it. Ultimately, it's the only choice you have.

3. If you don't have an exercise regimen, start one.

4. No matter how successful you are, how gorgeous your wife is, you are fallible, like everyone else in the world. It's ok. Thinking you should be perfect (and president) is setting yourself up for a life of disappointment.
posted by idb at 11:47 AM on May 9, 2007


Weed in this case could magnify your paranoia and sense of helplessness. I agree you should see a doctor, but keep in mind doctors don't know much themselves about these drugs in the same way they don't know why aspirin works. It just does. It's all an experiment.
posted by xammerboy at 11:51 AM on May 9, 2007


You will never have what you want. Objectively, you have enough of a good thing. Your task is to learn to appreciate it.

Accepting that you won't ever have what you want will be painful. Learning to appreciate what you do have will be an amazing and glorious adventure.

To enjoy this adventure keep a clear head. Exercise. Pay attention. Life is in the details.
posted by ewkpates at 12:03 PM on May 9, 2007


You tell us quite a bit of you; you're not telling us about your wife. Is she stressed? Kids? 2nd marriage pressures? What about the rest of your life and struggles.

Listen to this: She has told me that she feels she’ll never be good enough for me.

Sit down with your wife. Tell her you love her. Tell her you sometimes feel like:
a) you're a shitty communicator
b) you struggle to interpret her (and you desperately desire this.)

That's right, open that you're not the golden child, that something don't come easy. You're human.

Basically: you want to say, that the marriage isn't threatened, you're not looking to leave, but instead you feel like you're failing to be as close as you'd like to be, and if there's something you want to be good at in a marriage, it's that.

At this point, bring up a good couples therapist. You're both giving each other mixed messaged (and interpreting them differently.) You need a stable outside person to help you decode each other (and teach each other how to figure this out.)

How do you find one? Two ways - talk to any of the therapists that you felt were 'decent'; or ask friends whose marriages you know have struggled and had their problems resolved through therapy.
posted by filmgeek at 12:04 PM on May 9, 2007


tr45vbyt, you're all over the place. You're looking for a magic bullet. Online looking for pot? Are you serious? That's the last thing you need. Do you think your wife will be suddenly overcome with love for you when she finds you lounged out on the couch, potato chip crumbs on your chest, while your 7 kids wreak havoc everywhere?

You are trying to leapfrog beyond the starting point - typical overachiever thing to do (I am one, I get it). Sorry to say it, but this is one step at a time.

Plan of action:

1. Get off the internet right now and start making phone calls. First, call your primary doctor and tell them you think you have depression and you'd like to be screened, and sooner rather than later. They may or may not recommend drugs - if you're wary of taking drugs, say that honestly and let them know you'd like to explore other options unless they recommend otherwise. (I did that once and got strongly recommended to go onto an exercise program - since then, exercise has managed my mood pretty well. There is plenty of research showing that in many cases exercise alone is as or more effective than medication). Anyway, don't try someone else's meds. It's pointless. Someone else's meds are not likely to be right for you, and you can't just take one anyway. They're not Pop-Rocks, they don't act immediately. They build in the body and need a few weeks to take effect. There are reasons for choosing product and dosage for specific people, which it's your doctor's profession to know.

Second, start looking for a therapist today. You can ask your doctor for therapist recommendations for both individual and couples counseling (they should have referrals). You can also ask a trusted friend or two if they know of anyone. You'd be surprised. Or you can just pick up a phone book and start looking around. Make a list of ones that are close to your home and office. Call them and ask about who treats problems like yours, and what approaches they use. Read this little Psychology Today piece on how to choose a therapist, or any other pieces online. This is how to use your smarts and your problem-solving drive - start moving toward treatment and therapy.

You can also call your wife and thank her for giving you a push to get some help. You can look at the 'love languages' site and learn from that. You can find online quizzes for it and you and your wife can both take the test so you can find out if you do have different ways of expressing love.

Just get started -- assume that your depression is doing most of the thinking right now, and stop letting it be in charge. Short-circuit this one and just call your doc. Start the process. You may feel an immediate lift just knowing you are doing something to improve things. You're being brave. If you do these things, it will get better. It really will. But you already have all the answers here that are likely to help you. You can do it. Get going now. Good luck!

I just recently filled out a life insurance application where they asked if I'd ever taken anti-depressants. I keep wondering how many other places I'll get asked a similar question.

Listen, just lie. I've Don't let this fuzz your thinking - it is a minor issue. taken mood drugs a couple times in my life, and no one needs to know that except my doctor. I don't list it on forms at all. It's not information most people have a right to know; not even a new insurance company.

Of course, I can't run for president anyway, since I comment too much on MetaFilter.
posted by Miko at 12:05 PM on May 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


I wouldnt recommend lying on anything as important as life or health insurance - any excuse for them not to pay up
posted by missmagenta at 12:40 PM on May 9, 2007


Of course, being honest can also be such an excuse. I among that 13% choose the former way in light of the fact that so few claims are investigated.
posted by Miko at 1:17 PM on May 9, 2007


This is how to use your smarts and your problem-solving drive - start moving toward treatment and therapy.

This is excellent advice.

About pot: don't use pot for this. For one thing, why would you prefer pot over prescribed medicine in a course of treatment that a doctor is overseeing? (Especially if you're worried about filling out applications!) For another thing, the information about marijuana online is not terribly reliable, since so many people on both sides have an interest in getting their own propaganda out there. Set aside the thinking about pot for now. Call your doctor.

A final thought: one of the symptoms of depression is to make excuses for why you can't get treatment. "I'll try pot instead"; "I'm so worthless that my doctor won't see me"; "the bus schedule makes it hard for me to get to the doctor's office"; "I don't feel comfortable calling the doctor's office"; "I can't afford the time to go to the appointment" etc. These are just excuses. There's no reason not to go to the doctor and talk to them honestly about your situation. After all, you recognize that this is having a bad effect on your life, right? So, if it was a problem with your thyroid gland, you would just go to the doctor and explain, right?
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:48 PM on May 9, 2007


You don't necessarily have to see a shrink to get treated for depression. Granted, I think eventually you'll have to find a good couples therapist, but in the meantime, your regular doctor can prescribe anti-depressants. Tell him your symptoms, the crying, the anger, etc. He might give you a written questionnaire to fill out. Answer it honestly. As everyone else said, anti-depressants aren't a magic bullet, but they can definitely help to lift that black cloud over your head and clear your mind enough to motivate you to seek further help.

I wish you and your family the very best of luck.
posted by Oriole Adams at 3:35 PM on May 9, 2007


Your wife loves you.

You're trying to control the relationship (part of being a perfectionist) and because it's not going your way you are translating the outcome as "my wife does not love me."

Grow up, stop trying to make people do behave as you expect, stop making everything about you and learn to trust.

I don't think this is depression, I think it is childishness. You've got three options here. Go with it and believe your wife. Split up with your wife, or continue treating her the way you are. (in which case, she'll probably be forced to leave you).
posted by seanyboy at 4:09 PM on May 9, 2007


I disagree with seanyboy. Try an antidepressant. If it works for you, you will know it. If it doesn't work, try another. If a few rounds of this don't fix it, then maybe it's childishness. But the first hypothesis, based on what you've said here, is to go talk to doc.

It's tempting, when you're depressed, to think "I should be able to snap out of this; if only I were tougher, or could jsut grow up". But once you've gone around in circles with that kind of thinking for a while, it should be clear that it's not actually working and it's time to try something else.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:56 PM on May 9, 2007


I lucked out with my relationship, mostly. Both my husband and I express love primarily through touchy-feely. I need to be held to feel loved, above all else. I appreciate being told verbally I am loved, and doing things for me unprompted also makes me feel loved, but above all, I need hugs. My husband is also like this - end result is that we spend an awful lot of time holding hands, kissing, hugging, and basically being in physical contact.

I have a good friend, who is also a touchy-feely type. Her now-husband is ... not. He feels loved by someone doing things for him. Over the course of 2 years, I saw them hug precisely once - and this was at a time when I was spending an awful lot of time with them. It was a major issue in their relationship for some time - she really doesn't feel loved if she doesn't get enough touch, and he doesn't feel loved unless she's done enough things for him. They've worked it out, now, with compromise, and recognising each other's needs.

Basically, from my internet armchair opinion, what it looks like is that you're a tactile person, in terms of love; you mention your wife not coming up and touching you spontaneously as something you miss. She may think that because she's doing housework and looking after the kids that she is demonstrating love for you 24/7, and maybe that you don't love her because you aren't participating enough in that sphere of activity. I don't think you're a bad husband, or she's a bad wife, here; I think that there is a lack of communication about what each other needs in your relationship. The book mentioned upthread, on Love Languages, may be valuable in this instance, as also may couple therapy be. I suggest (very strongly) that you see your doctor, and find a therapist both yourself and your wife are comfortable with, as soon as possible.
posted by ysabet at 6:51 PM on May 9, 2007


You're in pain and looking for external reasons for it, reasons which might not exist in any real sense. Go to a doctor, get a full check-up. Then think about expanding your life through either art or exercise. Failing that, see a psychiatrist.
posted by macinchik at 7:26 PM on May 9, 2007


I skipped straight to the bottom of the list to write my own answer, I didn't even check to see whether someone else may have suggested this -- please please please check out "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman.

What is beyond clear is that you both speak two different languages when it comes to expressing your love for each other, and likely don't even know what the others' is.

This is the best answer. I will personally buy you this book.
posted by vanoakenfold at 1:58 PM on May 10, 2007


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