A Special Word for When Your Spouse Struggles With Depression

Always the Fight Ministries: Displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse. (c)2019Nancy Virden

If your spouse is experiencing depression, a sense of helplessness may bring you to question, “What can I say? What should I not say?” Along with frustration at a husband’s inability to take care of himself, or a wife’s withdrawal form interaction, you may feel anger, fear, guilt, and sadness. All these emotions are normal.

You are in a unique position of trying to balance between inadvertently causing more pain or being the chief encourager and helper. Most likely your spouse wants to lean on you, maybe heavily. You notice that little things you do or don’t do, words you say or don’t say, seem to carry far more weight than you want them too. You observe that the one with depression is fragile.

Go ahead and reach out for someone to listen to your experiences, and to validate that you matter too. Taking care of your own emotional health is not selfish. Having your needs met is as necessary as air. Here are a few helpful ideas based on my experiences with this issue.

 1) Make sure you are not alone. Have at least one person in your life you can talk to about what you are experiencing. This may be a friend or counselor, or through a support group (NAMI has groups for families.) Al-Anon is great if your spouse is also struggling with substance use. Check out the resources page on this website.

2) Have some fun. Maybe you enjoy a hobby or activity- make time and do it. Go out with friends to a movie or whatever.

3) Don’t discount the little joys. Perhaps the two of you enjoy a moment, a day, a good week. Don’t dismiss that- these are all solid steps toward recovery even if a slide backward occurs afterward.

4) Speak up for yourself. Gently talk about how you’re feeling before pent-up emotions make it too hard to communicate with sensitivity. It’s okay to let your hurting spouse know what you need.

Husbands and wives have a special job to do. If Jesus Christ is our example, take a look at how he supports his beloved people who struggle: 

He does not make all our decisions for us
He does not live our life for us
He maintains his identity
He asks us to tell him what we need.
He offers forgiveness
He listens
He is patient, kind, gentle, and faithful.
Most of all, he is present.


Today’s Helpful Word

Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. (for international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!

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