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May 5, 2015

Ask Me Anything: Wife Needs To Offer More to Depressed Husband. {Weekly Advice Column}

couch potato

Dear Elephants,

Welcome to this week’s Ask Me Anything, where no question is out of bounds! To submit questions for next week, please email me at [email protected].

I look forward to hearing from you!

Dear Erica,

I am a 35 year old mother of two—one 15-year-old and one 6-year-old. I’m an aesthetician and I love my job. I have a large group of friends and sing in my church choir. I love my life and really feel that as I get older I only am filled with more and more energy.

The problem is my husband is the exact opposite. We got married when we were 20-years-old and, back then, he laughed and liked to do things. Now, he just sits on the couch and watches movies and drinks beer. He does nothing to try and enjoy his life or share anything with me. He never laughs and barely even talks to me anymore.

He looks 20-years-older than me, even though he is the same age. People mistake him for my father!

I have tried to suggest activities for him, but he will never budge. If he would just go for a walk with me I think it would make a difference. I am getting tired of living with someone who is not even engaged in his own life. It’s bringing me down. I can’t imagine going on like this for another 35 years.

Financially, I would be fine on my own. It would be hard, but I could get by. Every day I think about leaving him, but I feel guilty, like there is something else I should be doing.

If I did leave, would that make me a terrible person? Something has to change.

~ Forever Young

Dear Forever Young,

It sounds like you are enjoying a personal renaissance—kind of like the reverse of a midlife crisis. Good for you!

I can understand how challenging it must be to feel so positive when your partner feels so down. The two of you are spinning in totally different orbits.

I think it’s safe to say, your husband is clinically depressed. Because depression is a legitimate medical disorder and should be viewed as such, you need to do more than suggest walks to help him.

Start by making him an appointment with your general practitioner and make sure you go together. He will need you to advocate on his behalf and to give your perspective on his behavior and how it has changed over the years.

The doctor will likely suggest he see either a psychiatrist, a therapist or both. Encourage him to follow through, offering to drive him to these appointments and wait while he is there. Be willing to attend these sessions as well if he or his doctor think it would be helpful.

Your husband may or may not be prescribed medication. If he is, again, be supportive and encouraging. Finding the right meds to treat depression can be a long and frustrating process.

If you see your husband trying to take part in his recovery that’s a great sign. If you don’t, you’ll have some tough decisions to make.

The two of you have been together for many years and you are in a unique position to help change the course of his life. But, if he refuses to try and help himself, you may have to move on to fulfill the potential of your own.

Dear Erica,

What can you do when you like almost everything about a person, but their personal hygiene makes you sick?

I’ve been dating this guy for about three months and he is great. He’s smart, funny and into me. But the way he eats, chewing his food with his mouth open, the way his socks are always dirty and crusty and the way his breath smells is totally grossing me out.

I’ve hinted at what he needs to change, but he never seems to get it. If I ask him to chew with his mouth shut, he will for about two bites and then goes right back to his normal ways. I could probably handle all of it except the bad breath. It makes me not want to be near him. And it’s embarrassing.

Can this seriously be a deal breaker?

~ Nauseated

Dear Nauseated,

Personally, this can totally be a deal breaker.

If, a mere three months into your relationship, your boyfriend is consistently driving you crazy, embarrassing you and nauseating you, the future doesn’t look bright.

Before you give up on him, you may choose to sit down and have a really awkward conversation. You say, “Boyfriend, I know this may sound petty, but if we’re going to stay together a few things have to change.”

Then explain exactly what you need from him.

If he steps up to the plate, great, problem solved. If he doesn’t, don’t feel guilty as you pack up his dirty socks and the jumbo tube of toothpaste he never used and fare him well.

~

Relephant Reads:

Ask Me Anything: “My Husband Doesn’t Find Me Attractive Anymore.” {Weekly Advice Column}

~

Author: Erica Leibrandt

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Image: flickr

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