Tips for a great marriage despite the symptoms of depression
Depression can play a serious role in how a couple functions within the marriage. I’ve worked for several years with couples who function fairly well until a bout of depression comes in. Sometimes, its the wife who struggles with depression, sometimes the husband, and in rare cases both the husband and wife have a diagnosis of depression.
Symptoms of depression include feelings of hopelessness, isolation, loss of interest in daily activities, and anger or irritability. This means that when one spouse experiences depression, they are highly likely to push the other away. Clearly depression can wreak havoc on your relationship.
Luckily, there are many ways that you can lessen your symptoms of depression! Here is my list of ten things to try when you are feeling depressed.
#1. Find the Source
This can be a tough one. Sometimes there are readily identifiable stresses, while at other times it can be nearly impossible to find a reason that you are experiencing a low mood. If you experience a low mood often, seek assistance in finding what the problem may be. This means getting labs drawn with your physician, getting assessed for medical issues that may play a role (thyroid is a big one to check and so are hormones in general), assessing your sleeping patterns (lack of sleep can cause mood and energy issues), and thinking about family history. Do you have genetic links that make you more susceptible to depression? Be your number one advocate and keep a mood chart to determine if there are patterns involved in your low mood states. Here is one you can use with some great tips about tracking your progress.
I recently finished the book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. It’s such a great book that I’m going through it a second time. While the concepts in the book are most likely to be embraced as a way to work less and achieve more, the author makes it clear that his concept of living and working only for the essential things in life applies to all areas of one’s existence.
What’s essentialism have to do with marriage?
There are some incredible parallels that can be made regarding marriage. My favorite is directly linked the to the author’s main idea. He believes that entrepreneurs can have success when they focus on the right thing instead of trying to accomplish everything. I can’t even begin to count the number of couples I’ve worked with that come to session wanting to work on ALL of the problems that they have. Often, I’ll tell the couple that we need to focus on one issue – the one that is most important.
But, for many couples, everything is incredibly important. How do you know what to start with?
Do you work on communication? How about conflict resolution? Maybe building your friendship or your intimate lives is priority?
Figuring out the “big picture” is an important part of having an essential lifestyle. In marriage, solving the main problem is key to achieving success or meeting your marriage goals, whatever they may be.
Here’s the key to figuring out the big picture when you’re struggling in your marriage.
In the video below, I share my thoughts on creating an environment of success by working on the most important marriage issue first.
Question: Going back to the burner illustration, do you need to turn up the marriage burner and turn off one of the others temporarily? What step will you take to make that happen?
Why playing together can drastically change your marriage!
Did you know that there are huge psychological benefits to play? Sadly, many adults forget how to engage in playing behaviors and instead live a life of work, work, work. If your marriage is void of play, you’ll probably find that you just don’t enjoy it too much. So, to help you out (since that’s what I love to do), I’m going to tell you the benefits of play and give you some thoughts on how you can have more of it in your marriage.
Play increases your ability to be creative.
Why might creativity be important in marriage? Think back to your last ugly argument or annoyance you had with your spouse. When we lack creativity, we lose the ability to problem-solve. When you can’t solve your couple problems, you start to believe that your marriage is harder than most people’s or that just maybe you married the wrong person. You begin to think that the reason your marriage is tough is because you always argue. Not true, friend. Arguments are quite a bit less painful when you figure out how to come to a solution together and learn how not to have the same argument later. Creativity plays an amazing role in allowing you to think outside of the box, be a team, and fight your problems instead of fighting one another.
Tips for When You Disagree About the Frequency of Sex
Many, many couples face what’s known as a desire discrepancy or a desire gap. One spouse wants sex more often than the other. Statistics seem to show that in about 1/3 of marriages, the wife has the higher level of desire and in the other 2/3 of marriages the husband has the higher level.
There are times when a gap like this can cause quite a bit of conflict in the couple. The couple may begin to argue more in general because they are connecting less often physically, or they may even begin fighting directly about sex.
Luckily, there is hope! If you and your spouse have been arguing about sex, or if you just feel like the two of you disagree on how often you should have sex, watch this 6.5 minute video for some advice on lessening the gap or gaining some compromise.
If watching this video makes you want to seek out some extra help, I encourage you to contact the American Board of Christian Sex Therapists to find a counselor in your area. They can help you resolve issues related to your marriage and your intimate lives.