Often, we are so preoccupied with ourselves that we do not notice if our partner is suffering from an affliction like depression. And even if we do notice that they are not themselves, we just get angry since the depressed partner is not able to address our needs.
I was married to a man who was financially broke and borderline depressed. In the beginning of our marriage, I was fine with his passivity because he was always letting me make all the decisions, large and small. I owned and ran a construction company and made good money.
But, as time moved on and we had to navigate bigger decisions, like selling my house, moving, career changes and his health limitations, his attitude became stressful and I became angry.
Yet I was not in touch with my anger. It showed up as withdrawal of affection and my husband and I became like roommates, not lovers or two people committed to each other 'till death do us part.
I am very nurturing, and taking care of him started to wear me down. I was not getting my needs met and was too afraid to admit I had chosen poorly for my second marriage. I was angry, but since I was not allowed to express my anger when I was a child, I withdrew, and became a walking shadow of myself. My feelings were subtle but lethal. The lights were on, but nobody was home.
We did not have a base of emotional intimacy, so we never talked about how my mood or attitude had changed. As a result, I wasn't able to address my feelings with him and get better.
The tipping point came when we were in Mexico. I was selling mortgages to Americans purchasing second homes in Cabo.
In that resort town, I saw other couples acting like they were in love (what was that? I wondered) and there was genuine electricity between them. I just felt deadness towards my husband. I kept thinking something was wrong with me, and that it was my fault.
But, one evening watching the sunset, I allowed myself to admit how I felt, which was miserable. I finally came to the conclusion that my marriage was no longer working and that it was time to end it for good. Looking back to those years and replaying those conversations in my head, I am almost embarrassed that I, with all of my emotional sophistication, was flat out terrified to be honest with myself.
When we came home and I sat with my husband and told him that it was over. He agreed. Eight months late, we signed our divorce papers and I've never looked back. Divorce was something I had to experience so that I could move on to have the kind of relationship I had witnessed on the Cabo beaches.
Where did my fear come from?
It came from not trusting my instincts or myself. I never felt entitled to deserve more. So it was not a shock that I married a man who was a borderline depressant. My inability to trust myself came from years of being criticized and judged by my family. Being authentic and genuine was never acceptable. I had to adapt in order to survive.
But time has moved on. I am with a different a man who sees me for me and who really gets me. I have moved beyond my childhood insecurities into a bright and happy future.
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