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How does depression affect marriage counseling?

Published on August 7, 2010 by benbree

My wife and I recently started seeing a marriage counselor because my wife states that during the last two years I pushed her away and treated her poorly. My wife feels that because of my actions during this period she cannot trust herself and her feelings with me. During the first few sessions, our counselor suggested that my wife write a list of things she felt I needed. She did not do this. Our sessions now focus on me committing to her and the counselor that I hurt her and how I did it. I admitted to pushing her away occasionally during this time. I tell her that the reason for this was because of my desire to find a job during this time - I was unemployed and sometimes distracted by this. I tell her I will do anything to move pass this to happiness and ask her what can I do. Could you provide some ideas why my wife focuses so much on this? She recently sent me a note, some internet stuff, and insisted that if I understood her depression better, this would help me to stop hurting her. Is that true? How does depression affect our relationship?



Depression should be taken seriously. It can cause a “dampening” of feelings and make her feel isolated and alone. Your wife may feel a bit detached from life and from you (as though she were watching a movie instead of living life) as well as sadness, hopelessness and dejection. The emotional distance that resulted from your unemployment, your distraction by looking for work, and the stress that such a situation can create has either made her depression worse or has been a contributing cause—I can’t tell from what you’ve written. Regardless, depression can most definitely affect your relationship. If your wife is clinically depressed, she needs professional help. I'm glad to hear that you're getting counseling.

As to why your wife continues to “focus” on your admitting that you hurt her and how, my guess is that she doesn’t yet believe you get it. Until she does, she won’t be able to move on. So, giving her the explanation, i.e., that you were distracted by looking for work, has not satisfied her need for you to truly understand her feelings, how hurt she’s been, and why she’s been hurt. Until you truly do understand and she’s confident of that, your assurances that you’ll do anything won’t be enough for the two of you to move forward.

Continue with the counseling even if at times it may feel that progress is slow. When trust has been breached—and treating your wife poorly is a breach of trust—it takes time to rebuild. Give it that time and if you truly want your relationship to flourish, then be trustworthy in every way, and that includes treating her in the best way possible at all times.

I hope this helps. Good luck.

Shela Dean