Living with a spouse who has depression can be difficult to deal with, especially if you are unsure of what to say and do to make things better when they’re having a bad day. Depression is a condition that requires endless amounts of patience, support, communication and above all else, true and sincere love. The following five methods offer support to a spouse living with depression in ways that are simple yet effective.
1. Give them space
The key to understanding this method of support is in the knowledge that “space” can have many different meanings. Giving someone space can mean letting them be on their own for a while but it can just as easily mean that the person needs you around them but in an unobtrusive way. Be sure to speak to your partner to fully understand what they imply when they ask for space. Gently ask questions and determine whether or not they want to be completely on their own. This will help both you and your spouse to strengthen your relationship and practice effective and truthful communication.
2. Plan ahead
Take time to sit together and talk on a day when your spouse is feeling upbeat and optimistic. Have a discussion about what they would prefer for you to do and say on a day when they are feeling down, or simply how to interpret their actions and feelings on a day when they are feeling especially depressed. This will also help you cope on days that your spouse is feeling down as you will be prepared to react appropriately to what they are experiencing.
3. Don’t take it personally
Depression can affect all aspects of the relationship between you and your spouse including physical touch, emotional needs, and even daily communication. People with depression are inclined to distance themselves and this could easily feel like a loss of interest in the relationship. You might even feel as if it is your fault but remind yourself that depression is a serious condition, one in which your loved one requires constant love and affirmation to ensure a successful path to recovery.
4. Seek therapy together
When one or both people in a relationship suffer from depression, professional therapy and counselling are important vehicles to help ensure open communication and mutual understanding. This article explains the link between depression and divorce. Feelings of resentment, hurt, frustration and anger that often arise when a spouse has depression can lead to ignorance of the condition, which in turn acts to drive a wedge in the relationship. This eventually results in difficult situations such as financial problems, health complications and even divorce.
5. Love them unconditionally
Perhaps the most important – and most difficult – way to support a spouse living with depression is to love them to the best of your ability. Loving them does not mean smothering them or overwhelming them with questions. Rather, the simple act of listening to what they are feeling or performing small but significant acts of service can go a long way in supporting them. The best method is to love them in their own love language.