Depressed Spouse

Hi all -

I haven't been actively posting on ILIASM the past few months but I have been lurking and reading your stories and comments and posting a comment here and there.

For those of you who don't know/remember me. . . . . . . .I've been married 4 1/2 years, sexless for 5+ years.  Like most of us here, hubby and I had (what I thought) was good and meaningful sex in the beginning of our relationship.  Then excuses came, and here I am.  He is well aware of the hurt that this is causing.  We found out several months ago that he has dysthymia (a form of constant, low-grade depression) and that this may be contributing to his lack of desire and overall motivation.  He has been seeing a therapist for this, and I have started talking to a counselor as well to find better ways to cope with my sexless marriage (I realized drinking wasn't a good coping mechanism for me. . . . LOL).  I am no longer pretending like this situation is ok because "everything else in the marriage is good".

To add insult to injury, he used to be affectionate with me and we used to have at least some intimacy, in the form of pillow talk, joking around, etc.  Not much, and definitely what I long for and need.  Now, he won't even give me affection or engaged in everyday conversation, nonetheless any "pillow talk".  This has been going on for 6 months now. 

My questions are these. . . . . . . . . . do you have any affection in your marriages?  Or at least a partnership/shared vision outside of the bedroom?  I feel like a roommate.   I want to give him time to work on the things that are going on within him, with the hopes that eventually we will be able to work on our marriage together. But I don't know how long I can keep going like this.  In the meantime, wouldn't even a depressed spouse be capable of having empathy for my position in the marriage, and be able to give me some sort of affection/intimacy?  I do not know much about depression so any insights you offer would be appreciated :)


konaprincess konaprincess
31-35, F
12 Responses Feb 3, 2010

Please if you find out anything let me know, I just got married and this is happening. So frustrated and feel like I'm going to pop.

Thanks for reaching out to me LIW and enna! I will be posting an update to my story soon =)

Kona, I'm wondering how things are with you. . . ? Could you give us an update at some time please? I hope things have improved for you my friend. . . .

My husbands depression is that bad that I cannot speak to him - especially about my feelings and Its killing me. We've been separated for a few months now, he's living with family and Im feeling like - what do I do? How can I be wife, friend, support network and look after myself at the same time???? My husband is making extremely slow progress with counselling and just started taking meds. He's still isolating but appears to enjoy seeing me when he does (even if he's doom and gloom). <br />
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Im asking myself now how long am I meant to wait around? He thinks one day we will reconcile. I am unsure, the longer we're apart the more we become friends and the great divide is forming. Im trying to live my life and be happy as well as support him from afar but its so tough! Im really feeling it emotionally today and Im supposed to see him tonight... <br />
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I will start getting some counselling for myself I think. Sometimes I feel that I want him to get better more than he does... What if in two months time I can't do it anymore and want to walk away? Where do we draw that line in the sand...?!

Thank you all for your insights.<br />
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KFC - I truly never thought of it like that before. I sat down with my husband for a talk tonite and brought that up. I told him to take some time to think about it, ponder a bit, and asked for him to be frank with me if he thinks that may be part of the problem.<br />
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Wish us luck! =)

Dear Kona:<br />
Your update has brought back so much of my own pain, I feel compelled to share with you.<br />
Shortly after my STBX and got married, he started falling into a deep dark depression. As it was our relationship was not in any way affectionate and about 97% sexless. I hung in there for almost 6 years, while I watched him fall deeper and further away from me. I knew what was happening and I begged him to see someone with me and alone.<br />
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He finally went to see a "therapist" who supposedly taught him to meditate. For a short while his mood improved a little. <br />
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Kona this may come accross as harsh, but it's what I had to face in my own marriage. Did it ever occur to you that his life, married to you, his inability to be a good husband, and his own self-hatred is causing his depression? Have you thought about the fact that you might be adding enough stress and pressure to his life to cause him to be "miserable". Now don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying it's your fault. Let me see if I can explain.<br />
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I think my husband knew almost from day one that he was not capable of ever being a good husband to me, but for whatever the reason he went ahead with the plan. The more I loved him, and stood by him and gave away myself, the further away he moved from me. It was entirely his stuff, but I took it on. My ob<x>jective became to save him and his ob<x>jective became to be left alone.<br />
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Around the Holiday (X-mas) we had dinner. We are inthe process of divorce, but still remain friendly. He told me that in the past few months (we don't have daily contact anymore, we don't get together socially really and we are leading separate lives) that he feels relieved. He wouldn't elaborate on it, but he didn't have to. He doesn't feel the constant pressure any more of being "married" and having to give something to someone else that not only doesn't he have to give, but doesn't want to give.<br />
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I don't tell people to leave their marriage, or bail out, or not to try. You need to know; however, for your own sanity and self preservation, when enough is enough. I am broken, and I know it. Every day now is a small amount of healing for me because I poured so much of me into that relationship that I had nothing left. Don't let that happen to you. You can't save him, so know when it's time to save yourself.

Like Kdog, my depression didn't kill or even suppress my libido. I would have welcomed more affection at that time as i would have reassured me that I was going to be all right. I also remember worrying about how my depression was affecting him!<br />
If you eventually want a family with children ask yourself if he would be the best father for those children. How much time are you willing to wait for him to get better(if he does) before you see to your own needs? He should be welcoming your support, not pushing you away.

Hi konaprincess,<br />
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I am familiar with dysthymia. It can be a blessing or a curse; on one hand, if it really is what is going on, there could be ways to treat it. On the other hand, it seems to be the catch-all diagnosis by less-experienced therapists who may not recognize some of the subtler symptoms of other emotional issues. And it can also mask other issues which might be more at the root cause of the problem.<br />
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I'm not an M.D. or a psychologist, but because I've been down a similar road to you, I wound up reading a lot about all this stuff. Hopefully it might be of some help.<br />
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Make sure that your husband is seeing someone qualified, or else his therapy could go on endlessly without progress. A psychologist or therapist can not prescribe medication, however, so if there is a question about whether that might help, then he should also be seeing a psychiatrist (M.D.) who can evaluate that. An M.D. with additional holistic training might even be the best bet, since it is not uncommon for dysthymia to be helped by altering your diet, exercise, and with the right vitamin intake.<br />
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It's good that your husband has started by seeing a therapist, though, and especially great that you are seeing one to help yourself deal with all this. It's what I had to do as well. It took years to get my wife to consent to seeing someone for her no-desire issues, but I found that I also needed to see someone (separately) to help me deal with the rejection / emotional trauma that this put me through. It's an incredibly hard thing to carry around in secret every day.<br />
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To answer your question about general affection -- in my case, there was some affection, but more of a sibling type affection. Nothing ever too intimate, because that could possibly lead to me trying to come on to her, which would obviously result in an undesirable outcome (for her). However, your question about "partnership / shared vision" really hits home for me. I have been reading this board for a long time, but have not heard anyone bring up this point before. I only came to realize that our problems extended well beyond intimacy, and were much more pervasive -- the idea of having a shared life together, a shared sense of purpose and direction, a "plan" for our lives, that sort of thing -- I didn't realize how much this had been missing from my wife until the sexlessness forced me to take a hard, ob<x>jective look at our relationship. The fact that you are observing this, also... well, I can relate, and you are not alone.<br />
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Like k14571's post hints... everyone is different and what is normal or average just doesn't matter when you are in a sex drive mismatch situation... <br />
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That our sex rejecting/sex neglecting spouses are oblivious to our need and the pain we suffer to have to live without the joys of being wanted intimately by someone who says they love us it mind boggling. <br />
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I too have had the roommate impression of my wife's desire for me... and I have to get in bed next to this woman that I can't have as a man wants to have a woman... and it has been over five and a half years... sure there is for me a minimal degree of affection, but it's almost like a sisterly love... devoid of sex as it is...<br />
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I don't get it... all I know is that it sucks.<br />
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hugs,<br />

I don't know what is typical, but I went through a period (a year or more)of depression after my mom died and I never stopped wanting affection or sex.

I have an great empathy for you and commend you highly for your forbearance and infinite patience shown toward your husband. While I know that depression is a terrible malady I should think that after five years of total abstinence of sexual intimacy a resolution of some sort should have been instituted, by you or your affected spouse. To do nothing makes no sense to me and if you are now aware of the cause of this dilemma, not to seek help for this is abject nonsense.<br />
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I personally cannot see the correlation between depression and one's inability to show some outward ex<x>pression of love toward their married partner. While depression may be an illness it is still by my definition a self absorbed, self indulgent state of mind that excludes others from themselves. However, with professional advice and effort it can be cured or at least medicated. .<br />
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Please seek out professional help if this the answer for it. You have a sad tale you tell which from my perspective which may just grow a sadder one over time.if no effort to change occurs.

konaprincess,<br />
I often have bouts of depression none more than in the last two years. One underlying reason why I may suffer from depression is my lifelong speech impediment, namely stammering. <br />
As someone who invested heavily into property just before the crash there were many months where I thought that bankruptcy was inevitable. This catastrophy made me believe that life was barely worth living. However things have improved immensely since then and now if we can only hang on in there then we will have come out of it relatively unscathed.<br />
When I am feeling depressed I really need the reassurance of sex and intimacy and my urges are actually increased. Oddly enough even on the unusual occasions that I am unwell and running a temperature the thing I always most want to do is to make love. When I am feeling depressed I know that I can get those endorphins and other cocktail of chemicals going which are going to make me feel better. This seems to be a logical reason for the enhanced sexual desire which gives a truly natural medication or sex therapy. I just wish it were available on the National Health Service.<br />
You asked whether our partners were showing us physical affection. Until the last few months my wife seemed to be reasonably happy with holding hands, cuddling and the occasional kiss. Sadly most of this has now stopped so we have reached another stage in our marriage. I will carry on trying to encourage her to be tactile but if I do not succeed I really don't think that I am capable of being deprived of touch as well as sex.<br />
There is a very large Experience Group on depression which I am sure you would find helpful. I was amazed at how many young people there were in the group.<br />
Take Care,<br />