10 Signs Your Marriage Might be Depressed


By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

A depressed marriage?  What is that?  Just like you can become depressed over the loss of someone you love or the economy can become depressed over a real estate financial crisis, so your marriage can suffer from depression.  A depression in your marriage, however, does not mean that your marriage is over, rather it is a low period in a series of highs and lows which occur in every marriage.  Here are some signs that your marriage might be depressed:

1.       Difficulty making even minor decisions let alone major decisions without an argument.

2.       Intimacy such as hand holding, sitting close together, or kissing becomes more routine (if it exists at all) rather than heart felt.

3.       Lack of desire to spend any time together; prefer to spend free time alone.

4.       One or both of you has already spoken of getting a divorce or separating.

5.       The excitement in your marriage is completely gone; you don’t look forward to seeing or hearing from each other.

6.       Conversation is limited to the bare essentials of scheduling, managing the house, and checking in.  No longer are there conversations about the things you are passionate about.

7.       You intentionally avoid your spouse and notice your spouse avoiding you.

8.       Fantasies of other partners, what you would do if your spouse passes away, or the peace that could come from separating begins to consume your thoughts.

9.       You or your spouse finds reasons not to spend the night in your bed, you don’t go to bed at the same time, or you put physical boundaries such as pillows between you.

10.   No sex or interest in sex.

Your Choice.  Once you realize that your marriage might be depressed, you have a choice in your response.  You can reflect and learn from the depression or you can shut down and run from your marriage.  Option one allows the possibility that your marriage can come out of this depression even stronger.  Think again about the real estate depression and how much was learned from the mistakes of over-valuing homes, over-lending from banks, and over-mortgaging a house.  Option two will most likely end up in divorce court.

Reflecting.  It is helpful if both of you are engaged and honest in this process of reflecting on the state of your marriage.  However, that is not always practical as usually one spouse has a clearer perspective than the other spouse.  Whatever the case, spend some time with each identified issue and assign a number from 0 (not a problem at all) to 10 (deal breaker).  Ask yourself how much you have contributed to the problem and take responsibility for your actions before speaking with your spouse.  When you do speak with your spouse, be careful that your spouse’s issues do not outweigh yours.  Remember to speak the truth in love to your spouse.

Learning.  Learning is a two-way street in a marriage.  You need to learn from your spouse and your spouse needs to learn from you.  This is not about getting your way or proving that you are better than your spouse.  If you want the marriage to survive the depression then it is important to keep the long-term goal at the front of your mind.  There is no quicker way to destroy a marriage than to point out all of your spouse’s flaws, demand that they change, and then refuse to concede to any change yourself.  Learning means that you are receiving information, processing it, and doing something about it.  This is a gently process, not a forced one.

Your marriage can survive a depression.  Sometimes it helps to have another person such as a counselor or pastor come alongside you during the process to give an objective point of view.  Self-help books can be useful as well but both of you need to be willingly engaged in the process in order for the book to be effective.  Whatever the path you choose, know that your depression does not have to last for a lifetime, it can be just for a short season. 

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