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Husband’s depression taking toll on marriage


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So about 2 months ago, my husband found out his dad has Leukemia. Since then my husband hasn’t been the same.  His dad is doing well with his treatments, and so far it seems that he’s going to get through this. He’s been in the hospital receiving treatments and my husband hasn’t physically seen him for about a month. Anyways, my husband is clearly depressed. He breaks down and cries at times and I comfort him of course. He barely talks to me. He’s drinking more and not eating healthy at all. I think he’s gained a little weight. And he most certainly is not interested in doing much with me at all and sex is completely off the table. Has anyone been through something like this? How long will this last? I just want my husband back. 

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I would be sure to avoid making his father's illness and his emotional reaction to it about you. It's not. Yes, his reaction to it by drinking is not especially healthy and neither is the poor diet. But most people are not automatically equipped to deal with this kind of issue.

I would tell him you are concerned about him and his father and that you want to be supportive in whatever way he needs you to be. Offer to prepare healthy meals and whatever else he needs. Then let him respond.  

It's likely his behaviors will not become permanent but if you see him begin to really decline, express your love and concern. 

This is where the part of your marriage vows "in sickness and in health" come in. If you were having a difficult time I would hope he would be supportive of you and not make it about himself.

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It may be for awhile. Be patient with him. I agree about the healthy meals and kind thoughts. 

You don't have to understand everything about why he feels the way he feels or if he's having bad days. Just go about your life and listen when he wants to talk. I'm sure that will go a long way. 

Also, depending on where you are, there may be counselling resources available to loved ones, caregivers or family members of those who are sick or going through treatment. He can also see his doctor for advice. Encourage him to call or reach out and see if he's receptive to talking with someone too.

 

Edited by Rose Mosse
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1 hour ago, Marshmellow12 said:

He’s drinking more and not eating healthy at all. I think he’s gained a little weight. 

Let him deal in his own way without "comforting" him, asking him to talk about it, etc. The weight and eating is also something not to talk or nag about.

How long has he had a drinking problem?

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4 minutes ago, Wiseman2 said:

Let him deal in his own way without "comforting" him, asking him to talk about it, etc. The weight and eating is also something not to talk or nag about.

How long has he had a drinking problem?

He’s always been a drinker but he drinks more excessively in times of stress.

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12 minutes ago, Rose Mosse said:

It may be for awhile. Be patient with him. I agree about the healthy meals and kind thoughts. 

You don't have to understand everything about why he feels the way he feels or if he's having bad days. Just go about your life and listen when he wants to talk. I'm sure that will go a long way. 

Also, depending on where you are, there may be counselling resources available to loved ones, caregivers or family members of those who are sick or going through treatment. He can also see his doctor for advice. Encourage him to call or reach out and see if he's receptive to talking with someone too.

 

I don’t think he would even consider counseling. 

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It's probably a shock to him & this is how he's dealing with, for now...

Does not mean he'll remain there.. we all deal differently. (have you mentioned he look into some prof help...therapy?).

- Not sure if he'd consider counselling? See how he is in another cpl months then repeat that suggestion... Make him realize your concern and his ways are not so good - at coping..

I fell apart once & hit the bottle for about half a year, then things settled down inside.

As long as he knows you are there for him.. does help ❤️ ... give him a little more time.

Not sure his age, but many hit a 'crisis mode' with 'mid-life crisis' behaviour. - 

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29 minutes ago, Marshmellow12 said:

I don’t think he would even consider counseling. 

Gently express your concerns, and ask him if he would like to seek out some help with a professional online, but before he answers let him know it will be private and safe and that you can set it up for him. Say that it doesn't mean he's crazy, or weak for accepting help, it's a healthier way than the drinking. Maybe just one or two sessions, so it can lighten up the load he is carrying.

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It's called grieving and yes, learning your parent has a devastating illness is very depressing.  What he is experiencing is totally normal.  If he was exhibiting these ways of coping a year from now, then counseling might be in order.   But at 8 weeks I'd be offended if it was suggested I needed professional help.  That suggestion would feel as if that person was minimizing my legitimate feelings and I would have pulled away further from someone who I didn't think remotely understood.

My lost my mom to a terminal illness and I probably cried everyday for the first 6 months.  My boyfriend knew intuitively to just give me the space to feel what I needed to feel and withdraw at times.  I wasn't the best partner for about a year and looking back I am so incredibly grateful that he never once made it about him.  

This is the time you set your needs aside temporarily and be supportive of him and what he's going through. 

Create a safe place for him to talk about it and be empathetic.  That would help more than becoming impatient.  If his Dad is terminal,  you will have a long road ahead.   You will appreciate it when it comes time to deal with your own parents end of life events and all that goes along with it.

Edited by reinventmyself
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Hey if your spouse completely shut you out and was on the bottle you would be worried and at a loss too would you not? any of you? I don't think it's a fair assumption that she is only worried about her own needs. She came here because she's at a loss in what to do. She's consoled him, supported him, but he shuts her out, and drinks. It's very concerning to her. She has probably never seen him like this nor have ever had to deal with this, so I suggest helping her instead of calling her out on things you assume about her. 

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Where I am counselling services are free for caregivers and loved ones of those ill or who have a patient care # for cancer. This is during and after treatment. It depends where you are and his frame of mind. 

There is no one way to handle this so best to be patient see how it unfolds. I don't think there's any shame in utilizing resources that are at your fingertips. If he has drinking problems that's a whole other issue.

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There are support groups for caregivers and for those who's family members are experiencing illness.

The key word here is support.  Support for those who are experiencing normal expressions of grief and fear.

Not professional help, as if he has a problem.

I am reading he is drinking more than normal (to cope) Not to be confused with him having a drinking problem.  

So, *professional help and *AA meetings for someone going through this type of experience is not a good idea.  Not unless you are willing to risk alienating him.

Edited by reinventmyself
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15 minutes ago, smackie9 said:

Hey if your spouse completely shut you out and was on the bottle you would be worried and at a loss too would you not? any of you? I don't think it's a fair assumption that she is only worried about her own needs. She came here because she's at a loss in what to do. She's consoled him, supported him, but he shuts her out, and drinks. It's very concerning to her. She has probably never seen him like this nor have ever had to deal with this, so I suggest helping her instead of calling her out on things you assume about her. 

I based my most recent response on the "I just want my husband back" comment Marshmellow wrote in her OP.

I am attempting to help her see that there is more going on than her dissatisfaction with the amount of companionship and sex she's currently experiencing along with the issues of the husband's drinking and weight gain which seem to be connected to his struggle to cope.

My husband was actually great while I was grieving the loss of my mother. He lost his father about 6 weeks later. I think we both did the best we could. One thing we didn't do was suggest the other seek counseling. I'm not sure how well I would have taken that suggestion mere weeks after my mother passed away.

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8 hours ago, smackie9 said:

Hey if your spouse completely shut you out and was on the bottle you would be worried and at a loss too would you not? any of you? I don't think it's a fair assumption that she is only worried about her own needs. She came here because she's at a loss in what to do. She's consoled him, supported him, but he shuts her out, and drinks. It's very concerning to her. She has probably never seen him like this nor have ever had to deal with this, so I suggest helping her instead of calling her out on things you assume about her. 

I can see this side, but I also come from an environment (family environment) where counseling didn't automatically mean someone had a problem and, "needed help," it was looked at in a very different light, and I'm grateful for that attitude surrounding it.  I think there's a stigma attached to it that can feel offensive if suggested though, the OP should tread carefully and only suggest it if she thinks he'd be receptive to it.

Processing grief can be helped with counseling ❤️ I've utilized it before when my dad had a stroke and it absolutely broke me.  Counseling helped a ton, it just did.  I didn't have a, "problem," really and definitely didn't need the professional help, but wow did it help to have someone help me process the grief... and I went right away due to being raised that, "everyone needs counseling" basically.  It's not just for mentally ill people... almost anyone could use a brilliant counselor or psychologist to help you analyze situations in your life.

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Just thought to add... I think there are statistics out there that show grief and depression periods are dramatically shortened through counseling.  It's almost the same as taking an anti-depressant drug, the effect is that powerful for the mind.

I think it could help him get those emotions out, in a healthier way.  It's just a practical reality that it does actually work (look up grief counseling).

But the suggestion could be taken the wrong way, depending on how that individual perceives it, again I'd advise she tread carefully and only suggest it if he'd take it well.

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10 hours ago, maritalbliss86 said:

I can see this side, but I also come from an environment (family environment) where counseling didn't automatically mean someone had a problem and, "needed help," it was looked at in a very different light, and I'm grateful for that attitude surrounding it.  I think there's a stigma attached to it that can feel offensive if suggested though, the OP should tread carefully and only suggest it if she thinks he'd be receptive to it.

Processing grief can be helped with counseling ❤️ I've utilized it before when my dad had a stroke and it absolutely broke me.  Counseling helped a ton, it just did.  I didn't have a, "problem," really and definitely didn't need the professional help, but wow did it help to have someone help me process the grief... and I went right away due to being raised that, "everyone needs counseling" basically.  It's not just for mentally ill people... almost anyone could use a brilliant counselor or psychologist to help you analyze situations in your life.

I agree with this.  When my awesome MIL passed and my husband was of course devastated -but did not seem depressed - I suggested that he take advantage of the free counseling through his employee assistance program - he was not and had not been in therapy at all, never had a diagnosis -but I knew, instinctively that even though he had me, his friends, family members - the ordeal he went through -and we all went through -with my MIL in hospice for months - I knew, reflexively that at the very least "it couldn't hurt" to talk to someone.  Zero stigma and I'm not a mental health professional at all but I knew.  He ended up working through it, he was willing to seek support from all of us who cared for and loved him and you know several years later it's still hard at times to talk about her etc but mostly we have the good memories that we share with our son.  I'm relieved and grateful for that. But yes, counseling and for sure I can see how it must help the grieving process!!

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I signed up, but never attended a grief support group.  I know I would have benefitted from sharing with others that were going through the same thing.

I learned a couple things going through it.   Grief makes others very uncomfortable  (hence this post)  There seems to be a time limit to it, IF you aren't the one experiencing it. 

You get a couple weeks of phone calls and condolences and at that point people are afraid to bring it up.  Unfortunately, 2 weeks, several weeks when things are quiet, the shock is over, the reality sets in.  When you are hurting the most people think they are being helpful when they change the subject or try to distract you.  So you are left to go through it alone. 

My boyfriend would often try to change the subject when he could see I was brimming on being emotional.  It was so frustrating when he would say, "but I didn't want to make you sad"   My frustrated response "You don't make me sad.  I am Sad!! All the time"   His comments and concern felt like a door being closed on a conversation I wanted to talk about.  Or cry about . . 

Within a very short amount of time you feel you need to hide it from others so they don't feel uncomfortable or have them try to make it go away.  So, yah.  I can relate to someone who finds other means to cope.   It gets very lonely.

Edited by reinventmyself
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