What happens when all the things you've been taught as a marriage and family therapist don't work on your own marriage?
What happens when your cries for help and health and change are left seemingly unheard by a God whom you believe is good?
What happens when there's nothing left of a marriage except the fact that you made a covenant and you've got two precious kiddos who deserve to have their parents fight with everything they've got to stay together?
What happens when you believe that "perseverance produces character, character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint...." but all you feel is disappointment and hopelessness?
Six years (and really, it was much more than that, probably 11 or 12 years if we're being realistic) of ups and downs, hoping and praying, shaking my fist at God and wishing I could just run away, wreaked havoc on my heart. I wasn't so sure we were going to make it.
So, can a marriage survive ongoing depression? My answer to that question is yes, but it sure as hell isn't easy. And some marriages don't survive it. There are a lot of variables, and gray areas, and loop holes. But at the end of the day, what it came down to was honesty, among other things. Honesty with myself and with my husband, and a reality check of my own contributions to the demise of our relationship.
For years, because of his depression, I had been afraid to tell him how bad things really were. Since I was met with only anger and judgment when I did tell him the the truth about our situation, I stopped telling him. In fact, I stopped speaking to him about anything of consequence. I wrote him off. "He couldn't handle it," I told myself, and kept my desperation hidden.
His unwillingness (in the early days) to get help had to be met with a firmness on my part that I was not used to wielding. I could use my words like a sword - a beautiful, elegant, deadly sword to cut and pierce and mangle. But words didn't bring about change. Only action did. And action was terrifying and risky to me.
I had to learn to take a stand for what I knew was the right thing to do, and allow him to stand with me by his own choice, or let the chips fall where they may. Luckily, he chose to take a stand with me. Not all spouses will.
In future weeks and months, I will continue to unfold some of the details of our recovery from the verge of losing it all. If you'd like to keep up with the happenings around here, please subscribe to my email list. I'll send you free resources from time to time, and I'm also toying with the idea of releasing a chapter from a book I'm working on right now, all about men with depression and the women who love them. If that intrigues you, I'd love to have you stick around.
My hope is that somewhere in the lines of our story, you'll begin to find yours again, and the courage to continue, in whatever manner that takes.