Dear Dr. Romance:
My husband complains that life is a habitrail that he has to get on everyday and he is not being reloaded. I have tried everything I know how to make things better for him. I don't know how to reply anymore, and honestly I am not sure there is anything I can do.
I am so sad because I don't see this marriage working. I am lost without my best friend. I am wishing that things were so different. I am concerned that he has some serious depression issues and that it may be clinical depression. He has issues about being the center of the universe with us, and it is really hard to deal with. I see narcissistic behaviors in him that concern me greatly.
He was not like this big overgrown kid when I married him, or maybe I just did not realize it. None of it is important at this point as i am married to him and would have loved nothing better than for things to work out. But, again, I am concerned about his mental state in general not just when it comes to me. He is hopeless about life, he sees it as just one more day that is ticking by till he dies, he does not see that everyday life is where you find the good stuff. He states that he is never getting recharged or accomplishing things. How do I help that?
Where do I go from here? How do I make things happen that will help him. I don't know how much longer I can cope with this and when I tell him these things he thinks it is an ultimatum, but it is the way I feel in order preserve who I am. What do I do?
It's OK to make an ultimatum, as long as it's the truth. What you telling me is that you love him a lot, but you're going to get out of this marriage if your husband doesn't take care of himself and change his behavior. He needs to know that, so he can make the choice -- he chooses to change, you stay. He chooses to stay the same, you go. I don't know if he has a third choice, to work it out with you, or not. That's pretty straightforward. I'd tell him that and see what happens. Many people, men especially, feel frustrated and caught in the 'rat race' of earning a living.
I know you want him to be in charge, but I wonder if you argue with him about how he's in charge.
Maybe he's a big, overgrown kid, but that's the guy you chose to be with, although you may not have realized it at the time. We're all overgrown kids in some way, and he seems to be a responsible adult in many ways.
I know you love him and want to help him, but you can't fix his depression. He has to admit it, and to get help for it. The best thing you can do is be truthful (both the positive and the negative parts of the truth) and be clear. The most therapeutic thing you can do is tell him what you're observing that causes you to worry about him, tell it without anger, let him know you love him, and tell him you wish he'd do something about his state of mind. These problems have probably been there since his childhood.
It Ends With You:Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction is all about how to fix this.
Since he doesn't want to face his real feelings, perhaps you could read aloud small parts of the book to him as a teaser. "The Nail in the Fence: Healing Wounds" will help both of you understand what it will take to reconcile. But, nothing will work if he's not willing to let it, so your hands are somewhat tied. Even a therapist can't help someone who puts on an "I'm OK" face and won't talk about what's wrong. When he's ready, use "Guidelines for Finding and Using Therapy Wisely" to find the right person to go to.
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