There are many ways your spouse can affect your mental health.
Like when they forget your birthday, you get pissed. Or when they surprise you with flowers or your favorite meal on a random Wednesday, you get happy. Ok, so maybe it is shock, followed by happiness. Or when your spouse comes home with a new toy and wiped out your entire savings to purchase it.
At that very moment all of the anger chemicals in your brain turn fire engine red and you go into a rage that lasts for a week, which is about how long it takes for the toy to lose its fascination with your spouse.
But it has depreciated so much that it is not worth trying to sell. It goes into the closet or garage, depending on the toy, and you only have to relive that rage once or twice a year when they get it out to play. You know what I’m talking about.
There are many more examples of issues that affect a marriage, from addictions to finances to career problems and the in-laws. However, the mental health of your spouse can be the issue you don’t even realize you have. In reality, the mental health of your spouse can have a huge impact on your marriage.
We Didn’t Start Out This Way
In the beginning people told you that life is different after marriage. They said being a Newlywed won’t last forever or that even newlyweds will have problems. Looking back, you realize they were right. Maybe the vows should have read for better or worse, in sickness and in health, in stupid and in crazy, in depression, anxiety, erectile dysfunction, boredom, laziness, etc. It probably wouldn’t have mattered. When you first get married you don’t care what problems may or may not happen for the rest of your life. You love this person, really love them, flaws and all. Your blinders are on and you feel your marriage will not have any problems you can’t fix. It’s the two of you against the world. Why can’t this feeling last forever? Over time, those flaws become annoyances. Some flaws, mental health flaws, can literally be draining, says the American Psychological Association who has done a butt load of research in this area. If your spouse is depressed, and especially if it is untreated depression, it will directly affect your mental health.
Related: Depression Treatment
This makes sense.
If you are constantly around an unhappy person it is most likely going to bring you down. Good news, you can blame all of your unhappiness on your spouse. Bad news, your mental health problems are affecting your spouse and they can blame all of their unhappiness on you. That’s right. It goes both ways.
Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health issues within marriages.
Your spouse may not even realize they are depressed. It is your job as a good spouse to help them get treatment. I mean, if they had cancer, you would fight the world to get them the best treatment. If they had diabetes, you would help them with their diet and medications. And if you are thinking to yourself right now that no, you probably wouldn’t help them with those either, then you have some bigger issues to deal with, starting today, preferably.
Depression is a physical and mental illness. It is not something your spouse chose to have. Figuring out the root of the depression can change your entire marriage for the better. Go with them to therapy, help them get medicine if they need it, and be supportive of the process. Will it be draining and annoying at times? Hell yes. But be patient, the outcome is what really matters. When the depression starts to lift, the moods in your home will raise, energy levels will increase and overall happiness will return.
Anxiety can wreak havoc on a relationship. Tension, panic attacks, constant worry or nervousness becomes contagious and affects all aspects of a marriage. When a spouse is dealing with anxiety, the other spouse is dealing with how to cope with their anxiety. They are worried about the worry of their spouse. It can be a circle of negative emotions and actions. Neither of you have to remain in this hell-infused circle of illness, however.
Anxiety is totally treatable and curable. There are specialists out there who can help you and your spouse if you put in the time and effort and do the work required of you both.
We Need to Talk
Communication is of utmost importance in helping each other deal with depression and anxiety within a marriage. Men may not really be from Mars and women likely aren’t from Venus or whatever that book was about. But when it comes to thoughts and emotions, the two are completely different. Men and women don’t think or act alike and it is rare for one gender to totally understand the other. Therefore, anxiety and depression may also seem different among men and women. Women may cry a lot when depressed while men may show anger. Women may pace the room, holding their heart like Fred Sanford, thinking they are about to meet their maker when they are anxious. Men with anxiety may hit the bars and drink a lot to suppress their feelings. Talk to each other about why you do the things you do.
When communicating with your spouse about a mental illness, don’t just point out their bad behaviors. Instead, be honest and try explaining how their behaviors make you feel. Sometimes people with mental illnesses think they are only hurting themselves so why bother doing anything about it. When they start to realize their behavior is influencing people they love, they may be more likely to seek treatment, especially with their spouse involved in finding a solution.
Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby
Oh yeah, we are going there.
We are going there because sex in a marriage is extremely important. It keeps you connected emotionally and physically and let’s face it, makes you happy. That is, unless you are not having happy sex which is quite common when dealing with mental health issues with either spouse. If you are the one who has a mental health disorder, sex can become a stressful event. You start to dread it because it doesn’t feel good, for you anyway. Which really gets on your nerves because they are enjoying sex and don’t seem to care that you are not enjoying their seven minutes in heaven.
Or if your spouse is the one fighting depression and doesn’t have an interest in sex, you take it personally. You think they don’t find you attractive or sexy anymore. You come up with excuses as to why they don’t want you anymore. The truth is, there are many reasons why people don’t feel like having sex. They could be tired from work or taking care of the kids, keeping up the house, or medical issues. There are many aspects of your life that can contribute to a mental health disorder. Figuring out, together, why you are unhappy in the other areas of your life, and finding a solution, can actually improve your marriage.
So how do you get back to the wild animals you were in the first few years of your relationship? Well, that may not happen. You were young and fearless and without kids and a mortgage back then. But don’t get discouraged. There are still many ways to get back to a healthy and fun sex life between you and your spouse, even when one or both of you are dealing with a mental health issue. First, don’t keep all of this crap to yourself. Share how you feel so both of you know why you don’t have sexual desire. Seek help with a counselor who deals specifically with sexual problems in a marriage, and also for the depression or other mental illness you may have. Therapists can help you be heard and introduce you to methods that will help you find more intimacy.
Don’t think of sex as intercourse. Think about it as play time in the romper room. Don’t get injured or anything, just realize that sex can mean many different things: foreplay, petting, heavy petting, role playing, game time, photography sessions, or experimentation. Play fifty shades of YOU. Don’t be scared to try something new. You have known this person for years and know them very well. Because of this, sex can be the bomb for both of you. You deserve good sex in a marriage. Make it a priority.
A New Way to Forgive
If you are having a hard time forgiving your spouse or getting forgiveness from your spouse, you are not alone. We tend to hurt the ones we love the most, right? They have betrayed you, hurt you, and taken you for granted. You don’t understand how a person, who is supposed to honor you and love you forever, could be so cruel at times. You don’t want to forgive them sometimes. Sometimes they don’t deserve forgiveness. You may not even understand why you hurt your spouse at times. It was not your intention but you just snapped in the moment and gave them a verbal beat down. You don’t feel like you deserve forgiveness. However, forgiveness is so important to a marriage. If you can’t forgive then resentments or guilt start to build up and then it seems overwhelming. At this point people get frustrated and give up trying.
What you can do is try a different way of forgiving. Try forgiving their mental illness. Most likely, it is not your spouse’s heart and soul that is being mean, it is their mental illness. Mental illnesses can make people so selfish. When a person is in the middle of a panic attack and they are lashing out at you when you are just trying to help, it is the anxiety lashing out, not your spouse. When a person feels anxiety they are in a state of selfish distress. They just want to feel better at any cost. This is true for many mental disorders. Needless to say, their brain chemicals are not operating properly.
Think of mental illness as a possession of sorts. Some demon entered your spouse’s body temporarily and made them act in a way that is quite strange. You are the hero in this story who helps your spouse figure out how to get de-possessed. Your forgiveness can be a good start to this process.
Forgiveness is a choice. When you decide to forgive, you are releasing yourself from the hard feelings and anger. Forgiveness is for you, not them. It frees you, not them. In a marriage, forgiveness represents a cleansing of negative emotions regarding a particular event or situation. Once you forgive, you are committing to letting it go from your mind, as if it never happened, and moving forward to a happier time. If you keep yourself stuck in not forgiving and not forgetting, you are only hurting yourself.
Don’t Be Normal
Here’s the deal. Every single marriage on this planet has problems. It is “normal” to have problems in your marriage. Why do you think the divorce rate is so high? And if there is a couple out there who says they don’t have problems, they are lying. Or, they are robot aliens. Or, they are lying robot aliens. If I had to bet, I’d bet that even robot aliens have some sort of problem in their marriage. What happens when one of them shorts out in the middle of, ahem, something important? I’m betting the other robot gets pissed.
Your marriage doesn’t have to be normal. You and your spouse can be the abnormal couple who works through their problems and learns to recapture that special feeling you had for one another a few years back. You can take the time to seek help, to make your marriage a priority and make repairs. Re-engage in your marriage. By that, I don’t mean get engaged again. However, diamonds are never discouraged. I mean, engage in your relationship, in all aspects of your relationship. Be there for yourself and your spouse. Make your neighbors wonder why you have been married twenty years and can still laugh and have a great time together. Be that relationship everyone else wants to have. Be Abnormal. You deserve it!