What I needed from my wife

Got a call from a teary partner of a friend of mine on the weekend. Apparently he’d spat the dummy and she’d taken off with the two kids. He is being treated for Attention Deficit Disorder and has made loads of progress over the years but it got me thinking about what I needed from my wife when I was at my worst, and I thought I’d write about it, in case partners of pastors are trawling about and stumble across The Scrapheap Pastors blog.

I needed a wife who was secure. Unfortunately my wife was not emotionally independent enough from me to not take my behavior personally. Maybe no spouse could be, but she wasn’t able to impartial enough to see my behavior independent from her sense of self. What I’m trying to say is that she took my outbursts, impatience, intolerance and irritability to mean that I no longer loved, cared for or respected her. She then reacted to me out of a sense of being rejected. She interpreted my emotional state through her lenses of insecurity and came up with the wrong conclusions.

I needed a wife who was healthy. Two weak and unhealthy individuals makes for a recipe for disaster. One healthy individual and one sick one can stand a chance. I needed a healthy wife who was able to own her own emotional state and look to others to meet her needs where I couldn’t. My wife didn’t see me as being unwell. She saw me as being a bad husband, so the tack she took was to try and point out how I was failing as a husband at meeting her needs which of course compounded my problems. She has since learned that if her emotional needs aren’t being met by me, she’s responsible to get them met. That takes a whole lot of pressure off, and makes it more likely that I will actually recover and meet her needs.

I needed a wife who could spot the signs. I remember the moment some two years after experiencing depression and receiving treatment, when a little book fell into my wife’s hands about spouses of partners with depression. She read the book and identified with all the stories of spouses and how they felt and what they experienced. We sat in a little cafe and she told me she finally accepted that I had depression. I nearly fell off my chair. I actually couldn’t believe that she’d managed to maintain a steadfast denial for so long despite the bleeding obvious. To have a spouse who can recognise the signs as early as possible would have been invaluable.

I needed a wife who could intervene. Obviously being a man, we never listen to our spouses when they point out our weaknesses of flaws (it’s a man thing). So having a wife suggesting that I have anxiety or depression would have gone down like a lead balloon. But I do listen to a close circle of friends that I have around me that I’m very transparent with. If my wife had gone to them and told them exactly what was happening at home and how she felt about it, intervention would have been swift. Sadly, she didn’t talk to anyone about what was happening, not even her close friends. She only spoke to my interstate sister and a couple of cousins of mine overseas. I think she’s a private person and she felt ashamed at the way she was being treated and didn’t want anyone to know.

If you’re a spouse of a partner with depression, hopefully these ideas can give you some way forward. You’re not responsible for your spouse, but you have a responsibility to your spouse and you definitely are responsible for your own emotional health and need to take positive steps to trying to stay as healthy as possible yourself, for the sake of your marriage and family.


4 Responses

  1. Sometimes it’s really that simple, isn’t it? I feel a little stupid for not thinking of this myself/earlier, though.

  2. I cannot believe this will work!

  3. Great idea, but will this work over the long run?

  4. I must voice my love for your generosity giving support to persons who really want guidance on this important theme. Your personal dedication to getting the solution all around came to be incredibly advantageous and have constantly empowered workers just like me to get to their aims. This useful guide entails a great deal a person like me and far more to my colleagues. Thanks a lot; from each one of us.

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