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My wife and I have been together for 17 years and have 2 teenage children

My wife suffers from depression and also from sporadic back problems (arthritis) that varies from totally debilitating to just annoying and draining.

The depression is something that I have tried to support her with as much as my own limited strength will allow. 3 years ago, on return from our annual holiday she had a really bad episode to the point where she could hardly operate on a day to day basis. I coped badly with it; I didn't understand that it was depression and made most of the dumb mistakes that I now know only make the situation worse, eg, not listening enough, trying to put the positive side of the situation all the time, getting angry, thinking about my own unsatisfied needs.

At that point I realised, or perhaps just admitted to myself for the first time that there was something wrong, either with one of us both of us or more probably with our relationship.

My first step was to spend a year in IC myself which was both revealing and at times, difficult. This therapy resulted in me asking my wife to attend MC together, which we did for about a year. We talked through many of our issues and I learnt through this that my wife had been sexually abused by her grandfather when she was a child. The therapy helped a great deal, my wife became more open, less scared, less angry and seemed happier. However, since we stopped the therapy things have slowly but surely drifted back to how they were before.

She also did some IC during this time but stopped it because it was too painful.

2 months ago we returned from an extended holiday and since then, things have been going steadily downhill. She has had another 10 day period where it was a case of "lights on, nobody home", she just went through the motions but seemed like an emotional zombie.

The times we actually get together are fantastic, they are warm, loving and we are truly connected. However, these times are becoming fewer and fewer and everything is done on my wife's terms. During the last time she was depressed she wouldn't even talk to me about anything other than daily operational stuff and trivia.

We only have sex when she wants to; we haven't had sex when going to bed at night this year, she is only ever comfortable doing it in an afternoon and usually after having a drink.

About me: I am a caring, sensitive (sometimes over-sensitive) intelligent guy in my mid-forties. I have had the most amazing life, which continues on a daily basis. I love my 2 sons more than I would have imagined possible and am so proud of them that it brings tears to my eyes. I am very successful professionally and provide for the family financially. I work hard but always have breakfast with the family and am home for dinner 4 nights a week. I try to limit travel for work and when it is unavoidable try to plan it around the family. I used to have hobbies but my wife was not interested in either so I have given them up and now only enjoy walking, which my wife likes.

I can be harsh; I speak my mind and while I am always civil I know how to hurt with words. This is something that I have developed as a defense mechanism over the years but there are times when I have hurt my wife with words, of which I am not proud.

I am in very good shape physically and would like to think that I am a good lover; sometimes gentle and considerate, sometimes dominant and demanding, always trying to balance my wife's needs with my own.

I take rejection badly, following rejection by my father years ago. Therapy and time has helped me with this and although I will always suffer with this, it is something that doesn't normally affect my daily life.

My wife worries about most things; I worry about very few things. I am a passionate individual that wants to make the most of the short time I have on this planet. My wife is scared and angry most of the time.

I read somewhere on this forum that "love" is a verb, not a noun. Something I wholeheartedly agree with. While telling someone you love them is great, it is woefully inadequate, it is about showing them that you mean it.

However, it is very difficult to love someone who won't allow themselves to be loved.

During the last few weeks, I think I have begun to realise that things are not going to change and that I must, first and foremost, play the role of carer. I must put her needs first and put mine aside and fulfil my marriage vows that include sticking together "in sickness & in health, for richer for poorer etc etc". I have to deal with her anger, her very limited appetite for intimacy, her periods of depression, nurse her through the times when she suffers back pain and remain open enough to enjoy the times when she is on good form and wants to interact with me. Truth is, I'm not sure I have the strength to do this and I am afraid and lonely. Her fear and anger are draining and quite often I have to hide my excitement, joy and happiness because it drags her down. I have some plans for things that I want to do in the future both on my own and with her but I can't share them because they are too much for her to handle.

Furthermore, I am not sure that playing the "saviour" is actually doing her any favours in the long run, I am afraid that I am just building an unhealthy dependency between us which will only fuel her neuroses.

I would really value any feedback.
 

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I am not sure that playing the "saviour" is actually doing her any favours in the long run.
I agree, Autumnal. It is important to let her suffer the logical consequences of her own self-centered behavior. Otherwise, you are harming her by destroying any incentive she would have to confront her issues and learn how to manage them. That is, you are enabling her to remain dysfunctional.

Perhaps, as you say, your W only suffers from depression. Yet, your complaints about the frequent "fear and anger" -- together with her difficulty handling intimacy very often -- suggest that the issues may go well beyond depression. Particularly worrisome is the sexual abuse during her childhood from her grandfather. Although most abused children do not develop strong traits of BPD, such an experience greatly raises their risk of doing so, especially if the abuse was sexual.

I therefore suggest you read Shari Schreiber's description of quiet BPDers to see if most traits sound very familiar. Her article is located at BORDERLINE WAIFS AND UNSUNG HEROES; Rescuing The Woman Who Doesn't Want To Be Saved.. If those symptoms ring a bell, I would suggest you discuss it with your IC (not hers). Take care, Autumnal.
 

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What treatment is she getting for her depression? Medication?

Once you answer, I will add more because I was severly depressed for 2 years & how my husband coped.
 

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Emerald

She has tried hypnotherapy in the past but at the moment is not taking any medication. She is very anti medication.

I would love to hear how you and your husband coped. The best book I have read is "living with a black dog" which I refer to regularly for support.
 

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Emerald

She has tried hypnotherapy in the past but at the moment is not taking any medication. She is very anti medication.

I would love to hear how you and your husband coped. The best book I have read is "living with a black dog" which I refer to regularly for support.
She needs medication.

I didn't want to take meds either as my life was imploding around me. However, I wanted to feel better & stop making my husband & 2 children suffer along with me so I took my medication & slowly climbed out of the dark hole.

Depression is a very self-centered illness as you well know.

Because she is refusing the very medication that could make her well again, you should not feel guilty (sad ok) about taking care of YOUR needs so that you can be the best possible parent to your children.

In other words, no more enabling a sick person who refuses to help themselves.

You can show empathy, kindness & love w/o enabling.
 

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I agree, Autumnal. It is important to let her suffer the logical consequences of her own self-centered behavior. Otherwise, you are harming her by destroying any incentive she would have to confront her issues and learn how to manage them. That is, you are enabling her to remain dysfunctional.

Perhaps, as you say, your W only suffers from depression. Yet, your complaints about the frequent "fear and anger" -- together with her difficulty handling intimacy very often -- suggest that the issues may go well beyond depression. Particularly worrisome is the sexual abuse during her childhood from her grandfather. Although most abused children do not develop strong traits of BPD, such an experience greatly raises their risk of doing so, especially if the abuse was sexual.

I therefore suggest you read Shari Schreiber's description of quiet BPDers to see if most traits sound very familiar. Her article is located at BORDERLINE WAIFS AND UNSUNG HEROES; Rescuing The Woman Who Doesn't Want To Be Saved.. If those symptoms ring a bell, I would suggest you discuss it with your IC (not hers). Take care, Autumnal.
Thanks Uptown, great link. It was a scary read, seems like someone has had a camera in our marriage! I fall into the people pleaser category and she tends towards the borderline waif. My therapy to date has changed my people pleaser profile which maybe is partly what is contributing to the current tension.
 

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She needs medication.

I didn't want to take meds either as my life was imploding around me. However, I wanted to feel better & stop making my husband & 2 children suffer along with me so I took my medication & slowly climbed out of the dark hole.

Depression is a very self-centered illness as you well know.

Because she is refusing the very medication that could make her well again, you should not feel guilty (sad ok) about taking care of YOUR needs so that you can be the best possible parent to your children.

In other words, no more enabling a sick person who refuses to help themselves.

You can show empathy, kindness & love w/o enabling.
Thanks Emerald.

Is it usual to take medication only when depressive episodes happen or all the time?
 

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I'm not depressed, but I have 2 major health issues. One is permanent and the other maybe as well. I feel like I'm falling apart and I'm not even 40 yet.:/ I am physically disabled and housebound. There are my bad days where I can't get out of bed, the pain is unbearable, mostly from pushing myself too hard physically. I do often feel like I've failed my family.

I often wonder how much I'm bringing my husband down due to my injury. He says I'm not and he is always here supporting me every step of the way. There is nothing that can compare to his support. I do all I can to meet his needs and fulfill him in every way possible . I do have my bad days, as anyone would that lives in constant severe pain. I try to keep those bad days to myself and hidden. I take up on hobbies that are inside my home to keep me going daily. I do my best to pull my weight around here, but my husband does do more then I. I wasn't always like this, it's been over 4 years now since my major neck injury. Now I have kidney issues. Both very painful.

I tell my husband frequently how much I appreciate everything he does. Maybe I over do this? I worry I'm not doing enough around here, but my husband says not to worry. There are not enough words or actions I can do to thank my husband for all he does for our family. My husband is a very hard working man. He is so kind and patient. One thing is, there is no anger or hostility in this house. It's quite peaceful actually. The kids are best of friends and are very well behaved.

My husband has stuck with me through my health issues. I can't imagine how many people would. Even my doctor I see for the pain says I'm very lucky. I can bet you, if I get depressed, my husband would drag my butt into the doctor himself. He's a great advocate for my health. I do my best to stay fit and healthy also, I need to stay mobile as possible. I'm very lucky not to be in a full time wheelchair.

My husband and I are very close. We have a great emotional and physical connection, he will find me and we spend at least an hour a day together without interruption. Even it's to watch a tv show, talk, wind down, other things, ect... We still hold hands and kiss daily. He is my best friend as well as my spouse. I never thought in my life I'd be so dependent on someone else. I do not ever take him or anything for granted. I'm one very lucky wife! I really try not to worry. By my husband actions and words, he says he's not going anywhere.
 

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Wow...I just registered and this is the first post that I went to and found a story that is nearly exactly mine. This morning, after another night of her getting crazy and violent with me and all that wonderful stuff...I'm ready to roll.

After nearly 21 years of living with her unhealth, in a situation where she refuses to be accountable for her behavior and responsible for its resolutions, I just feel done today. In fact, I would gladly be gone were it not for my faith and the fact that I've got two tweenage boys who, thankfully, seem oblivious to the problems that their mom and dad are having and how close everything is to falling apart.

The patterns is this: She is hugely codependent and so engages and owns nearly everything around her. She can't cope with all of that and has no outlet...except me. I usually can tell when something is up or on its way; I'm 'used' to it, but can't do it anymore. She then overreacts to whatever I might do that's not exactly right, and kablooie...she starts with the screaming and the blaming and the violence.

Thankfully, she's not a brute and I'm not a small guy, but the violence is something that I will just not take anymore, and I'm rapidly reaching my limit on the blaming and lack of personal accountability. Even though she was wildly out of line yesterday, pattern will dictate that I walk on eggshells today, feel guilty about my offense and what it triggered, and we will largely just go about our days separate from one another.

FWIW, I've hardly the perfect history as a husband. Huge issues of my own from my own childhood, a recovering (functional) alcoholic, with anger-management issues of my own. However, these have been addressed and, I feel, pretty successfully resolved for the period of around fourteen years now.

As you might imagine, and certainly to a degree rightfully so, she uses this early period in our relationship as the "reason" that she cannot forgive me and move on, even as I've done what I can to do exactly that in light of her affairs, alcoholism, and DV isues. In the meantime, I continue to do nearly everything. I make six-figures, pay everything, clean, cook, do laundry...she does very little, and our sex-life is aptly summed by the original poster's situation.

Dunno...scared today. Don't want my boys to grow up in an environment with such an unhealthy show going on - sooner than later they'll understand what's up - but also don't want to place them in the position of a split family (I'll probably leave the area if I leave her). But am ready to walk and be done. Maybe that's what has to happen for her to see the seriousness of the situation.

Will be watching this thread with interest. thanks for posting.

I'm desperate and don't know what to do.
 

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Arikara

Your situation sounds even more difficult than mine, my heartfelt sympathies are with you.

I would strongly recommend you read the links posted by Uptown about borderline waifs, it certainly rang true for me in 2 ways.

Firstly, my wife seems to demonstrate many of the traits described, not all but many.

Secondly, it has reminded me (I think I knew this at some point but seemed to forget) that I am not a passive observer in all this. My wife and I chose each other for a reason and I am guessing that the same is true for you. However, those interactions that perhaps worked okay 20 years ago really don't work for either of you any more.

Your situation of being able to tell when something is on its way is the same for me. Within a few seconds of waking in the morning/walking in the door in the evening or similar I can feel the anger boiling up in her and I have to steel myself for what I know is coming. I have tried:

  1. Spending more time out of the house eg working late
  2. Immersing myself in online games so that i don't have to interact with her
  3. Saying nothing and trying to tread on eggshells until she "comes back"
  4. Treating her "like an adult" and confronting her; this results in tears, rage, making up stories, total lack of logic
  5. Individual and Couple Therapy
In addition to the above I have come very very close to having an affair but fortunately have avoided it so far.

Of all the above the only one that had any positive effect was therapy together. When with a third party my wife was very different and was willing to engage with the therapist (perhaps because she was a woman). I think she felt safe and not judged (which I am sometimes guilty of). It sounds like you don't have money issues so I would strongly recommend that you do this. I actually did a year of individual counselling first, not sure if that was avoiding what I knew the issue was or just "checking" that I was "okay". How you get her to agree I don't know, I thought it would be difficult but actually my wife just said yes. I told her I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her but that I thought we had some things we needed help with in order do that happily.

I'm no medical professional but it sounds like your wife really is in need of medication.

The other thing I realised in therapy is that some of my own issues will never be resolved. I think of them a little like grief after having lost a loved one; it diminishes, it becomes more controllable but it will always be there, especially in times of stress. Even as a highly successful, highly qualified and intelligent guy I still revert to type when the **** hits the fan, even if I am aware enough to control it.

The other issue we both face is the reality that if you leave, the kids will stay with her and without you there perhaps they may suffer.

Having read many posts on this forum, I have taken the view that I will try do what I can to work it out with my wife, but she needs help that I simply cannot give her. I can love and support her but I cannot fix her, only she can do that.

I really hope you can get through it together; if you can, get to a good couple's therapist, best thing we ever did.

Good luck.
 

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Autumnal, I admire that you've recognized a need to stay committed to your wife and to deal with the situation, but putting your own needs aside isn't the way to do it. As Emerald said, you'd be better off letting her face the consequences of her actions or inactions. Obviously, sometimes that's easier to say than it is to do, especially if her depression causes her to lapse on responsibilities that have long term effects for everyone, such as not making house payments.

You said counseling seemed to help before. What's preventing her from accepting this possibility now?
 

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Autumnal, I am pleased to hear you found the BPD information helpful. Given that you found some of the traits applicable, I offer several more suggestions.

As an initial matter, if you suspect your W has strong BPD traits, I recommend that you NOT tell her. If she is a BPDer, she almost certainly will project the accusation right back onto you, believing YOU to be the BPDer. Instead, simply encourage her to see a good psychologist and let the psych decide what to tell her.

Second, I suggest you get Stop Walking on Eggshells, the best-selling BPD book targeted to the abused spouses. The second-best selling book is I Hate You, Don't Leave Me.

Third, I suggest you start participating (or at least lurking) at BPDfamily.com -- the largest and most active BPD forum I've found that is devoted fully to the spouses and family members of BPDers. This issue is such an enormous problem that that website is growing by 20 new members every day. The result is that it offers eight separate message boards on various BPD issues. The ones that likely will be most helpful to you are the "Staying" board and the "Raising a Child when One Parent Has BPD" board.

Fourth, while you are at BPDfamily.com, I suggest you read the excellent articles in their resources section. A good place to begin is article 1 at http://www.bpdfamily.com/bpdresources/nk_a101.htm.

Fifth, I suggest you see a clinical psychologist -- for a visit or two by yourself -- to obtain a candid professional opinion on what it is you and your sons are dealing with. As I've explained in many other threads, your best chance of getting a candid opinion regarding a possible BPD diagnosis is to NOT have the BPDer along. Therapists are loath to tell high functioning BPDers the name of the disorder -- for her own protection.

This is true even when you are paying the bill and attending some of the sessions. Hence, to obtain a candid assessment, it is important to see a psychologist who is ethically bound to protect only your interests, not hers. Relying on your W's therapist for advice during the marriage would be as foolish as relying on her attorney for advice during a divorce. For a more detailed explanation as to why this information is routinely withheld from clients and their spouses, see my post at http://talkaboutmarriage.com/general-relationship-discussion/48178-its-official-im-getting-divorced.html#post811909.

Sixth, I suggest you read an explanation of how we excessive caregivers get to be this way during our childhood. The best explanation I've found is Shari Schreiber's article at DO YOU LOVE TO BE NEEDED, OR NEED TO BE LOVED?. Schreiber argues that, due to childhood dynamics with our parents, our desire to be needed (for what we can do) FAR exceeds our desire to be loved (for the men we already are). The last half of her article is the most insightful part so please be patient when reading it.

Finally, please don't forget those of us on this TAM forum. We want to keep trying to answer your questions and providing emotional support as long as you find our shared experiences helpful. Moreover, by sharing your own experiences, you likely are helping numerous other members and lurkers.
 

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I have severe depression and have since I can remember. I do not take any medication for it, but I try to deal with it on my own the best I can.

One of my cousins is bi polar and she used to take meds for it, until it messed her up, She now takes vitamin B12 in mass doses, every day. i can't remember the exact dosage needed but you should be able to look it up on Google. This may help your wife if she is anti medication. I have been meaning to look it up my self to see the does for my self. I don't want to take anti depressants due to the side effects.


"Is it usual to take medication only when depressive episodes happen or all the time?"

Usually, the pill is once a day. Most anti depressants will take atleast a week to build up in your system. I have never heard of someone only taking them when they have an episode.
 
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