Marriage can often be a rollercoaster ride. It’s a lifelong commitment with frequent ups and downs because two people can’t have the same thoughts, perspectives, opinions, and judgments. Due to which misunderstanding, mistrust, and miscommunication occur every so often. However, when these moments of strife or unpleasantness become the defining elements of a couple’s relationship dynamics, they can cause depression symptoms and mental health problems.
However, the “my marriage is making me depressed” realization doesn’t come easy to most people. Even if a person can recognize that they’re dealing with mental health issues, acknowledging that the reason behind it could be the state of their marriage is far more challenging. To find out more about unhappy wives and miserable husbands, we reached out to counseling psychologist Akanksha Varghese (MSc Psychology), who specializes in different forms of relationship counseling, right from dating and premarital to breakup, abuse, separation, and divorce.
She says, “It’s really important to understand that marriage is a situation and in itself, it can’t make you depressed. The factors that play a role in the marriage could be the cause of depression, which could be situational or clinical.”
Can Your Marriage Make You Depressed?
It’s not peculiar when someone says, “I am so depressed and lonely in my marriage” or “My husband makes me depressed”. However, just because it’s not unusual, doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be taken seriously. It’s important that when someone shares such a vulnerability with us or we find ourselves grappling with such thoughts, we pay attention to them, understand where they are coming from, and try to encourage the person (or ourselves) to seek the necessary help.
A research study examined the effects of marital conflict on changes in depressive symptoms and functional impairment among married men and women. It was found that marital conflict undermines physical health.
Akanksha says, “Feeling depressed or lonely in a marriage doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the road for you as a couple. Don’t immediately think of how to get out of marriage at the sight of the slightest inconvenience, except abuse in a relationship. Other problems like communication and intimacy issues can be resolved with the help of couples therapy and counseling.”
However, if you’re depressed, it’s important to focus on your own healing before you get to healing an ailing relationship. And if you don’t know whether you are unhappy or depressed, here are some common symptoms of depression in a marriage to look out for:
- Feeling hopeless and helpless
- Zero motivation to do anything
- Anxiety and a general feeling of sadness
- Sleeping problems like sleeping too much or not sleeping at all
- Eating disorders like loss of appetite or emotional eating
- Frequent mood changes
- Not able to focus or concentrate on anything
- Having suicidal thoughts (this symptom shouldn’t be taken lightly at any cost)
Related Reading: 13 Sure Signs He Is Afraid Of Losing You
5 Reasons Your Marriage Is Making You Depressed
Akanksha says, “Abuse and violence in the relationship are among the top reasons why your marriage could be depressing you. That lurking fear of things turning volatile is enough to trigger anxiety and signs of self-hatred and depression in people. In such relationships, a lot of energy goes into making sure you are safe, and your brain is always in fight or flight mode.”
However, abuse or violence aren’t the only reasons why a marriage may leave a person feeling depressed. Sometimes, even when everything seems fine on the surface, there can be underlying issues that can trigger symptoms of depression.
If you are a spouse thinking, “I don’t know why my husband or why my wife is sad all the time” or someone who’s battling symptoms of depression but doesn’t know why, you are not alone. A lot of marriages go through similar turmoil. The first step toward managing this situation effectively is to understand why your marriage could be making you depressed. Below are some reasons:
1. Your spouse is controlling/dominating you
Akanksha says, “The whole environment of marriage becomes unsafe when one partner begins to control and dominate the other one. Your spouse is not your boss, who can tell you what to do and what not to do. You are not here to follow their orders. There’s a reason why spouses are called partners.”
Being controlled may make one feel insignificant, triggering self-esteem and self-worth issues. According to a study, one of the main causes of depression in a married woman is the feeling of having less or no power in the marriage.
2. Codependency in marriage could result in unhappiness
Joseph, an investment banker in his mid-40s says, “I am miserable and depressed in marriage. I do everything I can to keep my partner happy. I put their needs before mine. I’ve changed myself for them and I’ve taken up all the responsibilities, from financial to emotional. We are together all the time and I’ve even stopped meeting my friends.”
Joseph’s problems indicate that they could be in a codependent marriage. Akanksha says, “Codependency in any relationship is unhealthy. It takes home when you place your partner’s feelings, wishes, and happiness above yours, and make it your life’s mission to cater to them. You end up giving everything but not getting anything in return. This puts all the relationship burden on one partner, which can exhaust them mentally and physically.”
3. Lack of intimacy
There was a point in my life when I used to wonder, “Am I depressed or unhappy in my relationship?” A quest for an answer led me to realize that it was because my marriage lacked one of the types of intimacy which is very important in a marriage – emotional intimacy. This led to feelings of isolation, neither of us felt like we were loved.
When you love someone and decide to spend the rest of your life with them, you expect to connect with them on all levels – sexual, emotional, physical, spiritual, and intellectual. Just because you are sexually compatible, doesn’t mean other aspects of intimacy can be neglected. The absence of even one type of intimacy can create problems in a marriage.
4. Infidelity could be the reason marriage is making you depressed
Have you or your partner recently been unfaithful? Infidelity is one of the major causes of depression. According to research, a partner’s extramarital affair is one of the most humiliating marital events. The discovery of such affairs can cause Major Depressive Episodes (MDE) in the cheated spouse.
If you are saying, “My marriage is making me depressed”, then lack of loyalty or trust or both could be the underlying trigger. Suspicion of being cheated on or uncovering a spouse’s infidelity can be massive setbacks that can erode your marriage, leaving you consumed with depressive thoughts.
Related Reading: Fighting In A Marriage – 10 Tips To Do It Right
5. Holding grudges and resentment
Akanksha says, “In my experience when couples come to therapy, they’re holding on to a lot of resentment and grudge over issues that may have been resolved on the surface. Sometimes we struggle to let go. The more we hold onto something, the more difficult it gets to move on. This builds a cloak of anger and disappointment that can severely diminish the quality of a couple’s connection.”
When married couples bring up problems and issues years ago and have a hard time forgiving each other, it’s clear that the problem isn’t in the marriage but in the way they are handling conflict. That’s why it’s important to know how to resolve conflicts in marriage as all this can lead to hopelessness and depression.
Below are some other factors that could be making you say, “My relationship is depressing me”:
- Financial strain or the entire financial burden falling on one person
- Your partner doesn’t do their share of household chores
- You have been facing constant criticism and sarcastic remarks
- There is contempt, stonewalling, lying, manipulation, and gaslighting
- You feel a lack of emotional security
- You feel judged for your choices and actions
- Your opinions aren’t considered
- Your spouse could be going through hormonal changes or experiencing mental health issues of their own
6 Healing Tips If Your Marriage Is Making You Depressed
Firstly, you need to understand that marital conflicts and problems are common. What matters is how you approach these problems and how important it is to you to resolve them harmoniously. If you really love your partner and want to make it work, below are some healing tips if your marriage is causing depression.
1. Try mindfulness if your marriage is making you depressed
Mindfulness is a therapeutic technique that helps create awareness about how you feel at a particular moment, allowing you to accept your feelings and thoughts without judgment or analysis. It involves the use of deep breathing exercises and guided imagery to help calm your nerves. There are many ways to practice mindfulness in intimate relationships and they can be immensely beneficial in reducing the anxiety and stress you are going through because of your unhappy marriage.
Observe your thoughts and accept them without letting them overpower you. With practice, you will be able to deal with uncomfortable feelings and emotions without being overwhelmed by them. Not only will this help deal with depressive thoughts but also enable you to listen and respond better. This will, in turn, enhance the quality of your conversations with your spouse.
2. Identify your relationships weakness and strengths
It’s essential to be aware of your, your partner’s, and your relationship’s strong and weak points. The weakness could include:
- Anger issues
- Mismatched love languages
- Being impatient
- Addiction issues
- Inability to forgive and forget
The strong suits could be:
- Being calm during arguments
- Being empathetic, loving, and kind
- Supporting each other
- Being respectful
- Helping each other grow
Based on this understanding, you can devise a holistic approach for resolving your differences that truly works for you. This can go a long way in mitigating problems and the feelings of discontent, unhappiness, and loneliness stemming from them.
Related Reading: The 36 Questions That Lead To Love
3. Practice self-care
Going through a Major Depressive Episode can harm your mental health. Depression has a way of making people let go, and even the simplest tasks such as getting out of bed every morning or brushing your hair can seem impossible to accomplish. This is where it becomes essential to focus on self-care and find out how to love yourself. Below are some tips on how to love and care for yourself:
- Spend time with your loved ones
- Start meditating on your own
- Eat healthy and make time to exercise
- Avoid emotional eating
- Spend time in nature
- Start journaling
4. Understand that marriage is not a competition
“I am miserable in my marriage” is a sentiment I can relate to. I felt this way in my own marriage, and one of the reasons was that I kept looking at it as some kind of competition I had to win. Whenever my partner and I had any arguments, I made sure I got the last word. I made sure I had the upper hand in every conflict. It was so inconsiderate of me because one of the top priorities in marriage is always to listen and comprehend your partner’s side of the story as well.
I couldn’t stand setting aside my ego to apologize even when I knew I was wrong. After many fights and situational depression, I learned marriage is not a competition. You can’t compete with each other and you can’t compare your marriage with other marriages.
5. Give each other space
Akanksha shares, “When you don’t give each other enough space, it may lead to constant fights and the burden of unrealistic expectations can begin to take its toll. That’s why all types of boundaries are healthy. They protect your identity, foster self-esteem, and keep your emotional health stable.”
Boundaries are crucial because they don’t let people take advantage of you. They help manage neediness and clinginess. Draw all kinds of boundaries, including financial boundaries, if you want a peaceful marriage.
6. Seek professional help
When feelings of depression begin to take hold, it’s imperative to seek the necessary help sooner rather than later. Of course, you can turn to friends and family to share your feelings and vent. However, they may not be equipped to help you. Depression is a serious mental health issue that needs to be treated the right way, lest it turns clinical and pushes down a rabbit hole that is hard to bounce back from.
That’s why, if you’re dealing with depressive thoughts and symptoms, seeking counseling is a must. Go into therapy and get to the bottom of the “my marriage is making me depressed” feeling that you can’t seem to shake off. If you’re looking for professional help, Bonobology’s panel of experienced counselors is only a click away.
- Codependency and infidelity are two major reasons why your marriage is depressing you
- Holding grudges, resentment, and not being able to move on from conflicts can also create problems in a marriage, leaving you feeling lonely and depressed
- You have to be honest and give each other space if you want a marriage to survive
- Work on your communication and conflict resolution skills and seek professional help to navigate this curveball
Marriage is not easy. But it’s not difficult either. You just have to understand that you’re fighting a problem and not your spouse. Once you learn how to fight a problem together, you will see how unity in marriage is the most beautiful thing ever. A house divided against itself cannot stand for long.
Depression can make you think and want many things. You have to differentiate your depressing thoughts from what you really want. You have to talk through it and seek help. If the depression continues, there are chances one will let go and think divorce is the only answer when it’s not.
Nobody but you can decide what’s good for you. However, if you decide to leave without even trying to fix the problem, then it’s unfair to you, your spouse, and your relationship.