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 misunderstandings, 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 Aakhansha Varghese (MSc Psychology), who specializes in different forms of relationship counseling, right from dating and premarital issues to breakups, 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?
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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 this moment of 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 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. Aakhansha 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 couple’s 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:
- Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
- Zero motivation to do anything
- Anxiety and a general feeling of sadness OR feeling numb to everything
- 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
7 Signs Your Marriage Is Making You Depressed
Any relationship requires a lot of work, effort, and understanding. You need to show up and be there for each other. When one or both partners take their marital problems or their partner itself for granted, this is where the quality of a sacred union deteriorates. If you don’t know why you are so gloomy in your day-to-day life, it could be because of relationship problems. Here are some signs that you feel depressed because of your marriage:
1. You feel deprived of their love
Your spouse could be robbing you of some core needs. It could be anything like:
- Touch deprivation
- Intimacy deprivation
- Emotional deprivation
- Financial deprivation
- You are being starved for affection
All these can eventually make you feel like you are being deprived of their love. You feel like your loving relationship has turned sour and there is no longer any kind of empathy, sympathy, or compassion in your relationship.
Aakhansha shares, “One of the heartbreaking signs your marriage is making you depressed is when you feel deprived of their love because your partner is holding back and suppressing their emotions. They aren’t sharing their feelings with you. You can’t feel someone’s love unless they are fully open and vulnerable with you. That’s why you are going through pain and depression in your relationship.”
2. You are merely surviving
Is my marriage causing my depression? Yes, if you are just surviving and not thriving in your marriage. Your relationship problems have gone beyond your understanding and now you can’t get through day-to-day life. The little things to make your marriage stronger, the things you and your partner did to put a smile on each other’s faces have practically dwindled and neither of you cares about bringing your relationship out of stagnancy. Here are some more signs you are merely surviving in your marriage:
- You can’t let go of previous fights and can’t even have a day of fun and peace together
- You have stopped talking about future goals and dreams
- You have stopped sharing your work problems, mental health problems, and family problems with each other
3. You don’t feel safe and secure anymore
Jessica, a 46-year-old entrepreneur from Boston, shares, “Being with my husband makes me depressed. I don’t feel emotionally secure anymore. I feel like my partner would leave me or cheat on me anytime. I have a gnawing feeling that I am stuck in a loveless marriage.”
This depression related to your marriage could stem from a variety of issues. It could be because of:
- Trust issues
- Attachment styles
- Trauma from your past
- Communication style mismatch
- Unresolved issues
- Low self-worth
Your marriage can be saved when you and your spouse are willing to take a practical approach toward solving these problems at hand. Only when you communicate about these issues, you will be able to feel at home in each other’s embrace. Your marriage will come alive when the two of you make each other feel safe and secure emotionally.
4. You feel helpless
Aakhansha shares, “One of the alarming signs you are feeling depressed in your marriage is when you feel powerless and helpless. You feel this ocean of hopelessness engulfing you and you don’t know what to do about it. You are having a hard time getting out of bed and following your daily routine. You are sleeping a lot and your hygiene takes a toll.”
Couples usually forget that marriage is hard work. You need unconditional love and support to keep it going. You have to make sure you don’t involve your family members in your fights because you don’t want others thinking badly of you or your spouse. If you need help, then seek support from marriage counseling. Counselors will navigate your problems in a professional way and will try to make you feel better.
5. Your spouse doesn’t prioritize you anymore
Aakhansha says, “One of the main things that weakens a marriage is when your spouse doesn’t prioritize you. It shows that they aren’t prioritizing marriage. It’s nothing unnatural when one partner fails to make the other partner feel loved because of ongoing problems like financial issues, taking care of their parents, or grieving the death of a loved one. Other than such phases, you can’t let your marriage rot and not take any steps to make them feel special, important, and loved.”
Feeling neglected can weaken marriage and it can even lead to developing mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. It shows that you are no longer on their mind and that there are other things more important than you. Life gets in the way of happy and successful marriages many times. It’s only a red flag when neither of you does something about it.
6. Everything about your partner irritates you
Spend 24/7 with someone and even your favorite person on earth will begin to bug you. Everything your partner tells and does will irritate you. Here are some things you can practice to avoid being annoyed all the time:
- Meditate and journal your negative thoughts
- Lower your expectations from your partner
- Spend alone time
- Spend quality time with your spouse
- Take responsibility for your wrongdoings as well
- Stop trying to “fix” your partner
- Always remember that you are friends and are on the same team
7. This marriage has become a burden on you
Alana, a 28-year-old nurse from Seattle, writes to Bonobology, “Being with my husband makes me depressed. We got married just a year ago. It was all good until the honeymoon phase started wearing out. We have relationship problems every day and I feel criticized. I do all the work around the house. I am doing my best to keep him happy but I guess his expectations are sky-high.”
If your marriage feels like a prison or a chore, then it may make you feel like the entire emotional labor has fallen on your shoulders. If you have similar marriage problems like Alana’s, here are some things you can do if you do all the work and this marriage has become a burden on you:
- Whatever you are doing for your partner, make it visible. Let them know (without being rude) that you cooked dinner after coming back from work. Tell them you took the trash out. Tell them you went grocery shopping all alone. Show and tell everything you do around the house
- Call them out when there is name-calling, criticizing, substance misuse, and other relationship issues where you are at the receiving end of hurt and pain
- Understand that no marriage is perfect and you have to make it perfect by accepting each other’s insecurities, flaws, perspectives, and imperfections
5 Reasons Your Marriage Is Making You Depressed
Aakhansha 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 that 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 thinking “I don’t know why my husband or why my wife is sad all the time” or if you’re the one battling symptoms of depression but don’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
Aakhansha 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 that spouses are called partners.”
Being controlled may make one feel insignificant, triggering self-esteem and self-worth issues. They will make you feel smaller by trying to exert control over you. The moment you feel like you are being controlled, speak up and let it come to light that you don’t like being told what to do. The sooner you address this problem at birth, the better it will be for your mental health. 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. Aakhansha 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 – 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” or “Being with my husband makes 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
Aakhansha says, “In my experience when couples come to therapy, they’re holding on to a lot of resentment and grudges 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 from 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 bring you to the point of saying, “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 that you 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 relationship’s weaknesses and strengths
It’s essential to be aware of your, your partner’s, and your relationship’s strong and weak points. The weaknesses 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.
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
- Eat comfort food, but don’t make emotional eating a regular coping mechanism
- Spend time in nature
- Start journaling
- Spend time with animals
- Don’t judge yourself for your thoughts
4. Understand that marriage is not a competition
“I am miserable in my marriage” and “My marriage is making me depressed” are sentiments 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 go against with each other and you can’t compare your marriage with others.
5. Give each other space
Aakhansha 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 you 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 must. Seek a therapist and get to the bottom of the “my marriage is making me depressed” feeling that you can’t shake off. If you’re looking for professional help and want to seek support, 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 shouldn’t be consistently 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.
This article has been updated in February 2023.
Depression can make you think and want many things. You have to differentiate your depressing thoughts from your identity and what you really want. You have to talk through it and seek help. If the depression continues, there are chances you will think divorce is the only answer even 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.
Yes. A bad and unhappy marriage can cause depression because it’s one of the most intimate relationships of your life and affects you in every way, every day. When your safety and happiness are threatened because of marital problems, it can cause depression.
Communicate with your partner. Tell them you are unhappy and want to turn the situation around. Once you feel like your problems are being heard, spend time with them. Tap into each other’s love languages and make each other feel appreciated and loved. Each day is an opportunity to start afresh.