Wednesday, March 13, 2013

5 Ways Depression has been Beneficial to my Marriage

Depression thrives in solitude.

For many years, I tried to keep my problems a secret.  Eventually, my close friends would start to question my behaviors.  Since I didn’t want to face my problems, I had to get out of dodge.

Once I got past my comfort zone, I would shut down and drift away from the people I loved.  Sometimes, I would just flat-out-up-and-move out of state.  I moved around from place to place thinking that I needed a new start every year or so.  Michigan, Europe, Kansas, Florida, and New Hampshire were some of the places I tried to call home.

I thought that if people really knew who I was, no one would love me anymore.

Once I finally stared opening up, however, I couldn’t believe the amount of support I received.

It’s amazing to me how much better my relationships (in particular, my marriage) have become since starting depression treatment.

Even if you do not suffer from a mental disorder, everyone experiences low points in their life.  It is helpful to know what you can do (and what your spouse can do to help) to make it through.  There are many more reasons than what I have listed below.  Yet, I have to leave something to write about next time, right?

1.  For my husband and I (on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best) our communication level is at a 10+.  (This data is coming from a woman’s perspective!)  We are no longer afraid to communicate about anything.  When you bear your soul to one another about your deepest darkest fears, any other topic can be easily discussed over cake and ice cream.  It is very important for my recovery to keep talking about the things that are on my mind.  If Craig also shares the state of his soul with me, I am more likely to open up.  Because we have learned this technique from dealing with mental illness, our communication level on any subject is awesome.

2.  We are more appreciative of one another.  We are thankful for the big things and the little things, as well.  I am eternally grateful to Craig, and I do not hold back from telling him so every day.  Because every day I need his support to get better, I thank him every day for taking care of me.  Often times, you can get caught up in day to day life and forget to say “thank you” to the one’s you love.  Recovering from depression has taught us to be thankful for each other, each and every moment of every day.  It is very rewarding to be in a relationship where there is mutual gratitude.  You feel loved and appreciated for just being you.

3.  As a couple, we pray together more often.  “A family who prays together, stays together.”  Craig and I know we need God’s help, especially when we are struggling with things that don't have a quick fix (depression).  By accepting that God has the control, we can offering our lives to Him in humility.  Praying together brings us both closer to God, and as a result, closer to each other.

4.  Our virtue of patience has increased tremendously.  We are aware of our mortality.  We are aware of our faults and failures.  We are aware of our imperfections.  And, yet, we still love each other despite all of those things.  In a marriage, when you no longer have the expectation to be perfect, you can be free to be yourself.  You will be happier in a relationship where you can be yourself.  You will no longer be afraid to make mistakes because you know you will be loved no matter what.

5.  We go on dates, at least, once a month.  Instead of “dates”, we should call these outings “marriage maintenance”.  We keep this ritual to officially check up on each other regularly, even if there are no apparent problems.  We check-in unofficially throughout the week as well.  However, we have regular sessions once a month specifically to get on the same page.  We write down our short-term and long-term dreams and goals.  We share those things we each other without reservations or hesitations.  We talk about what has worked in the past and what we want to do better with in the future.  And we also sit and enjoy each other’s company over coffee and pie.  I love it.  I recommend this practice to any husband and wife.  Dealing with depression has taught us that our minds (thoughts, dreams, goals, ideas, and fears) are constantly changing.  We can’t read each other’s minds.   So, if we want to have a “thriving” relationship, we need to share with each other what is going on in our brains. Want to read more about how to improve your relationship?  Read this!

Do you struggle with depression?  How has dealing with a mental illness enhanced your relationships?

Write your ideas below.  I would love to hear about them!

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