Question:

Hello!

I am coming here with a question in regards to my marriage. My wife and I are newlyweds, just a few months into our marriage. However, at the moment things seem to be flipping upside down! My wife is a severely depressed person, and, as a result, we are fighting a lot. I won't say it is all her fault, but in our time spent together dating, engaged and married, probably 8 times out of 10 when we have conflict. It's because she's in a bad mood that day. I don't know how to get through to her. If I ask her what's wrong, she will lash out at me for asking and then I get mad for her lashing out, and then we fight. Or, if I carry on and act like nothing is bothering her, being my usual happy self and talking as if nothing is wrong, she will get mad at me for talking and then I'll get mad. Or, if I completely ignore her all together, she will get mad at me for not speaking to her and say the "you don't love me" card. See what I mean? Every path leads to conflict.

By nature, I think she is an extremely depressed person. Negative thinker. She always expects the worst, and when good things, instead of bad things, happen, she will think of something else to be unhappy about. For the longest time, she was working in a retail store part-time and this contributed to her depression in a huge way. She is very educated and had no luck finding a job in her field for a very long time. Day after day, she would explain how she hates her life, it's worthless, it has no meaning, she hates her job etc. Finally, something good happened! She was offered a job in her field and she took it. For about a week, she was actually quite happy. Then it died off quickly, as she began complaining about the job and saying it's boring, and once again went back to saying her life is boring, and she hates it. Last night, she was complaining about this and I got mad and said to her that nothing keeps her happy because she is constantly looking for something to be mad or upset about. Of course, I shouldn't have said this because it adds fuel to the fire but nothing good has come out of me saying that. She ignored me the rest of the night, and then this morning, she left the house and didn't say where she was going, ignoring my phone calls and text messages.

How can I help her?


Answer:

There is a warning that is repeated several times in Proverbs: "Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman" (Proverbs 21:9; see also Proverbs 21:19; 25:24). "Contentious" refers to a person who is never happy or satisfied. She always finds something wrong to complain about. Too often a man is so in love that he convinces himself that her complaints are tolerable or that they will stop after they get married. But the problem is that marriage doesn't change people.

"A continual dripping on a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike; whoever restrains her restrains the wind, and grasps oil with his right hand" (Proverbs 27:15-16). Like a leaking faucet, at first the conflicts are easy to ignore, but the sheer repetitiveness of them even gets on your nerves. Worse, there is nothing you can do to make a person bent on being contentious stop. As you've found out, even when things go well, this type of person will eventually find some flaw to focus on.

If you had talked to me before your marriage, I would have told you to find someone else because your life will be miserable. But we have to work with what you have. Even if I did warn you, most likely you would have dismissed the warning -- most guys do.

Since you can't force her to change, you have to take a different tact. First, on the rare occasions she does speak well of something, show interest and excitement about it. You might have to go a bit overboard with it. Second, when she complains, you will have to ignore the complaint. She'll get mad at you because she does this for the sympathy that she's always gotten from her complaining. When she asks why you are not acknowledging her complaints, say something like, "It is just the same old story. You have to choose to enjoy life. I can't make you find the good in things." Likely this will set off another round of complaints that you'll have to ignore. The problem with this tact is that you'll likely wear out before she shifts her attitude.

Next, see if you can convince her to see a good councilor. I'm not a fan of modern psychology, but perhaps if she gets feedback from another source that she sees as authoritative, she might realize that she has a problem.

Finally, you're going to need regular breaks where you can enjoy life. Find a good hobby, go for hikes, camp, whatever that takes you out of the stress so you can recover your balance.