Depressed Husband

Depressed Husband

4 Surprisingly Effective Ways to Bring Him Back to Life

Being married to Eeyore is excruciating. You’ve got to wonder why your guy doesn’t just look on the bright side.

But that’s not how depression works.

It makes sense that you want his depression to lift already so that the two of you can get back to laughing and having fun again.

His dark mood may be causing you more work, more loneliness and more heartbreak than you’d like to admit.

It’s frustrating.

Of course you’re not responsible for your husband’s depression, since you can only control yourself.

But you have tremendous influence over his outlook on life, including whether he feels confident and can-do or spirals into what’s-the-use mode.

Here are four powerful ways you can make the sun come out tomorrow.

Bet your bottom dollar on it:

1) Make Yourself Happy

You’re not the one who’s depressed, I realize, but you can’t say you’re overjoyed either, I bet.

Here’s how I know: husbands take a great deal of their sense of self-worth from knowing they are making their wives happy.

I’ve asked thousands of men about this. They all say the same thing about how vital it is for their wives to be happy.

Every. Single. One.

If you’re not happy, then he feels he’s failing at that vital mission.

And if you’ve been unhappy for years, he’s likely to feel that he’s got an impossible job he’ll never succeed at.

Who wouldn’t be depressed?

Therefore, instead of focusing on how he’s so blue, get into the pink yourself.

You may feel like his gloominess is the reason it’s hard to be happy yourself, and I get that. But there are still good times to be had.

Listen to your favorite up-tempo song five times in a row and do your happy dance.

Watch a movie you love, and talk to the friend who makes you laugh the hardest.

Have a chocolate éclair and a cup of coffee at a pretty café while you read a gossip page for 20 minutes.

While you’re in the afterglow, say out loud, while he’s in earshot, “I’m so happy! I feel great.”

Do whatever you can to make yourself smile so that he has a chance of feeling successful at making you happy.

Granted, you did it yourself, but now he knows that it’s possible for you to be happy, and he will want to pile on.

This step is indispensable for busting up your man’s blues because his outlook won’t improve one bit until yours does.

But on the flip side, as soon as he hears you laughing and sees you doing your groove thing down the hall, he will perk up.

I see it happen all the time.

2) Act Like You Trust Him

Depressed husbands need love the most when they deserve it the least.

Husbands feel loved when they know you see them as capable and competent. Click To Tweet

If he’s been out-of-sorts for a while, you may have started covering for him by putting the kids’ cheer competition on his calendar so he won’t forget, or reminding him to call his mom, or suggesting that he go to the doctor for antidepressants, for example.

You mean to help, but implicit in your actions is the message, “I don’t trust you to run your own life.”

That translates into, “You’re not capable and competent.”

For a husband, saying this is the same as saying, “You’re not lovable.”

Actions really do speak louder than words, and you can imagine how hearing that message from the woman who knows him best in the world would weaken his spirit.

I know you didn’t mean to make your husband’s gloomy mood worse. I didn’t either. But that’s what I unwittingly did before I knew any better.

It wasn’t until I started acting like I trusted him to take care of his life and some things for the both of us that my husband started to regain his optimism and confidence.

But as soon as I did, everyone noticed something was up with my husband.

“What happened to John?” they would ask me. “Has he been working out? He looks different.” One friend even said, “John looks taller.”

That’s because he was standing taller.

The same will happen to your husband when you start acting like you think he’s competent—even if that means you have to pretend.

3) Ask for His Help with Your Problem

On his show The Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan helped a couple whose dog was restless and destructive by making a backpack for the dog to carry.

When the couple walked the dog with his backpack on, it changed the dog’s whole demeanor. You could see the dog puffing up with pride that he had made a contribution to his “pack.”

Your husband has the same inner drive to feel useful, and may feel similarly distressed if you’re eliminating the need for him to contribute by operating independently.

Consider running a problem past him and asking for his thoughts on how to solve it.

Ask if you can “borrow his brain.”

It could be something at work that you’re not sure how to handle, or a worry about your mom, or his advice on how to get your phone to stop playing music randomly.

You may not feel you need his help, but wouldn’t it be nice to have it?

He may come up with something you never would have thought of. Husbands often do. That’s one of the reasons you married him.

If you like his idea, great–you can thank him and be on your way.

If you don’t like his idea, chances that means there’s something else you want that he doesn’t know about and he needs that information to help you get it.

Maybe you want to solve the problem without troubling your boss, or bring your sister along, or to have your phone just behave itself without carving out time for tech support…and his plan doesn’t allow for that additional thing you want.

Even if what you want doesn’t seem all that reasonable, that’s okay–you can let him know that part too by saying, “I also wanted _____.”

Continue to express each desire as you recognize it during this conversation so he can make suggestions that take those into consideration.

The goal is not for you to just do what he suggests because he suggests it. The goal is for you to have what you really want.

That’s what he wants too–to make you happy.

4) Appreciate Him Three Times a Day

Here’s where we are so far: you’re happy and your husband sees that, and he knows he can succeed in making you happy.

He also knows you think he’s competent and capable.

He’s even feeling the glow of knowing that he’s solved your problem.

Who wouldn’t be feeling more optimistic already, right?

You might even catch him whistling, or laughing, or making bedroom eyes at you again, like his old self.

That’s how successful and light he’s going to feel when you implement these suggestions. And that’s true if he’s been diagnosed with depression and he’s on medication, or he’s been diagnosed and he’s not on medication, or he refuses to get diagnosed.

None of that matters nearly as much as what he sees when he looks in his wife-mirror.

Now it’s time to put the frosting on the frosting by appreciating him at least three times a day for his contributions, big or small.

You can be grateful he made your coffee, or shuttled one of the kids to their lessons, or that he works so hard to support the family (even if you do, too).

Appreciate that he unloaded the dishwasher, that he listened to your problem, and that he was so accommodating when your family was over.

Acknowledge that he lightens your load because he takes good care of the cars, handles the taxes or whacks the weeds.

When you do, you’ll no longer find yourself tempted to tell him to “snap out of it.”

You won’t need to because soon, he will be out of the depressed fog and seeing possibilities and feeling hopeful.

He’ll also be feeling proud, competent and accomplished again.

After all, the woman who knows him best in the world treats him that way.

That’s all the evidence he needs that all is right with the world.


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38 thoughts on “Depressed Husband”

  1. Dear Laura:
    How much your counsels are helping my marriage!!
    I continúe learning a lot with your blog counsels.thanks a lot for this beautiful part special for all wives we have a deppresed husband as my case he is bipolar.i am very happy seeing happy with me and doing things better day by day.
    I share your book with all woman i met your fantastic suggestions and i encourage all my friends to buy and to read your books.
    Yes Laura.thank you.
    Mercedes

    Reply
  2. My husband seems more depressed when I am happy. He makes fun of me going to excercise class or gong out with friends. He wants me to stay home and be depressed with him

    Reply
    • Esther, Sometimes when you first change it up it makes others uncomfortable because it’s not the usual. I’d be curious to know what happens with sustained happy on your part. He knows he can get a reaction from you with his current approach. Wonder what would happen if he didn’t get that reaction? Also, how’s the respect at your house?

      Reply
  3. I really needed this today! 2 out of 4 just doesn’t cut it… My goal is to be vulnerable enough to give him some problems to fix instead of feeling independent and responsible for my own stuff. Secondly, I’m going to revise my gratitude list to make sure it’s complete. Then I’m going to create new opportunities to tell him those gratitudes. This ought to be a great experience! Thank you, Laura, AGAIN!

    Reply
  4. Good blog. I especially like “the wife mirror.” I’m gonna use that phrase. In my work we say the horses mirror our thoughts by our energy and intention. I never though of our husbands doing the same thing. But they do. In fact, all people do.

    Reply
  5. “The goal is not for you to just do what he suggests because he suggests it. The goal is for you to have what you really want.

    That’s what he wants too–to make you happy.”

    That. Is brilliant. That is what separates your intimacy skills from other marriage clap-trap. No hidden motives–weird! ?

    Reply
  6. I was flabbergasted when I saw this email come in…..I’m dealing with this very subject! My hubby has been very depressed the last several months, and even though I try to get him out of this “funk”, these suggestions will help him even more….thank you!!

    Reply
  7. Thanks Laura. This is a great blog. Thank you very much for this. My marriage has been Drastically transformed since graduating from your relationship corse a few years ago. I have been able to apply your intimacy skills and see it working over & over again, even still after graduating many years ago. You are the best, Laura. Thank you so much for all your knowledge and coaching. Feels great to have a happy & fulfilling marriage.

    Reply
  8. I feel like you were in my home watching what I have been going through. I did take over the mommy role with him as I could not trust him to remember his meds amongst other things! He did recently solve a big problem I was stressing over and I did see a hint of him sticking his chest out again! Thanks!

    Reply
  9. I love your advice and as soon as I started reading your blogs, I started taking your advice right away… I have tried everything and I think it’s card more complicated than this… I would love to save my marriage, but I have no clue what to do.. I have 4 kids with my previous marriage and all kids are with my 1st husband as well.. I feel like the kids are always an issue and when he mistreat them it kind of makes me want to lash out on him, but I continue to be humble and I respect my husband but I really feel lost at this point?? I need your help or my marriage will and up in divorce. Intamcy is not there and he loves to boss me around and I feel like a child cause my husband tries to make every decision even with my children, I started hanging out with friends and having conversations on the phone, I’ve tried giving him his space and giving myself my own space. Helppp! I ordered your book and waiting for it to come, so maybe I’ll get some more great advice. I’m praying things just change and btw we have been married 11 years, we both seem unhappy at this point.. When I’m at work I feel great and now I’m starting to dread coming home.. What’s wrong with me??

    Reply
    • Nisha, WI would not like to feel bossed around like a child either, or to see my kids mistreated, so I can see why you feel hurt and scared. I’m glad you’re getting some friend-time in, and I think the book will help a lot. I would love to see you get some support. You can definitely save your marriage, but it’s tricky to do it by yourself. Consider applying for a complimentary discovery call so you’re not alone with these challenges. You can do that here:
      https://lauradoyle.org/marriage-relationship-coaching

      Reply
  10. Thanks for this, i don’t know how much more i can take. My husband will remind me im doing something wrong 24 hours a day…while I’m practicing skills. I didn’t shut the door correctly, i didn’t lay the book right, I’m making the dog too wild by playing with her, i forgot this, i forgot that. He is an amazing man….but 24 hours a day is making me crazy!!!! I don’t know what to do anymore! I’ve tried ouch, I’ve tried just saying thank you…nothing works. Today I went off on a tirade…he literally alerted me 4 times in an hour about things i was doing wrong. I couldn’t take it anymore…i’m human. He gets like this for about 8 months out of the year…when the cold weather comes on he becomes critical and bossy. He criticizes nearly EVERYTHING i do.

    Reply
    • B.B., Sounds like death by 1,000 cuts. Yikes! You’re on the right track with “Ouch!” Even though he did it again, each time you say, “Ouch!” you’re keeping your side of the street clean versus the emotional hangover after the tirade. I remember what that was like. Felt kinda lousy. If you keep up the “Ouch!” over time you will teach him how to treat you differently. Also, how is your self-care? That’s the first place I go when my husband is driving me batty. Sometimes it just means I need a nap.

      Reply
  11. Wow! Got this just when I needed it! My husband is very stressed out from work its been a long time he feels unsuccessful and it effects every part of his and our life. I try to be positive and upbeat, Supporting and understanding. He tells me I don’t understand because I’m a stay at home mom and not out there in work place….
    I read the book and get the emails they are very helpful. I try to make myself happy doing things for me but it’s not easy always being the upbeat one…

    Reply
    • Michal, It’s NOT easy always being the upbeat one. But it feels a lot harder when I’m trying to get him to be upbeat too, versus just concerning myself with my own happiness as much as you can. Listening and empathy is important, but also reflecting back that he can handle it, that he’s got it because he’s a strong man. It helped when I detached from wanting him to stop being depressed and focused on what I wanted and making myself happy. Sounds like you’re on the right track!

      Reply
  12. Thanks Laura! Great advise! I love receiving your e-mails, they always bring me back to what I need to do to improve my marriage. It is not an easy task, more when you have to fake it,. All I know is that LOVE is powerful, and I have seen little changes when I apply love.

    Reply
  13. Laura, Thank you for this email. It was right on time. You’re blessing!!! I will apply these tips. And thanks to all of the ladies for sharing something so personal. Your posts are encouraging. #Winning Marriages #Surrendered WifeEmpoweredWoman

    Reply
  14. Some of these symptoms sound like PTSD. We are in counseling now but I was wondering if your solutions would help dealing with the symptoms of it. I now have a new understanding of ptsd which has enabled me to see my combat vet husband in a more loving way. I guess I’m trying to figure out if his symptoms are more concrete than general depression or according to your experience your advice works for everyone. Your advice makes sense so I think I will try to find your book. Thanks

    Reply
    • Kathy, Yes, my husband was diagnosed with ADD, and I thought that was going to help a bunch but it turned out to be irrelevant after I learned the 6 Intimacy Skills. I had the power all along. Just like Dorothy. You may have the same experience. Can’t hurt to experiment! Sounds like you’re married to a courageous guy.

      Reply
      • Thanks for your response. Which book do you recommend? and yes he is brave. He also has ADD on top of the PTSD so I have to be pretty well organized! I like the idea of asking for help. It has been so long since I really did.

        Reply
        • Kathy, I recommend The Empowered Wife because it lays out the Six Intimacy Skills very clearly. I admire you being brave enough to ask for help. You and your husband match!

          Reply
  15. Laura, is Asperger’s in a husband a bogus diagnosis? it seemed to answer so many questions of why he does things the way he does. Was he just lacking my trust and respect and self love? or could Asperger coaching also help?

    Reply
    • Rachel, Great question! You’re beginning to see things the way I see them. A therapist once told me that every wife who hears the description for Asperger’s thinks her husband has it.

      Asperger’s coaching could only ever help the person who has Asperger’s. Since that’s not you, it sounds like you’d want it to change him, which never worked for me.

      What you focus on increases. It never helped to label my husband with a “deficit” and “disorder.”

      Now you have discovered the power to make things amazing. Exciting!

      Reply
  16. Laura, I’ve read the surrender wife (fantastic!) And I just finished “first The Empowered Wife two days ago. (Brilliant!)
    I have been practicing the skills for about a month-and-a-half now since I read the first book and I’ve noticed a change in myself and that I’m happier which is amazing and I thought things were going well and much better between me and my husband until yesterday, when I saw that he messaged a girl he previously casually talked to before we got married, for her phone number and told her that he missed her and added hearts and other emojis to the messages 🙁 . This is a girl that we previously got into arguments about before i started the 6 skills and he promised me that he would no longer have contact with her and now to see this after all the work that I’ve been doing feels so devastating and I feel like I’m stuck and helpless and I don’t know what to do now. When I should him it and said ouch he says he just doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong..
    Do you have any advice on what to do when your husbands flirting and messaging other women?

    Reply
    • Nicole, so sorry to hear about the painful betrayal in your marriage. Sounds really painful. I wouldn’t like it if my husband was flirting and messaging other women either. This is solvable. It sounds like you have a really good start with using the 6 Intimacy Skills, which I admire. They can be a little tricky to implement by yourself, and I’d love to see you get support around this issue, which is a longer conversation than a blog post response allows. Come and have a complimentary discovery call to uncover the best next move for your relationship. You can do that here:
      https://lauradoyle.org/marriage-relationship-coaching/

      Reply
  17. Just started reading Surrender wife to help us out. We have been married for 16yrs wish I could say it all been great. A few years ago my husband told me he didn’t know if he loved me anymore. I really didn’t know what to do so I did nothing. Then things seemed fine for a while.
    That’s when you wake up and say somethings not right. We started married counseling went helped me find myself again after being at stay-at-mom for nine years. My husband was depressed and start on meds. He seem to be doing better then he quit taking them and wanted to stop counseling. It wasn’t really helping to much anyway expected I learned my husband wasn’t attracted to me anymore. Which really hurt me and its hard to forget he feels that way.
    We are doing a little better but he sleeps on the couch. We kiss, hug and talk but thats it. I asked why he won’t sleep in our bed and just says he doesn’t know. I guess I’m not seeing what his (I don’t know) mean.
    I have been using, I would love, whatever you think, and I want. I have noticed we are communicating more. I know things don’t happen over night but I wish they did. I love my husband and don’t want to lose him but at times I feel I have already have. I know he feels like I don’t respect him much because of my inattentive ADD I’m not the greatest house keeper. I’m trying to make things better but get overwhelmed and just look past my clutter piles. I guess I’m just venting because I have a few friends to talk and they listen but then they have to give advice about cleaning house. My house is clean just cluttered. Anyway Thanks for listening.

    Reply
    • Ann, It is incredibly painful to hear that your husband isn’t attracted to you anymore! I wish marriage counselors wouldn’t set you up like that. But the good news is that’s all reversible, and even though he’s sleeping on the couch, you can draw him back into your bed and have it feel exciting and passionate again. It has nothing to do with your housekeeping or clutter, so I don’t care about that. I’d like to see you get some support from someone who won’t try to tell you how to clean your house. Consider a complimentary discovery call to discover the best next move you can make for your marriage. It can happen fast, actually. But it can be tricky to do it by yourself. I’m grateful for my community of like-minded women, and I’d love to see you get the same thing. Here’s the link to apply for the discovery call:
      https://lauradoyle.org/marriage-relationship-coaching/

      Reply
  18. I just wanted to say I am so glad I found this blog post. I read the Surrendered Single about a lifetime ago (maybe 12 years ago, before I started dating my husband). To make a long story short, depression runs in his family and not in mine so I have no idea how to best support him when he goes through a major depressive episode. I think he works very hard at being self aware and complying with treatment, and *I* thought things were okay enough (it’s true that our communication is pretty eroded- the past year has been a tough one), but he decided that he thinks we should “consider” a trial separation. After a couple of discussions, he’s backed down and agreed to “work on it,” whatever that means. I know that I can’t force him to do things my way (even if it’s a “shortcut,”) and was at a loss for other things I could do differently. Believe it or not, I have a couple of “mommy friends” who also have husbands dealing with depression, so I have a support network, but it’s always great to be introduced to new ideas. I already applied for a discovery call and am listening to “First The Empowered Wife,” but just wanted to say I really appreciated this post!

    Reply
    • Mandy, Great to hear you’re finding this a helpful resource! That’s why I write it. I predict you’ll see an improvement in your husband’s depression and the connection in your marriage with The 6 Intimacy Skills. Yay!

      Reply
  19. Hi Laura,

    I just read your book last week and it was the first book I felt really resonated for me on an emotional level. My husband and I were so in love back in the day and now I am very confused. We still have sex (and I enjoy it) regularly and sometimes he flirts with me but he is only available when he wants to be. If I say I’m feeling needy or that I want some attention he sort of backs off or ignores me. If he’s like this and I feel hurt I sometimes get upset and then might cry. He doesn’t comfort me or anything. I don’t understand what’s changed. Having two small kids makes this harder.

    Reply
    • Miriam, I can see why you’re feeling confused. I would be hurt to receive no consolation when I’m feeling needy. I love your commitment and your vulnerability, which is so attractive.

      I felt deeply sad when my efforts to get the attention and affection I needed only drove my husband further away. It seemed he wanted to do anything but spend time with me, especially when I most needed it. Then I learned how to attract my husband with the 6 Intimacy Skills. Now he can’t stay away!

      If I can do it, you can too. I’ll show you how in my upcoming free Introductory Course on the 6 Intimacy Skills at https://lauradoyle.org/swewtraining/.

      Reply

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