Good-will fishing

Published 7:57 am Friday, May 8, 2009

A recent study indicated that there is a correlation between depression and divorce.

We know that divorce can cause depression, but can depression cause divorce?

Severe depression can be a downward spiral of negativity, isolation, emotional upheaval, hopelessness and defeat.

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Not all depression is that extreme, but negative thoughts, isolating behavior, unstable or unpredictable emotions, that persistent feeling of “what’s the point?” and believing that nothing will ever change or get better can not be good for a marriage relationship.

Those negative thoughts can so easily twist everything into a personal attack on all of your heart-felt efforts and good will toward your mate (who in turn feels attacked and twisted).

Maybe the question is not can “depression be a factor in divorce,” but “how can it not help but affect even a good marriage?”

Depression can have a damaging effect on marriage.

It can be a downward hopeless cycle when the state of the marriage affects the emotional/mental state of the individuals and the emotional/mental state of the individuals affect the state of the marriage.

Is this what we bargained for when we committed ourselves to “for better or worse, in sickness and in health, (till death do us part)”? It may not be what we bargained for but it is what we committed to.

It is hard to go on feeling good about the relationship and the other person when there seems to be so much negativity in thought or words and with growing emotional distance. How can two individuals work together when one is struggling with depression?

Depression is not the only negative factor that can affect a marriage.

We know that conflict about sex, money, children and lack of communication are the most prevalent causes for relationship breakdowns, but a depressed outlook only works to taint or complicate these even more.

Even a mild depression can sabotage efforts to improve the relationship. And depression or the depressed person shouldn’t become the scapegoat for all of the problems in a relationship. You don’t have to be depressed to be negative, unkind, uncaring or mean to your spouse.

Recognizing depression

It may help to know and understand some of the symptoms of depression to recognize if this is a factor in the persistent tension in a relationship.

Is the person’s appetite or sleep affected, is the person becoming less social/more isolated, does the person feel down/hopeless/sad more often, has the person lost interest in things they used to enjoy, or do they feel tired all the time?

These are just some the signs to look for but do not necessarily mean that depression is the only indicator.

Look for the best in your spouse.

It’s easy to say what they are doing wrong or to tell them what is wrong with them. Take the time to see the good will in them even if they are struggling to see that in themselves.

Marriage is a commitment for better or worse, in sickness and in health. That doesn’t mean that the relationship will always be easy with no struggles, but if you or your spouse continue to be frustrated with the same conflicts and struggle to work through persistent issues seek the help of a qualified professional like a pastor or mental health professional.