Different marital approaches leaving wife depressed


My wife is experienceing a lot of depression. She seems to think that I emotionally abuse her, but I disagree. She thinks that I am to much of a control freak, and I just don’t see that. I think alot of it comes from the different types of families that we come from.

I come from a family whereby, my Dad was unquestionable the head of the household. He was where the buck stopped. He was a great provider and always put everyone else before him. He worked tirelessly. My Dad loved us all, but he demanded respect. I have to admit my Dad is a very big and intimidating man. When he walks into a room his presence is immediatly felt. He raised us kids to be good moral people, although he had his faults to, which I will get to in a minute.

My wife on the other hand comes from a completely different family. They are both good parents, however, her parents almost never argue or get loud. Her Mom wears the pants in the family, and runs her husbands life. She makes most all the decisions, and he follows her lead. My father in law used to have hobbies such as reloading, hunting and shooting, but she has effectively trimmed them all from his activities becasue she does not like them. My mother in law and father in law are both united Methodist ministers. My wifes Mother is a feminist, and got worse when she went to college to become a pastor. DOn;t get me wrong, they are both good people, they have always been there for us. However we disagree as to how a family should be run.

Now back to my Dad. We kids feared our Dad. I am 40 years old and I still fear my Dad. My Father never abused us physically, however, I have to admit that there was some emotional abuse at times. My Dad was both severeally physically and emotionally abused as a child. I am sure that some of that abuse came through to all of us kids. I am also sure that I have passed a little bit of that on, although I have worked hard to make sure that has not happend. However I am so proud of how my Dad turned out, compared to what he came from. He is a good man, a good Dad, and a good husband, although he is flawed just as we all are.

Part of the problem is that my wife and I come from 2 very different families. We both approach disagreements, problem solving, and child rearing from very different perspectives. Her Mom and Dad think that I am abusive, because they say that I am loud, arrogant and a control freak. My family thinks that I don’t have control of my family enough.

I like to think that I am in the middle ground. I do not look at myself as a control freak. I do however demand respect. I take seriously the role of being the head of the household, however I try to balance that with loving my wife as I love myself, as scripture commands. Now how my wife and I look at respect, and our families look at respect is a bone of contension.

I am not a tyrnat. I do not tell my wife what she can and cannot do. I do voice my opinion if I think something is imprudent though. There has only been one time in our 13 years of marraige that I have put my foot down and said this is how it is going to be. i told her that I will have my children raised catholic. Othe than that we have made decision pretty much jointly.

Anyhow there is more to tell, but that is enough for the moment.

I feel bad that my wife is depressed, however I do not know what to do to help her…it is exasperating at times…

I love her so much, and I cannot imagine life without her, however something has to change…I am trying to change myself, however I cannot except that I am the sole reason for all her depression…maybe that is wrong but that is how I feel…
What do I do from here?


Are you treating your wife the way that you would want to be treated?

You don’t have to answer me.

Remember the most important commandment the Lord said to observe.

First of all…keep your families out of your business. You should not even be hearing, asking or receiving the opinions of her family, nor yours…you are your own family and just because your dad did something this way doesn’t make it right and just because her mother did something that way doesn’t make it right…you have to decide TOGETHER how things are going to be. You need to let YOUR heart and HER heart be the judge as to how to raise your family…

Fear does not result in love. That’s my experience and opinion.


Bravo, well-stated.

I suffered a nervous breakdown 4 years into our marriage. There were many reasons, but the inability of my husband to find compassion for me without reference to “others” within our sphere contributed greatly to my depression. There was little I did that wasn’t done better by one or the other of his parents, who, by the way, divorced when he was 17.

Today our marriage is strong and healthy. My husband has learned that creating a marriage starts with only two people, the husband and the wife.


Actually, three — don’t forget Jesus!


**Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated,
it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. **

From what you say you are not loving in this manner taken from St Paul. Pray about it and truly ask yourself deeply if you show your love for your wife in this manner.

Truthfully none of us love in this manner, but we are all aspiring to because this is how Jesus loves us and you must love your wife in the same way.

Whether you are the source of your wife’s depression I don’t know but you are not presently helping her situation.

I hate to tell you but you are not in control, no-one is, God is in control and we are to co-operate with HIs Ways not do it our ‘way’. If anyone is to be ‘head’ then they must be servant of all and count themselves least of all putting all others before themselves.

Remove all outside family influence, what goes between a married couple is between a married couple and you and your wife must conduct your marriage befitting to both of your personalities and not how other people see fit for it to be.

Your wife needs peace.

Tell her that if she feels you are not helping her situation you are truly sorry and that you love her very much and you will do whatever it takes to help her to be content again because you love her very much more than you love your ‘self’.

When your wife has peace, so will you as you are as one in Jesus.

I will keep you both in the Living Prayer of my life.


May God’s peace, love and mercy be with you all!

Sometimes it is hard for us to see or realize how we act or treat others. Sometimes we may not be angry but the way we say things, the tone of our voice or the manner of our actions are perceived differently. For any relationship to work, we really have to stop and look deep into our hearts and also be open and listen to what others are telling us. It is also important to see things from the perspective of other people. If your intention is pure (for the greater love of God), then you can explain it to your wife why you are doing things or making decisions in a certain way. Of course, rudeness or arrogance is not excusable.

Ask God in prayer to illuminate your conscience so you will come to the knowledge of His Truth. He will surely let you know when you have failed to be charitable with your wife or with others, when you have offended Him.

As a Catholic, strive to be closer with Jesus by receiving the sacraments often (holy communion and confession). For remember, God is the Third person in your marriage.

Pray and have a heart to heart talk, without the screaming, the blaming and the yelling and just truly listen to each other. One has to let the other finish talking and try to avoid interrupting each other. If that can’t be done at that point in time because of too much anger and emotions, you both will have to do it at another time when both of you have cooled of. After hearing each other’s frustrations and disappointments, you will both have to apologize to each other’s failings, misgivings, lack of charity etc. Express your love and gratitude to each other. Reflect on the great sacrifice of Our Good Lord Jesus on the Cross for the love of us and how each and everyone of us are called to imitate Him - daily dying to ourselves, to our own selfishness, pride, disobedience and self love. Then talk about a compromise on how things need to be done in order to avoid situations that are hurtful to your marriage. Ask her how can you help her? How can you make it better for her? Then you can also tell her how she can also help you and make your marriage work and grow deeper with God’s grace. Always have a respectful, loving, frequent, honest communication with each other.

Praying for you and for all…God bless!

Blessed be Jesus and Mary!


Hey Gospel , my husband and I have had some of these kinds of things going on and were unable to really put them into words untill we read a book called " love and respect" its good information , we read it together and made changes together … sometimes I still feel micro managed , but when I remember how it was in the early years living together without God and me being the leader ( and botching it badly of course ) I am greatful indeed … the writer of the book kind of belabors a point to death , but it might help discussion along … I pray for you … keep your chin up and eyes focused on Jesus … Debbie


Whooops! :blush:


Thank you all for your responses, I appreciate it. I guess I want to start off saying that I do treat my wife as I would want to be treated. I love her very much, and treat as such.

I does get difficult at times however, because I work 2 jobs, and do most of the cooking, cleaning and laundry of the household. She spends much of her time sleeping because she is depressed.

I agree that both of our families need to stay out of our business, however because my wifes parents lived right down the street up until about a month ago, that was difficult. Also her parents are both United Methodist Pastors, so I get the feeling that they feel they have a right to comment on the state of our marraige. In fact before they moved they brought our marraige problems to the attention of another Pastor friends of theirs before they left. I am very angry about that. If I wanted anyone else to know about the state of my marraige I would tell them. I felt deeply betrayed by that…


Dear Gospel,
You have gotten plenty of sound advice. Especially about the two of you not allowing anyone except the Lord (or possibly a counselor of your choice) to have that kind of input or authority over your marriage.

I just want to speak as a wife who in the past was emotionally abused and who was depressed, and still have to do battle with it on occasion. But I am in a strong, healthy marriage now, and I have the hindsight available to see some things now that I didn’t then.

Personally, I am a quiet, more reserved sort of person, and also sensitive. I was, in the past, overshadowed, thought of as one who should be quietly obeying, not trying to do any thinking, or heaven forbid, express any contrary opinions. My spirit was crushed. Thank the Lord, I was able, with His help to climb out of that place, but it was hard and took years. I am still having to work at it, but thank God I have a husband now who is on my side totally. I am treated like a whole person, my thoughts and wishes are taken into account.

I commend you for inviting us on this forum in, and for helping your wife by doing the tasks she isn’t right now Can the two of you block out everyone else’s opinions and discuss just what you need to do together to help?

I think you have to be careful if your wife is of a gentle and quiet nature, that you don’t squash her voice in your relationship. Especially if your personality tends to want to dominate. Don’t fall into the trap many men can tend to, by worrying that people may see you as “henpecked” because you listen and take into heavy account, your wife’s feelings and opinions. Sometimes even giving up on some of your own. This is true Catholic leadership. Laying down your life…loving your wife as Christ loves the Church.

I beleive that if your wife sees that you value her thoughts and opinions, and will even defer to her when something is very important to her, she may be able to begin to take the steps necessary to overcome her depression.

And truly, if she is not able to function because of it, it is possible she should get some treatment. Often a little professional help can get a depressed person started on the road to recovery.

My prayers for you both…




Is your wife under medical care for her depression? Please make sure she sees her doctor about this. Depression does definately often make people exhausted, but so do other physical ailments. Make sure she is getting exercise also. Even though you are very busy, take her out for a walk each day. As well as getting exercise and fresh air, that can be a nice time for you 2 to talk.

Yes, her parents probably did butt in much more than wanted, especially by telling others about you. However, be grateful that they have moved and kindly, but firmly tell the other pastors to butt out too. I assume you are Catholic since you are here, so there is no need to get counseling from Methodist pastors.

I have family members with depression on both sides, so I know how difficult things can be for you. I’ll be praying.


I do however demand respect.

Respect should be earned and reciprocated, even when you are respectable. :slight_smile:

With that aside, she needs to see a doctor to be properly diagnosed and treated if necessary. Depression can be a lot more than just “feeling down” so please see that she receives a proper evaluation. Depression can be downright debilitating.

I will pray for you both. :slight_smile:


corinthians tells us to respect our husbands … it does not say they must earn it … the bible clearly teaches that husbans are commanded to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands … its an evil of this world that says a persons dignity is dependent upon how another person feels about them …


Hi Gospel,

We can’t make many calls without knowing you and your family personally, but I can say this: respect cannot be demanded. It can only be earned. Any respect one gets by “demand” is not really respect, but fear or just the fake appearance of respect in order to appease the demander.

A husband has not earned respect unless he gives his wife equal respect.

Prayer, open communication, and counseling if possible. Your familes of origin will always be in your heads and partially running your marriage until you both learn what those influences are and how they effect your relationship. This is where counseling can be a great help.

And more prayer! :slight_smile:


this whole story reminds me of the “Can this Marriage be Saved” feature in Ladies Home Journal, a long running series. bottom line, marriage counselling, and individual counselling for both of you to resolve deep issues, that you correctly identify as originating in your childhoods. no amount of discussion here will help. the reason is that on your own, you most likely cannot diagnose and treat, but professionals are trained to listen to both of you tell your stories, and help you uncover and deal with the real issues.

It does not really matter if “I don’t feel I am controlling (sloppy, lazy, bossy etc.) but my wife/husband says I am.” It matters what each spouse perceives and how they react to that perception, and what behaviors and mind-sets really to need to change to lay the groundwork for successful marriage.

Depression is a medical illness, with emotional, psychological and spiritual components, and successful treatment addresses all those areas. we will be praying for you both.


I do not intend, in any way, to minimize the differences in spouses and families here. But I know one thing for sure. If your wife has a brain chemistry-based depression, then not one thing in your post has any necessary relevance to her condition.

I know for an absolute certitude that people suffering from depression of that particular sort can construct all sorts of “reasons” for it; most of which are patterns of thought they have devised over time to deal with something they cannot control. Their family members often do the same thing, and everybody drives himself/herself crazy trying to figure out how to “fix” it or “understand” it. But nothing really helps, except perhaps very temporarily.

I don’t know if this is her problem, but that business of excessive sleeping (or staying in bed and not sleeping) is highly suggestive.

I am going to say that if this is her situation, only medication will do any lasting good. Usually, it’s a serotonin-uptake problem, and should be dealt with only by a competent psychiatrist. (Do NOT go to a GP for it.) Then, with a truly skilled psychologist followup, she and the family can learn to “unconstruct” all of the patterns of thinking that have led them down wrong paths.

Nobody likes to think he/she or a family member has this problem, and sometimes it’s even more “comforting” to cast it in terms of “your mother…your behavior…my father…my behavior”. But just like diabetes, if it’s a medical problem (and it is, most of the time), and has a medical solution (and it does, most of the time), then all of the mental and emotional effort spent on trying to resolve it in some other way is just a waste.

And no, you won’t convince her to go to a psychiatrist. You have to TAKE her. If her psychologic strength is as weak as I think it might be, she’ll protest, but she’ll go. People with this problem (if that’s what it is) WANT to be cured. They just don’t know how to get it done, and don’t have the strength to undertake it themselves.


Again, I am not purporting to diagnose here, and I want to make that crystal clear. Nor am I saying family problems don’t or couldn’t exist. But I am saying if there is a chemistry problem, none of this is going to get worked out until that’s resolved.

I cannot emphasize enought, either, that if that’s the situation, there is a lot that has to be “unlearned” in the family. A serious depression problem with one spouse or both masks everything that needs work, and it can cause personalities to get warped out of shape.


I’m just gonna say a few things…

This isn’t the in-laws ot the parents’ problem. It’s both you and your wife alone. Getting other people mixed into the mess makes matters worse, period.

The other thing I want to say is simply this… both of you, take time to look into the Theology of the Body.


I have to say that I strongly disagree with this statement. It does not matter what the other persons percieves, unless it is the truth that is being percieved. To think otherwise, to me, is to use faulty perception as a club to blame the other person for something that he is not culpable for. To “put it in plain english” as Father Corapi would say, if you did not do the crime, you shouldn’t have to do the time.

to use an example, I may falsely percive that it is raining outside, when in fact it is really sunny outside. My perception that it is raining is false. No sane person would say that it is raining outside, when in fact it is really sunny.

What I am getting at is that I should not be held responsible for a perception about myself held by my wife that is not true. I can percieve until the cows come home, but if my perception is wrong or faulty, then I cannot blame the other person for this. To do so would be a sin against truth and justice in my book.

I guess perception is a bit of a sore spot with me because it is the major problem in our communications. I love my wife, very much, but she tends to think that she can read my mind and tell me what I am thinking. She accuses me of being angry with her quite often, when the fact of the matter is that I am not. I tell her that I am not angry with her, but she keeps pushing and accusing me until at times I do get angry. Not because of the original reason she accused me of, but because of the nagging and insinuation that I am lieing to her that I am not angry with her. Then she uses my reaction after being nagged at to support her claim that “aha, I knew you were mad at me”. It becomes a self fulfilling prophesy, leaving me no way to diffuse the situation, except to take the accusation that I am mad at her and lieing about it. That does drive me crazy after awhile. I have told her a couple of times, that only me and God know what I am thinking and the last time I checked you were not God. I know that sounds bad, but it is how I honestly feel at times…

I feel like at times I am being emotionally blackmailed. I know that this cannot continue the way it is. I know that I am not perfect. I know I have a long way to go to be the person God wants me to be, but I know that admitting to be some kind of tyrant or contoller, when I am not, is not going to solve any problems. I will not allow myself to be portrayed or percived in a way that is not true.

The good thing is that we are looking into getting some counseling. I hope that this works, because after all of this I do feel a anger working up inside of me that i do not want to have…
Please pray for us…


Well, certainly if your wife’s perception of you is wrong, then it’s quite possible that your perception of your wife is wrong, too. It’s a two-way street, my friend. :slight_smile:

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