I am in great need of advice and prayer. I have been married for almost four years and we have a two year old daughter. Due to a long list of unfortunate events culminating in my husband being laid off, we have had to move in with my parents. We have been here since the beginning of the summer, and our situation is not looking to get any better any time soon.
DH does have a job at a local grocery chain, and is making a steady paycheck, but the problem is that our paychecks combined are not enough to get us out of my parents’ house and there is not enough to save. We’re both looking for better paying jobs, but the market is pretty rough.
To top all of this off my husband’s depression is getting (understanably) worse and instead of talking to me about his worries and anxieties, he looks for comfort in a bottle of booze. I am afraid of the pattern I’m seeing in this. My grandfather and my father were both drinkers, and eventually both became abusive both physically and emotionally. I don’t see this in my husband yet, but the fear is there…
I feel sorry for my husband. I know that he is under a lot of stress and pressure as he feels he needs to be the breadwinner. I do what I can to comfort him and offer him my ear, but I never get any more than a shrug anymore. He has very few guy friends to talk to, and the ones he does have are busy with families of their own. Like I said, I feel sorry for him, but I am also at the end of my tolerance for his hopeless attitude.
He’s stopped looking for a job because he says that it’s hopeless. He does very little to help around the house, and leaves 90% of the childcare to me. He does some, but very little. He mopes and complains and whines about what **** his life is, but has no motivation to do anything about it. As time goes on, this is getting worse.
I know that we are not the only ones in this situation, by far. In fact, I know that this is a fairly common situation in the present economic times. I just want my husband back. I miss talking to him, snuggling with him on the couch with a movie and a bucket of popcorn, walking around our favorite places, taking the baby to the park…We do NOTHING. He’s so worried about money that he watches every penny. Everything is too much money so we do nothing.
What should I do? I know that we’re still pretty new at this marriage thing, but I don’t want to lose my husband before we’ve even begun. I believe in my marriage vows and would never leave him. I want to help him, but I’m running out of ideas. Church is not a help, because I don’t know what he even gets out of going. I can’t get him to discuss faith issues with me anymore either. He just says he’s depressed and its all hopeless.
Aww I am so sorry that you guys are having a hard time. They really weren’t kidding in those vows when they put in in good times and in bad…and in the past year a lot of couples have hit the bad, probably much sooner than they had dreamed. Your situation isn’t what you had planned, but they say if you want to make God laugh tell him your plans. Your husband probably feels overwhelmed, ashamed and stressed. You guys need to just focus on one day at a time. It is so daunting to look ahead and see so many trials ahead, so just get through each day.
What helps me when I am down is reading of the struggles of the Saints who have come before. Maybe go to the library and get some good books on Saints. Manly ones, that your husband can feel empowered by. If he isn’t getting much out of church, maybe his faith needs to be invigorated and that is why Christ has brought you this point. Sometimes we have to be on our knees before we can understand why we need Him.
Just remember - this isn’t permanent…let him know that you will be there for all of his victories as well, just as you are now for this hard time.
Praying for you!
Just remember, God is good ALL THE TIME. Even when it doesn’t feel good, He is good.
Pray for your husband, and see if there are activities he can get involved with to help take his mind off of the issues, besides the bottle. Volunteering with KoC or Habitat for Humanity are great ways to take the focus off of one’s own situation for a while.
So sorry about your worries. Here’s what I did to deal with my problems(got laid off from my job, my son was diagnosed with cancer and he has no health insurance) Very difficult to do and there’s always danger of backsliding. I told Our Blessed Mother that I can’t do anything about my problems, I was powerless to do anything about them. So, I said I was going to pray the Rosary for her intentions and asked her to take care of my problems. Only God knows what’s best for me and my family and He will open the doors that need to be opened for me. Now I see my being laid off as somewhat good in that when I was at work I could not concentrate on my work because I was worried about my son. Now, I am home, able to help him as he goes through chemotherapy. By the time he’s off chemo I should be called back to work. In the meantime, I seem to be making it financially on just my unemployment check. Perhaps you and your husband can pray the rosary together for Mary’s intentions. Give your problems to her. St Augustan said something to the effect of praying as of everything depended on God, but work as though everything depends on you (I think).
I do not have any good advice about work and finances since I am in trouble in those areas as well. I do have advice about depression if you and your DH is willing. Find a nice peaceful and joyous church to visit 15-20 minutes a day or more to do counseling with Christ in the tabernacle. He is better than any counselor because He knows all and can see all our feelings that we do not know ourselves. Plus I bet Christ will love to do couples counseling too if you can go as a team. I know prayers in front of the tabernacle, with a sincere heart, really has uplifted my life. Hopefully this will work for you and your family. I especially found the Act of Hope, Charity, Love, and the Prayer for our Needs to be very calming. Oh yeah, there are prayers to the Holy Family too if you can pray together the two of you or all three of you in the family. Daily or near daily visits with faith will really heal the heart and strengthen your bond.
I pray your situation will turn around and Christ will be even more the enter of your being.
sorry to hear about your situation, but there is TONS that you can do! Have Hope!
#1 - Novena to St.Joseph for employment - look it up and have your husband do it. You too.
#2 - Your Daughter - get a notepad or calendar, and EVERYDAY write down something for that day that you did to ‘help make things better’ for your daughter and family. DO NOT let a single day go by that you didn’t do something. Your daughter deserves a happy family- happy parents- and God wants you to be happy! He will provide EVERYTHING that you need every day to be a happy family. It may be hard, it may be difficult, but God will provide. DO NOT LET YOUR DAUGHTER DOWN!
I once felt sorry for myself when I could not find work doing what I knew how to do. I thought I was worthless. St. Joseph helped me learn to be open to ANY work that came my way, and it changed my life around. Seeing my 5 daughters love the Lord, be excited about their futures, and laugh every day is proof enough for me that God wants the best for us. Have your husband give me a call if he needs a big brother to talk to!
We’ve been there in our marriage. It gets better. Be very patient with your husband - he feels hopeless and like his manhood is threatened. Be his best encouragement and support. Don’t nag him about getting a better job right now (if I were you anyway). But do approach him about his drinking - that can be very damaging for him.
Most of all, pray, pray, pray. I prayed a Rosary a day and it really worked!
Would it be possible for your husband to return to school to learn a more employable skill? My DH was out of work for about 6 months. He then decided to return to school and was given funding through a government economy stimulus program. I have noticed a huge lift in my DH’s happiness since he started school. He is working towards a goal, getting good grades and is proud of himself again. Even if funding had not been available I think we would’ve gone this route despite the student loans. One can live quite well off of the living allowance from student loans and it is worth it if there is definitely a job at the end.
I don’t know if it’s an option for you folks or not. Either way I will pray for you and your DH.
I second this opinion. I am a man, and I was destroyed by depression before the economic downturn – in fact, I knew it was coming and my wife’s self centered activity has marooned us in exactly the situation I had predicted.
I would expect, from your description, that your husband feels a failure because he has to live at the in laws house – when he was raised that the Father is the PROVIDER. (The emotion still sticks even when both work.)
The alcohol is dangerous, and will grow worse if unchecked. But negativity to someone already depressed does nothing but worsen it. If you are fighting, or trading sharp words, stop. Please, Please, stop.
You are far better off walking up to him (even if you are exhausted and want to scream) esp. when he starts to pour a drink – and run your hand gently down his arm, on the back of his neck, or perhaps even on the cheek if you can get him to look you in the eye. Tell him, “we’re safe”, we have the rest of our lives to get over this – nothing bad is going to happen to us; we are safe here and now.
Offer to trade him a back-rub for half the drink he is taking, eg: as in decrease the amount. Also, perhaps ask him to massage your hands – and even if he doesn’t do a good job, say it helped; because it will over time. Refuse to talk about the negative things, or failures, just remind him – it is OK now, let Go and be my friend today, I need you not your money… etc.
The prayers are very valuable, as are long walks. I know the extra burden may seem unfair, but if you can reverse the depression with gentleness you will win more back than you will loose in suffering. Suffering is inevitable for you right now, the question is will you choose the short sighted or long haul perspective.
Your in my prayers tonight; I have been in your position in the past, and am in a worse position now which could have been avoided. I can’t help being angry with my spouse, but I think God gave her this situation to make a better person out of her. Perhaps God is making up for what I don’t have in abilities myself. I simply do my best to let her grow or bang her head against the wall; but I will always offer the help to improve, not the cut downs. It is the only way.
I would recommend asking around to find free counseling, either marriage or individual. I’d focus on marriage counseling, since you will have more control over making it happen (e.g., you can go even if your DH refuses to attend). I found my DH was more willing to go to marriage counseling than individual counseling when he was depressed, and both were free for us through health insurance. Once we started marriage counseling, he was more willing to try individual counseling.
Does your DH have health insurance? Does it cover mental health treatment? Do you have health insurance that covers marraige counseling? Definitely look into your options.
Does your DH know and accept that he is depressed? Is his depression being treated? Things got much easier when my DH accepted the idea that he might be dealing with depression, and that maybe he had a medical condition that could explain his difficulties - maybe he wasn’t a failure, but instead was struggling with a real illness that really was making things more difficult for him.
When my DH was depressed, I found it was important to let him know how important his health and happiness were to the entire family. I encouraged him to make his health and happiness a priority not for his own sake (because he didn’t believe he was worth it) but because his daughters and I were happier and healthier when he cared for himself. I found that putting zero pressure on him actually worsened his depression - he started to feel like he wasn’t needed, wasn’t important, wasn’t useful. There was a “sweet spot” where he was getting enough pressure to feel like what he did mattered, but not so much pressure that he felt overwhelmed and incapable of rising to the occasion.
I am sure that not all men would appreciate this, but my husband really appreciated a daily to-do request list when he was depressed. He didn’t feel it was nagging, but rather felt like it helped him stay focused and gave him goals that he could handle. Picking out his own goals was really overwhelming for him, so I would give him a list of things to do each day, check in on him throughout the day to see how he was doing and encourage him to try something, and then go over the list to see how he did each night and would note progress for him and would tell him precisely how each thing he did helped the family. You might want to ask your husband if he feels that a daily to-do list could be helpful and supportive, or meddlesome and patronizing. I was really surprised to find that my DH interpreted a to-do list from me as supportive and a subtle message that what he did mattered, and not as nagging.
Make SURE you are taking care of yourself! Spouses of depressed people are especially vulnerable to depression themselves. If you need a little time to yourself, it’s okay to take it. You will be able to support him better and help him become himself again if you take care of yourself first.
This is a great site I found about dealing with depression: Overcome Depression It includes information for how family and friends can help depressed loved ones.
I also love the advice to pray. If you can get him to pray with you, it may be a world of good. I know that when I’ve been depressed (yup, I’ve been there too - it’s not just my DH), initiating prayer was very, very difficult. I really would have loved it if someone could have prayed next to me to help me keep that connection to God going strong.
Thanks for the wonderful responses! I do pray a Rosary a day for God’s Will to be done, and another one for us to accept God’s Will. Even if it’s so hard right now. My husband and I were married in the Church and as was required, participated in the Pre Cana process. This included extensive counseling and several group sessions with the other couples who were getting married around the same time as us. We were also given a sponsor couple to go to if we needed any guidance or had any questions. We went to them for a few things in the beginning, but maybe it’s time to call them again.
The other thing I would ask is would it not be more beneficial to talk to a priest of our parish rather than some counselor who does not know us and our situation? Either way, I’m not sure my husband would go.
I pray on a daily basis, although I know I should try to get my husband to pray with me. He does go to Mass with me, but he does not discuss his beliefs or spirituality with me at all. I make assumptions about what I think he feels or believes, and I ask him on occasion, but he just shrugs and changes the subject. I don’t know if my prayers alone are enough, but right now it’s all I can do. I am a work in progress on praying daily and spirituality. To be honest, it feels odd and akward to me since I was brought up by an avowed cynic. This is who we are living with now.
Our living situation is tough to say the least, but we need to look at it from an attitude of gratitude. We have a safe, comfortable place to stay as long as we need to. That’s a blessing. So many people don’t have that.
I know that I for one look to our daughter for the reason to keep trying. We’ve even discussed moving to another county or state to find work, which would be very painful for me since I’ve never lived more than a mile away from my parents. Is that pathetic or what?!
Thank you so much for your prayers, support, and advice. Has anybody seen the movie Fireproof or done the Love Dare? I would like your feedback on that if you have any. I have a copy of the Five Love Languages that I will start when I’m done with the book I’m currently reading.
You have the sacramental grace, then, to strengthen the marriage – it will not only be your prayers.
I can identify with your husband not wanting to go to “counseling”, for me it was the recognition that no matter what anyone else said – unless “we” did as we talked, there could be no change. Perhaps he has other feelings which drive him, eg: “I am a self made man, and don’t need support” or the antithesis “going to counseling means admitting I’m ‘sick’ or a ‘failure’” etc.
I was dragged to several counselors by my wife before seeing a highly recommended psychiatrist – yeah, my wife and I though each other were nuts; and she decided to prove she was right, and I wanted relief from her antagonism. So, it worked out – but my initial fears that unless one does what one says, there can be no change was true.
Here’s one experience: My wife and I had access to counselors both “Catholic” (in name, anyway) and secular; We had several priests whom we talked with. None of them could give any help, in fact all they could really do was attempt to make things worse in hopes that something would give: eg: the King Solomon approach – but without the kingly powers. Thus they failed.
My wife’s father and mother are quite close to “cynical”.
My wife did not fear moving before our difficulties, but once she brought the extended family in – eg: to leverage, or “triangulate” inclusive of manipulating the opinion of Priests – she suddenly became “afraid”. She probably convinced herself she was… although we had been planning to move for over a year before I went back to college, and my wife even went to places to visit the parish and get a feel for what she would like…and came back excited about some of them.
I think your first statement is wise – I would start with the sponsoring couple – the other options are generally not very good, and at least your husband knows the couple – I know I would have been more open to that – if my wife and I had that option. We did not. We were counseled by our priest, personally, and he excused us from pre-cana for he knew my family for years – and he knew my wife as a member of his Choir for years.
Secondly, if you & DH know other couples – see if any of them have attended Retrovaille; if they have – see if the husband will talk with yours about what it is.
eg: not counseling, but exercises between you two – perhaps similar to pre-cana classes. ( Don’t know for sure ). But there is no dictation, nor conversations where the counselor is trading the razors edge – unable to explain themselves fully, and the couple being left wondering what the !? There will be couples at Retrovaille – they will tell you what happened with them and how they have progressed beyond misery into growing as spouses.
but he does not discuss his beliefs or spirituality with me at all. I make assumptions about what I think he feels or believes, and I ask him on occasion, but he just shrugs and changes the subject.
Get the book “for women only” by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn in addition to the five love languages you have. Those assumptions can be killers… The book is not by a Catholic, but there is nothing offensive in it – and it is excellently done.
I would also probe, do you really listen to your husband – eg: actively explain back to him what you think he said?
We have a safe, comfortable place to stay as long as we need to. That’s a blessing. So many people don’t have that.
When I lived some years back with my in-laws, I saw it the same as you. It is a blessing, although it could have gone sour – I didn’t cross my wife’s vindictive threshold because I did not go back to college at the time. Your husband is in a precarious position should your parents polarize.
We’ve even discussed moving to another county or state to find work, which would be very painful for me since I’ve never lived more than a mile away from my parents. Is that pathetic or what?!
Not to be harsh, but yes – that is pathetic. Your husband needs to be backed up and loved by you more than you love your parents. If you show you love your parents more than your husband and your daughter – there is little hope.
Are you wanting your daughter to be raised in close contact with a non-diluted “cynic” eg: that which you seem to bring up as a negative point? I am sure if things go sour out of state, your parents will still be where you can come back to – or are you suggesting your parents are so cruel they will not help you come home if trouble erupts / or your husband is negligent?
As Jesus says to all of us,
Matth 10:37 He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me and he that loves son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.
But notice, Jesus does not mention husband or wife – for one can’t hate their own body. For Jesus is the husband of the Church, his bride; it would be twisted against the permanence of heaven to say husband must hate wife; IF SHE IS his own flesh.
Insofar as your husband is conformed to Christ, and both the life and Catholic up-bringing of your children are at all threatened by a cynical culture – loving him less than your parents is loving Jesus, less. A husband leaves father and mother and “cleaves” to his wife. But he can’t cleave with someone who isn’t free.
Of course, you’re right. I am more antagonistic to my husband than I should be. I also have a very unusual relationship with my mother. We are both mentally ill (severe anxiety issues), and due to that the normal mother/daughter boundaries were skewed. I was kept close to the apron even into my college years, and taught that was the way it was supposed to be. In being ill myself, I really didn’t know the difference. So when I got married, instead of discussing things with my husband first, I always went to my mother. I have gotten better through marriage retreats and friends telling me how it is. I have had years of counseling and discussions with our mentors and other friends who have taught me what a mother’s true role is so that I do not smother my daughter as I was smothered.
As far as listening to my husband, I probably wait to speak instead of listen. I’m usually formulating my response to whatever I think he’ll say next, (or anybody for that matter), and probably don’t hear him as well as I should. I have been and still am a very self centered person. I am working on that, but I’m not there yet.
I will reflect on what you’ve said, and truly take it to heart. I will also read For Women Only.
Please pray for me that Our Lord opens my heart and mind to be a bettter wife and mother.
Tell him how much you love him, than tell him you will not stand by and watch him destroy himself, ruin his marriage, lose his relationship with his child. Tell him to stand up, together you will kill the dragons, and than together you will enjoy the gift of life, in good times and bad. Take care, god bless.
This is my wife and I’s favorite movie. We have watched it a lot and think that it is a great movie. Mind you, the acting will not win any oscars, but that is not what we enjoy about it, it is about the message. I really like the song in the movie that starts with the line
“Love is not a place, to come and go as you please, it’s a house you enter into, then commmit to never leave. So lock the door behind you and throw away the key, we’ll work it out together, let it bring us to our knees.”
As for the Love Dare I have read a lot of good things about it.
I hope and pray that things improve for you, sounds as if you are taking the necessary steps to move forward.
My heart goes out to you and your family. You will be in my prayers.
I have seen Fireproof. The movie has a great lesson, although I am not sure from what I have heard if it would really help your situation. But the Five Love Languages I think is really important. My wife has read the book, I have not. It is very important for each of you to know the others love language. I would recommend that you read it and casually tell you husband about it. Tell him you love language. Ask him if he knows his. That will help both of you know what you need from each other.
As far as the job situation, I would keep a few things in mind. As much as a woman might think she understands, most women do not understand how a man feels when he cannot provide for his family. To have to move back in with parents is probably one of the things that could hurt him the worst in his whole life. Because I am a man, I can probably understand that a little better than you. At the same time, I’m not exactly sure what would be the female equivalent of this because I am not a woman.
I have not read this book, What Color is Your Parachute, but I have heard it is good. jobhuntersbible.com/articles/wciyp.php
As you husband is struggling continue to pray for him, and give him a little time and space to figure out what he wants to do, job wise.
As far as alcohol, you cannot let him slip into what some in his family have done. He needs to break that cycle, and he will need your love and support to do that. Tell him how much you love him and your concern.
The job market is tough right now for anybody out of work. Encourge him not to be discouraged as there are so many other people in the same boat. Don’t tell him some have it worse, that may be true but does not make a man feel any better.
I do not think you should do too much work for him, because he needs to be involved, but look around a little bit and help him look for jobs. Also even if he finds a job that maybe is not a pay raise but he finds more joy in, that may be a good next step.
Anyways, you are you family will be in my prayers. I hope this helps.