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I am a Child of God, Wife, and Mother. This is my story.

Thursday 17 March 2016

In The Lion's Den (Dealing with Depression prt 1)

I just remember being so confused.

Why was it that I could be having a lovely day, then Husband would come home and ruin it? How did he manage to suck the fun and enjoyment out of everything?
How could I look forward all day to him walking through the front door, home from work, only to want to be pushing him back out only a few hours later?

At first, I really thought it was my fault.
Maybe when he'd only respond with grunts or one-syllable answers, it was because I was annoying him; maybe his snarky attitude and wanting to rain on my parade was because I was being too much in his face and he needed time.
After a few years of this, I just couldn't take it anymore.

He'd walk around like his dog died, he had no patience for anything and while he was never aggressive or outright mean, he had a very distinct way of putting up walls, shutting me out, not talking, not sharing not even making eye contact.
Living with him was miserable. He literally, actually made me miserable when he was like this.
It'd last a week or so, then it'd get a little better, only to start back on the same path again.

The stupid thing is, it wasn't me that figured out he was depressed. I think at some point I asked him: "Are you depressed?" Husband responded: "No", and I left it.
It was my mother that finally connected everything.
I had phoned her crying, I had never done that before but I was at the complete end of my rope. My husband was become a room-mate; a room-mate that I was wondering if I even wanted anymore!

My mother answered the phone happily enough, and asked the usual "How are you doing?"
Before I could really even respond I started to cry.

"I don't know what's wrong with him! Everything is awful to him, he's never happy, he never wants to do anything! I keep trying to make him happy, but all he's doing is making me miserable!"

After some gentle probing, my mother suggested that he was maybe struggling with depression, I began to make excuses but everything she was saying was starting to click.
She suffers from seasonal depression disorder and recognized the classic signs of depression right away; I have never suffered from it, so didn't even really think to consider depression.
We talked, I calmed down, and I vowed to do research.

I read everything I could about depression, including the different types of depression disorders.
If I was going to come to Husband with this theory I was going to be armed to the hilt.


He brushed me off.

He didn't think he had depression, he wasn't always miserable, we were just going through a tough time, all his behaviour had excusable reasons...to him.
No matter what I did, or threatened I couldn't make him go to the doctor or make an appointment, and really, it was up to him.
For the next 12 months, I kept my eyes on his moods, how he reacted, what he did and how he felt.
I started to journal and finally hands shaking I gave him this:

"What's this?" He asked sullenly. (He was in one of his what I call "down cycles" )

"Look at it." I shoved it more under his nose. "I have been tracking this for the past 4 months, and it is like clockwork. You cycle through the same depression every 2-3 weeks, and during that time you make my life a living hell."
Husband finally started to study what I had shoved at him:

"This is you. This is your cycle and you are here.
" I motioned to my third point.

I watched curiously as he read through my journal entry:

Cycle of Depression
1) Normal "low" (he was never really happy at this point)
2) Feeling "blue"/"down"
3) Becomes non-verbal/Un-communicative/Monosyllabic
4) Distances self/Apathetic/Refuses to acknowledge issues
5) Finds basic communication draining/Puts up walls/Ignores
6) Physically removes self/Avoids people, talking, anything social
7) Loses patience/Easily angered/Starts lashing out at people too close to his "space"
8) Slight upswing/Empathy kicks in/Remorse/Sadness/Desire to "do better"
Rinse and repeat every 2-3 weeks.

Husband put a hand to his face, and was silent a long time. I could tell he was mentally checking off every little detail I had so carefully written down.

"I do this." 

It wasn't a question, it was a statement.
Finally he saw it.

"I cannot live with you doing this to me and our child every month."  I had to be harsh, he had to understand that even though he though his depression wasn't hurting anyone but him, he was doing almost irreparable damage to our family.

"I understand that." He agreed sadly. 

"Which is why I'm making you an appointment with our doctor. You need to talk to someone, we need to figure this out. You aren't happy and neither am I." 

I lowered the boom, either he was going to accept my help or reject it, and I had no idea what my next step would be if I was brushed off again. 


I started to breathe again, this was hopefully going to be the step in the right direction we needed; just a little bit of light was starting to peek through the darkness that had surrounded us for so long.
Now we just needed to figure out what to do next.

Prt. 2 to come.

~ The Good Wife

We've Come A Long Way

We have come a long way.

Looking back, and rereading my old posts I so clearly remember the heartbreak and just how weary I always felt.
Every day was a struggle to find the joy and peace with being married.
Husband and I still have such a long way to go, but at least now we’re walking that path together instead of away from each other.
There are three things I attribute to our marriage being (thus far) successful.

 Finding counselling.
We both got to a point where we knew what our issues were, where each other stood, but had absolutely
no idea how to move forward. How to get past those issues or even begin to repair them. 
     That’s when we decided to look for couples counselling. Husband was not very keen, he was worried that he would be automatically painted as the ‘bad guy’ and wouldn’t get a chance to say his part.
But after much talking I got him to agree to ONE session.
Our counsellor was a middle aged Christian woman who had been a therapist for years and was associated with a Christian Counselling center. She was wonderful.
Completely no-nonsense, no fluff, no “just pray it away” go-to answers.
She DUG, by the end of a session you literally felt sore. It was like getting a cavity filled at the dentists; that pain of digging up all the most painful, more harmful stuff and laying it out in the light to be assessed and examined.
It was completely emotionally draining for both of us, and it was very clear right from day one that this was both our problems and no spouse would carry all the blame.
I was amazed how my introverted, barely speaking husband would totally open up to her about his emotions and feelings, how she could keep him going and ask those tough questions that he’d actually respond to!
He learned how to fight down his resentment, I learned how to fight fairly.   
2) Getting a Doctor involved.
Husband was never treated for depression, however based on what he’s told me, he should have been diagnosed in his early teens. Getting him to a doctor to talk about depression took me about 2 years. Finally he admitted defeat and like most of our negotiations I asked him to go to one appointment and just talk with our GP. 
      After he was put on some depression medication, the change was amazing! It’s still hard for him admitting he has depression, but he’s slowly shaking off that stigma that admitting a mood disorder is a weakness.

 So, so much prayer.
 I could not find the strength myself to be able to deal with the stress our marriage was under, and I should have quit several times over at what was our worst point. Prayer was my outlet, it was peace and calm. It gave me hope and purpose, and is absolutely one of the reasons why I was able to keep going.

      So where are we now?

We’re ok. We have good days and bad days, we still fight and argue, but are both better at forgiving and forgetting.
The thing with marriage is that its always changing, the relationship is fluid and you need to be able to flow with it.
After having our second child our entire dynamic changed again, and a lot of those nasty habits of taking each other for granted, being overly critical or resentful started creeping back in.
Thankfully now, we know the warning signs and were able to nip it in the bud before it could really take hold.
Some days marriage can be so easy, others – well I wonder why I married a quiet, serious, stubborn introvert, when I’m a loud, fun-loving, hot-mess of an extrovert.
We really do drive each other insane sometimes.
It’s all about compromise, negotiating and making sure to express gratitude.
That and every once in a while flushing the toilet while he’s in the shower when I’m annoyed. ;)


~ The Good Wife

Thursday 5 December 2013

When Did It Become Sweet?

"When I have learnt to Love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now."
~ C.S. Lewis

I don't quite know when it happened.
Somewhere between October and now, sweetness slowly started to filter back into our marriage.
I know it's only been two months, but when you've been waiting for something for years, two months can seem like a awful large blessing. 
A few days ago I found myself smiling; smiling for no apparent reason other than I was happy.
That heavy weight I had been carrying around, the weight of an unbalanced marriage, the weight of pain, rejection, hurt, bitterness, somewhere I had slowly gotten rid of it.
Like an onion being slowly peeled, those emotions were no longer as forefront as they once were, and seemingly, without notice, were slowly being discarded.
I stood there in the middle of my kitchen, smiling and realizing why I was feeling happy, but not knowing when all this had happened.

I thought, I tried to go over moments that perhaps had "changed" everything, but nothing really stuck out. Life had carried on as usual, there was work, bills, baby caring, dirty laundry, dinners, all the regular, ordinary things.

Then I noticed something, something was missing.
Where were the fights? The angry words and feelings? Where was the rejection? The depression?
I could remember spats of course, little moments of thoughtlessness, or overtired snappings, but they had all been resolved quickly and well. 
I suddenly felt the impact of what we had been 'missing' and was surprised that I hadn't realized it sooner.
Things had just been so...peaceful. 

But just as parts of what had become our daily life were now gone, there had been some additions as well. 
I thought of my quiet-time, how even though lately I hadn't been doing my big hour-long every morning study, I still picked up my red little New Testament and read a chapter or so before sleeping.
I thought about how my "quiet season" of holding my tongue turned surprisingly into habit, that now keeping the more critical things from leaving my mouth was easier, and seeing my kindness being returned to me through little touches, gestures, smiles and laughter.
I thought of now when I feel impatient or an unwarranted snap, that now I respond to Husbands hurt questions with: "You're right, I'm upset because ______. I shouldn't be snapping, I'm sorry." and how it seems to immediately stop an argument from forming. 

And I pray. 
For my marriage, my husband, our life, our child. 
I try to cover him in prayer everyday, from everything to safe travel to spiritual warfare. 
Even when he's stressed I've started to hold him and tell him to be quiet, because I need to pray for him.

These things, have somehow come together to put the sweetness back into our marriage, and to be honest, I'm nervous. 
I'm so scared that it'll leave again, but I remind myself that I control my own actions, and I have a wonderful God who is fighting for this marriage with me.

This marriage has felt like such a long walk along a dark path, finally I'm starting to see the sunrise and I will praise God for it and do everything I can to preserve it. 

~ The GoodWife

Saturday 19 October 2013

When I Have No Strength Left

I pulled myself up from the floor. I could feel the carpet lines molded to my knees, and the red spot on my forehead where I had rested it on my hands.
My eyes were misty and I felt numb as I forced my way back to reality.

It had been one of those days, where I was so sore and so broken that I just could no longer stand.

I fell to my knees, lowered my head gently to the ground and just cried before my Father's throne. 
I had no strength left; and so I crumpled before my Savior and once again asked for the strength to just keep going. 

I love my Husband so very much, and he is worthy of my love and respect but this..boulder of resentment that he keeps chained around his neck chokes every good thing from our marriage.
I see how painful it is for him to drag around, I watch him wrestle with the demon regularly and weep for his suffering.

I have to be both his cheerleader and the one whom he hurts most. I must bear the pain of his resentment, the complete lack of intimacy or desire from him, I have to hold him when he hurts, and ignore my own pain. I have to smile and help him to keep going, while I rage on the inside, and act loving when I want to hurt him, just as much as he has hurt me. 

The part that grieves me the most is the fact that I cannot understand.

God knows I have tried; I have tried for years to just understand, so then at least I could be of some use.
But how can I understand that he loves me, yet has no desire for intimacy with me? How can I understand that he wants our marriage to work and be together, yet he refuses the one thing I ask? How can I understand that he is terrified of me walking out on him, and yet my emotional needs are still not made a priority?

He is either lying, and Lord please, do not let that be so.
Or I am not capable of understanding what he is going through.  

The last few days have been so hard, and one large nasty fight got the better of both of us, and though we forgave each other, the pain always lingers for a couple of days.
When I am hurting, I withdraw and become quiet. An odd trait, and extremely obvious for me, as "quiet" is not my personality.
Husband noticed, asked me if I was "alright." To which I responded: "I'm fine." (not maliciously or with any other intent, just that I wasn't "good", but I wasn't "awful", so I settled on 'fine')

Finally, the baby was asleep and he had to leave to head off to work. I was working on my schedule for the next couple of days and he stood before me.
The first thing I noticed was his eyes. Even when we were dating, it was his eyes and his smile that I fell in love with first.
But these eyes; they were sad, but more that that, they were mourning.

"I'm sorry" he said.

"What about?" I asked setting my schedule aside.

"For how shitty everything is..." He responded quietly.

I fell back to my old response of: "This isn't your fault, I know you're not hurting me intentionally, you can't apologize for something you cannot control, etc."

But this time he stopped me.

"No, this is my problem. Everything in our marriage could be wonderful, but if we cannot remove this thorn, then that's all we'll feel.
I have reason to worry you're going to leave if I can't get over this and I can't expect you to be ok with this, forever.  I am trying, but I'm going to try harder, I just feel hopeless sometimes, but to feel like it's hopeless is to admit defeat." His voice was low and sad, this was obviously something he'd been thinking about for a while.

I stood before him and put my hand on his arm: "I love you....so there's hope. We're both still here, so there's hope. There's always hope." I told him this, just as much as I told myself. 

After that, he left.

I closed the door, walked to the family room and fell to my knees.

I had done it, I had been strong for him, I said what I could and tried to leave him feeling somewhat encouraged, but it had taken everything in me.

I was empty, and the only place I could find more strength, I had to come to on my knees.

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him and I was helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him."
~ Psalm 28:7
~ The Good Wife

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Dying to Self

Slowly it's getting easier.

I noticed it while I was fuming over washing dirty dishes, it was a Sunday and I had wanted to go to church, but was unable to because Husband had a previous commitment, even though I was annoyed I remembered my goals and came to an understanding that this was just life, and I would have to handle my disappointment.
Later I received a text telling me he was planning on going out afterwards, to his brother's church where he played on the worship team - this put me firmly into the "sunday all day/night alone with baby."

I was ticked - all I had wanted was a couple of hours in the morning to go to church, and now I was having to have another long, solo-parenting evening while Husband did what he wanted to.

I started to scrub the dishes harder.

Like there wasn't enough long days, and with the baby being, well...2, those days generally weren't filled with easy-goingness and happy times. It was work! Hard work! Not to mention keeping the house clean, getting laundry done, making special-diet meals and grocery shopping.

My pot was practically glowing by this point.

Finally I took a breath and I prayed: Lord, I am so frustrated and tired right now. Help me to check my attitude and focus on the good..

Slowly I started to feel that knot of annoyance loosen just a tad, suddenly I remembered all my prayers about Husbands spiritual life and praying that he would feel closer to God and have a better relationship with Him. How I had shed tears over his faith and being so worried that he was falling away.
I bowed my head and sighed.

Here I was, getting upset because he wants to go to Church. Shouldn't I be considering this as an answer to prayer, rather than an annoyance?

Finally my pride snapped, and I was able to let go of that anger that had started to boil inside.

Husband and I had, previous to this pot-washing incident, exchanged a quick phone conversation, and he knew by the tone of my voice that I was not in the best of moods, though when he asked, I denied it, of course.
Later that evening he came through the door, with his proverbial tail between his legs and clearly expected a row about the change in plans.
He casually asked how I was doing, (testing the waters, no doubt) and by that point I was actually able to be happy to see him and greet him with love and kindness.

Husband seems a little surprised, this was definitely not what he was expecting, and almost immediately he apologized for changing plans on the fly, and hoped that I wasn't upset.
Wow...this was a change!

A normal chain of events would have been:

  • Change of plans
  • I get mad
  • Give husband cold treatment/guilt to get him to apologize
  • Husband defends actions and digs in his heels
  • I get hurt because he wouldn't apologize or consider my feelings
  • Husband gets annoyed because I'm manipulating him
  • We fight until midnight, sleep separately and have a horrible night and next day.
But I was able to circumvent this by simply "letting go."
It's still a struggle and I think for a long time, it will be - putting my will aside for another's is extremely difficult and doesn't come easily to my nature, but I'm seeing real changes in how my marriage works when I started changing my own behavior for my own sake. 

Please don't misunderstand, this is something I am doing for me. I am changing myself not to become quote/unquote perfect wife, but rather wanting to be a Godly woman, and part of that is practicing humility and self-control, and through that I am seeing positive results in my marriage.

It is a daily 'dying to self' and ever so slowly, I feel that, through much prayer and help from the Holy Spirit, that I am able to accomplish this more easily.
I don't know if I'm seeing more sweetness and kindness in my Husband, or if I'm finally able to focus on what was already there.

"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. 
For whoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it."
~ Matthew 16: 24-25 

My marriage is that dirty pot.
It's a good pot, a sturdy one that has gone through lots of wear and tear and has some dents in it, I just need to scrub it, not only see it for the burn marks, and the gunk stuck on it. I need to wash it, and care for it, and it should last for many, many years.

~ The Good Wife

Thursday 19 September 2013

The Straight Path

"Do you have any free time this evening?" I asked Husband, a couple of days ago.

"Yeah, I think so.." He responded offhandedly. "Why?"

"Because I'd like to talk."

"...talk? Talk about what?"

I already could hear the hesitation in his voice, he had been married to me long enough that when I asked to "talk" he knew I wasn't wanting to discuss the weather.

"I'd rather not get into it right now, but maybe when the baby's asleep?" I asked, avoiding his question.

Husband agreed, but I could read all sorts of emotions on his face, and I couldn't blame him. He was trying to mentally prepare himself for this 'talk' and had no idea what he was going up against. Was it going to be a grievance? A confession? A problem?

Needless to say, as soon as the baby was in bed, Husband was by my side wanting to know (or get it over with) our talk.

There were three things I wanted to discuss:

  • His resentment
  • Our therapist
  • Our prayer life
We both knew at this point that resentment was the main underlying issue in our marriage, and when the therapist asked him how he was on a scale from 1-10 (ten being the highest) on how resentful he was 2 months ago, he said without thinking: "10".
Then she asked where he was now. This he had to think about for a bit before saying: "7-8".

That actually hurt me more - I was really hoping that it wasn't that high, but once I had found a chance to think about it, it was progress, so I should be realizing this as good news, instead of feeling discouraged that things weren't 'clipping' along at the pace I wanted. 

Having a spouse resent you is such a difficult emotion to process. I've found myself feeling very helpless to 'fix' anything. This is something he needs to work through and let go of himself.
I don't believe that I carry around much resentment for my Husband, and so I have a hard time understand his inability to just "let it go". A fact that I'm ashamed to say, has even caused me to speak those words in anger towards him. 
One of the things I am learning is that resentment, in our case, was built over time through actions and dirty fighting.

I am a dirty fighter, I fight to win and I have a very quick and sharp tongue. Husband is a slow processor, it's just his personality and he has always been this way; so when we get into an argument, before he's even had the chance to respond to my first attack, I've already cut him 5 more times, and he literally just shuts down because he cannot even begin to keep up, or be as nasty as I am.

Learning how to "fight fairly" and to settle a disagreement so "everybody wins" is like learning to speak a new language for me.
Things that I'm being taught have never even occurred to me, I'm finding it quite the learning curve, and just keep praying to remember what I have been taught the next time we get into an argument. 

Finally I gently brought up our prayer life.
Husband and I used to pray together when we were first married, then as things started to get worse in our marriage, when Husband was dealing with his depression, he sort of just fell away from God. 
It's not that he stopped believing or even attending church, he just found no comfort in God's Word and fell into this spiritual melancholy.
This is still an issue for him, so I was hesitant to bring up his spiritual life, very much not wanting to start another argument or have him feel that I'm harping on another issue. 

I very gently said that I'd like to start praying together, for our marriage.

That's it. 

He sat for a moment and thought (a habit I really need to learn from him) before telling me that he would be game for that, but he didn't want to pray aloud. He said he'd prefer it if I did. 
Immediately my back went up a little, I wanted him to pray, and I wanted him to pray with me, not just sit there while I prayed. 
Almost as quickly, I remembered my pledge to 'let go' and told him that I would be happy to pray for both of us, and as long as he was also praying, it didn't matter if he spoke or not. 

Now, I know this altercation doesn't look like much from the outside - but to me, this little conversation made my spirit glad. 
It was seeing my husband opening up to God again, it was me winning my inner battle for control, and together making a teeny, tiny step in the right direction. 
So yes, I rejoiced. 

We chatted about lighter things for a while, before I glanced up at the clock, it was 10pm and that was as late as I was going to talk. 
I get ridiculous the later at night it gets, I become weepy, overemotional and just get myself into the worst situations when I try to talk about deep, personal things with Husband late at night. 
So I was watching that clock, making sure that didn't happen again.  

"We should probably wrap this up for the night." I said, motioning at the clock.

"Yeah, alright....so do you want to pray?" 

I sat there for a couple seconds, surprised. I really didn't expect him to initiate time for prayer, in fact I wasn't even going to suggest it but Husband obviously felt like it was a good decision.
So we sat together, holding hands and I prayed for us as a couple, our marriage, as individuals and for our child. 
It was quick and it was sweet, and at the end of it I felt so much better and so much more hopeful. 

We are such a long. long way from a normal marriage, and our issues are big ones that we need to overcome.
But I'm starting to feel so hopeful again.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 
in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."
~ Proverbs 3:5-6 

~ The Good Wife

Saturday 14 September 2013

I'm Giving Up

I am.

I am giving up on fighting for the marriage I want. 
I have learned so much this week, the Lord has really been working on my heart and I've been having to do some serious digging that has left me bruised and sore.
One of the things I keep seeing is my absolute need for control.
I have a fantasy for what my marriage should look like - how I behave and how my husband reacts. I have clung to this vision for years and it has brought me nothing but sorrow and grief.

I have done more damage to my marriage through this single issue than all other problems combined.

I have a loving husband, who loves me, provides for my family and loves our daughter. He is kind and good, but he is not perfect, and I cannot seem to be able to handle that. 

This past week I have been pushing myself to work on my communication, to be quiet and listen - to filter my words and tone before speaking, and I have amazed myself at how little patience and grace I give my husband. 
Because I am censoring myself I have been able to take notice of every single time something nasty, negative or critical wants to fly out of my mouth. 
It happened multiple times a day, almost within every conversation I found myself biting my tongue, realizing that if I hadn't been purposefully stopping myself I would have been critical again. 
It has been eye-opening.

I have realized that my husband cannot live up to my standard, and that, in fact, no man can.

My standard for how I believe I should be loved at all times in impossible for any single man to do, and it is this standard that I keep trying to measure my husband up to, then become crushed when he does not fit my expectation. 

Only Christ can fill this expectation, only Christ can give me that peace and all-encompassing love that my soul desires, and I am killing my marriage by trying to turn my husband into Christ. 

So I am giving up.

My marriage will never be the fantasy I envision, my husband will never be the perfect man I expect, and I need to recognize the wonderful man that God has given me as my husband, and love him for the flawed person he is, as he loves me. 

Giving this up, absolutely, 100% terrifies me. Stepping away, giving my husband space, allowing him to actually be the person he is, and not control how he acts or behaves in this relationship scares me. 
That horrid little voice flares up filling my head with lies:
  • If you don't control his affection, he will never show it to you.
  • If you don't make him be the man you want, you'll never be happy.
  • If you don't nag, parent and manipulate you'll never get what you want.
  • If you let go, he will abandon you.
Those are my fears, seeing them in a neat list is a little bizarre when I think how each of these statements shake me to my core in fear.
And yet never has there been any proof to support any of these fears.

"I will love you so much, and cling to you, and suffocate you, and nag you and parent you, and make you do what I want, when I want, how I want, until death do us part."

And it's so wrong.

I need to let go, I need to find peace and love through Christ and stop forcing my fantasy on my husband.
I know what I need to do, now all I can do is pray to be brave enough to actually face my fears and conquer them. 

"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me.
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will save it."
~ Luke 9:23-24

~ The GoodWife