Monday, March 25, 2013

Marriage Monday: Loving Your Husband Through Depression {Link up}


Marriage Mondays


Welcome back to Marriage Monday! I am in the midst of a series on Loving our Husbands. Last week, I talked about Loving our Husbands by Encouraging Them. If you missed that post, you might want to click on the link and read about 10 ways you can encourage your husband.

These tips are helpful if your husband is simply discouraged or mildly depressed. But what do you do if your husband is deeply depressed? How can you love your husband during a time of depression?  The following thoughts are from a woman that I love and admire and who had to walk down this difficult path for a time --  my Pastor's wife, Susan




As a woman, I depend on my husband for so much. I need his love and support, his listening ear and his strong arms. He is called upon to fix the leaky faucet, change the oil in the car and to destroy any creepy-crawler that might invade the privacy of our home or yard. He is my provider, protector, and my partner for life. I think you would agree with me that every woman is proud to have a strong, stable and dependable man at her side, one that she can admire and respect. As wives, we breathe easier knowing that we can securely rest in our husband’s ability to handle whatever life brings our way. He’s the man and he’s got this!


But what happens if you wake up one day to find that your husband has no joy, no smile, and no strength? Your better half is hard to find because he has drifted into a world of deep sadness, anxiety and hopelessness. In these current days of financial insecurity, a troublesome job market and the overwhelming pressures of daily life, more and more of our husbands are finding themselves in this dark place know as depression. What’s a godly wife to do when faced with a spouse’s depression? How should she respond? 

After years of ministering and serving the Lord, deep trials and affliction caused my cheerful, happy-go-lucky and funny husband to lose his spark and become filled with so much sadness and despondency that he struggled getting out of bed and facing the day. Darkness and despair became his daily companion. What I share with you I learned from our walk together through times of depression.

Although you may want to run and hide and give into the fear and frustration you are feeling, DON’T. Now is the time to be the virtuous woman God has called you to be. The actual word for virtuous is valor and now more than ever you will need to be a woman of great valor and courage. 

Here are 7 Suggestions for Loving Your Husband through  Time of Depression:

1. See it as an opportunity to live out your marriage vows. 
Remember those words, “For better or worse, ...in sickness and in health….to love and to cherish”? Now you will be able to prove to your husband that you really meant it. You must make a concentrated effort to focus on his emotional, mental and spiritual healing. You will be partnering with the Lord to bring healing into your husband’s life. “Love never fails.” I Cor. 13:8

2. Seek out opportunities to courageously love your husband
Depression can cause your husband to act in unappealing ways. When he is harsh, angry, and despondent, be gentle with your words and kind with your actions. Let love be behind your every motive. The love of Christ and His example must be your guiding force as you respond to your husband’s depression. “Love suffers long and is kind.“ I Cor. 13:4

3. Speak blessing over him, when he can hear you and when he can’t.
When he is hopeless, speak of the hope we have in the Lord. When he is anxious, speak of the peace Jesus gives. When he is feeling worthless, speak of his worth in Christ and to you. In his presence tell him how thankful you are for him, affirm him, praise him. When speaking of him to others be respectful and uplifting. It is important to remember you must do this even if you do not feel like it. “She opens her mouth with wisdom and in her tongue is the law of kindness.” Proverbs 31:26

4. Submerge yourself in prayer for your husband. 
Pray for him silently as he sleeps. Pray for him openly in his presence. Ask him if you can pray over him during the day and then speak the words of blessing and healing that can only come from the hand of God. I learned this from my own husband’s example of praying over me in my own personal times of affliction. “Pray for one another that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16
 
5. Silently listen when he is ready to talk. 
Don’t nag. Don’t belittle. It is important for him to express how he feels which is not always easy for our men. He will need to know that his feelings are safe with you. “Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” James 1:19

6. Speak the truth in love. 
The time may come to confront his depression with a Christian counselor. If your husband knows he can trust your good heart he will be more likely to listen to your words of advice and know that you are seeking his well-being. Use the wisdom of Esther to know how and when to speak to your husband about the difficult place he is in and how it is affecting you and others. Pretending like it doesn’t exist will not bring healing and peace into your husband’s life.

7. Finally, while focusing on your husbands’ spiritual, emotional and mental well-being, don’t neglect your own
It is crucial at this time that you die to self and be a Spirit-filled wife. Now is the time to draw ever closer to the Lord God who can meet the needs your husband cannot. Isaiah 54: 5 says “ For your Maker is your husband; the Lord of hosts is His name.” Depend completely on Him who is able to work this dark and lonely time into a powerful, beautiful season of blessing and healing.

Depression need not be the end of stability and strength for your husband or your marriage. You as his wife, can work alongside our Almighty God to bring beauty for ashes and to turn mourning into dancing. Claim Jeremiah 33: 6 as your own, “Behold, I will bring it health and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth.” He is able, and He will do it!




Your Turn to Share:

Has your husband ever gone through a time of depression? Please share some of the ways that you helped him walk this dark valley. What sustained you the most during his depression? What seemed to encourage him the most? Please share so we might all be encouraged!


If you were blessed or encouraged by this post, please consider sharing it with your friends on Facebook or other social media sites.  Thank you!


Link up:

I'd love to have you link up your blog to mine!  Please link up any past or present posts related to Christian marriage.  Don't forget to link back to my blog!  Thanks!



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11 comments:

Amy M. said...

My husband suffered from depression a few years ago, feeling and acting exactly as this article describes.

Trying to cheerlead or pep him up makes matters worse. They feel no cheer or pep. What I could do was build on the moments that he did feel at least partly energized or interested in life activity. When we'd find a successful moment, I would use it as my own thanksgiving, and I would do it out loud in conversation. "I think that walk in the park yesterday was exactly what I needed. I felt good getting out and doing something, and talking with you made it even better. I like it when you share your heart with me."

Building on the good times in a quiet way seemed to help.

Elizabeth said...

Amy,
Thanks for sharing! That was a very wise and loving response! I appreciate your insight!

Blessings
Elizabeth

Jaimie said...

Praise God, my husband has not struggled with depression, but he does need a lot of encouraging sometimes. :) I do my best to listen when he needs to talk, and to build him up verbally!

Amy said...

Depression is such a different ball game when one of a married spouse has it. Not your average marriage or your average life.
Wish I was further along to say this & this works but really it can get down to keeping your head above waters.
In the end he belongs to The Lord, and The Lord is the one who changes the heart and speaks to the heart. Your not responsible for his choices and actions, just your own.
:)

Elizabeth said...

Thank you Amy for your candid response.

Brie said...

This really resonated with me. My husband struggles with depression, panic and anxiety attacks. For a long time he was medicated with it, but I think it was a type of indulgence on his part. Avoiding what was really the problem.

In our marriage we strive to uplift one another with loving words and deeds. We acknowledge and express gratitude for such things, and I think that makes a big difference. I also try to lead by example- if I would like something done a different way we talk about it and the difference we would make instead of *telling* him. He feels much better by being a part of the conversation and has a voice in the matter.

Granted we're kidless as of now, but this has worked so far! (Plus some good old fashioned physical activity- he has more energy to deal with things when he works out!)

God bless!

marty said...

"The heart of her husband does safely trust in her..." That's always been one of my favorite parts of Proverbs 31. Our husband should be able to safely trust in us especially when they are at a low point. Excellent practical advice on how we can do that!

Niki French said...

My hubby has suffered off and on through the years with feelings of depression. Sadly, it took me a while to learn to be the virtuous woman in this area. Praying for him and loving him physically is what helps him the most. When I sense his feelings of depression, I just rub his arm or back, hug him, etc. in a loving way and he sighs deeply with a contented look on his face.

momma-lana said...

We have been through this with our 21 year old daughter. I knew there was something more and the Lord showed me that she was severely magnesium deficient. It only took a few weeks on a high dose to turn her completely around. I feel like she may always need to monitor her magnesium level. It was such an easy fix and she is a totally different person now that we have her levels back up.

Lycia said...

Hi, thanks so much for writing this. I'm trying to love my husband who sometimes gets depressed, either because he has been hurt or because he hasn't seen answers to prayers or because he is frustrated and angry, but doesn't express it. Unfortunately, if I (or other people) do something he doesn't approve of, he gives me the "silent treatment" for days, or weeks, which hurts me a lot. That makes it so much harder to encourage him, or praise him, or even get close enough to offer to pray for him. I have used a written letter in the past to tell him how much I love him and remembering good times, and I think that helps. Also, patience and prayer in time bear fruit! I'm so grateful for Internet because I don't share this with anyone, so as not to hurt my husband even more, but reading "anonymous" (because we don't know each other personally) encouragements and advice from others who struggle like me really helps. God bless

busymomof10 said...

Lycia,

My husband used to get like that a lot too, so I understand where you are coming from. It seems that as he has grown in the Lord, he takes things more in stride and gets depressed less.

thanks for sharing your heart! Keep praying for him!

Elizabeth

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