Depressed spouse

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-25-2003
Depressed spouse
Wed, 09-04-2013 - 12:01pm


I'm in the middle of a somewhat delicate situation, and I'm not sure how I should handle it. My husband has been depressed for two years now, because he has been working himself much too hard for too long. He is now on medication, which helped him to slowly get better (although he's not cured, or anything) but this summer things got hectic for him at work again, and he's now on extended sick leave. 

My mother in law refuses to acknowledge how serious the situation is. She just won't see it, even though we have both spelled it out for her over and over. Her abilities for empathy aren't all that great, it seems. She also really enjoys getting attention and help from my husband, and every time we're over there, she practically runs him into the ground with all the things she needs help with. These "problems" are usually complete no-brainers. She has absolutely no qualms about calling him several times a day, asking him favors such as controlling her computer via skype to help her print an email, or to call him from vacations to have him figure out the opening hours of some store over there. 

There have been several instances where I've been planning a really nice, realxing day for him, because he's finally had a day when he didn't have any work to do. So I tidy up and cook a big breakfast, and he's actually looking as if he's having a good day. Then she starts calling to ask him to fix her problems, and before I know it, he's white as a sheet and having an anxiety attack. 

I'm worried that her incessant need for help is part of what's keeping him sick, but I don't know what to do about it. I know enough about her to really doubt that bringing it up with her is going to do any good at all. She just refuses to understand it, and - although she seems to really like me - I fear that I will be considered the unreasonable one, should I say anything to her. I also don't want him to think that there's conflict between me and his mother, because I'm sure that would just cause him further stress. However, he doesn't seem to really be avare that her behavior is just plain...bizarre.

So what on earth do I do? 

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-16-2002
Wed, 09-04-2013 - 2:34pm

Unfortunately, medication alone won't help your husband's sitation.  I would recommend he attend therapy to learn how to create boundaries for himself with his mother or anyone else (work) putting him in a state of anxiety.  He needs to get to the root of why he feels the need to run himself into the ground for others.  Your MIL probably won't ever understand, and it's time for your husband to stand up for himself regarding her demands.  Until he can do that, he will remain in the state he's in.  You could even go to therapy together so he understands how ths is affecting you.  No one wants to stand by while their spouse is suffering.  You could also ask your husband what you can do to help him (or his mom)?  Can you take over doing some things (not necessarily to do with his mother, but other demanding tasks)?  

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

.  -Albert Einstein

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-25-2003
Wed, 09-04-2013 - 3:32pm

I figure that, too. The problem is that he doesn't really get that she's actually being really selfish and inconsiderate, and I am not sure how to make him see that without also making him feel that I'm attacking his mother, which would probably just cause him more stress.

I usually do most things around the house, so that he can unwind when he's home. I'm jobless at the moment, so that's easy for me to do. I've tried to offer to help her with stuff, but she really only wants his help. She has also told her boyfriend that if he needs help with anything, then he is free to ask my husband. And that man is a bit of an idiot, so he takes full advantage of that "offer" too. She has also told her girlfriends to go ahead and ask my husband for help. Now that he's on extended sick leave, I'm really hoping that he will get some much needed rest, but I'm worried that she will just think it means that he has more time to help with Stuff. All of a sudden, she is really eager to help us around the house, with some painting that needs doing and things like that. He thinks we should let her, because she really wants to help. I have no doubt that she really does want to be nice and helpful, but I'm also pretty sure that she will feel entitled to favors in return, afterwards.

Avatar for sunset5000
Community Leader
Registered: 10-10-2007
Sun, 09-08-2013 - 4:03pm

Wow!!  "in my opinion"  it sounds like your mother in law knows exactly what she is doing!!  

First, welcome to our board and thank you for coming here and sharing!!  Second, you sound like such a wonderful wife, to be so supportive and understanding of your husband's depression, how wonderful of a wife he must have!!  He is a lucky man Smile  

I agree with what the other poster wrote about seeking professional help, such as a counselor or therapist.  Is that an option?  I suggest that because as you mentioned, if you yourself go directly and discuss this with his mother, it could turn bad and he could in turn be upset with you.  And, if he does not seem to see the situation as you described, maybe a third person (counselor) can explain what may be occuring, because it does not sound healthy for your husband or for you either.  Does that help or make sense?

I hope I did not say anything out of line or offensive.  It sounds like your MIL is taking advantage of your husband and it sounds very serious, that I am thinking a third person sitting down and talking with you and your husband may be beneficial.  Just my thoughts....

Avatar for sossa1989
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-21-2012
Fri, 09-27-2013 - 3:44pm


I have no idea how to help with your MIL !! she is something !! but may i suggest trying somthing you can take charge of. what i mean is knowledge is really key when it comes to deppression and these stuff, so let him educate himself and understand himself better to be able to control his stress levels and feelings.

Medication does help but i think its more about your own power and control over your feelings, pushing yourself to positive thinking, finding inner peace ( could be though yoga, meditation, a trip to some island, aromamassages), cuz you are always gonna find yourself in bad situations, so instead of trying to control these situations, its better to learn how to control your reactions to them. A councler could help with this, but i got most of best help through books and research and stuff.

Best of luck, he is so lucky to have you.