Can depression be causing this divorce?
My wife (39) and I (45) have been married for 8 years with two kids (6 and 4). The second child really through my wife for a loop. She had postpartum depression and had a very stressful time at work. She saw a counselor from work for ‘coping strategies’ (I went with her a few times) but denied being depressed. Besides the stress from work, she blamed me for her unhappiness, usually around not being supportive enough with the child. If I dared to suggest that she’s depressed, she would lash out and get angry. I think for reasons I don’t understand, she can’t/wouldn’t admit to herself that she was depressed and that our problems were ‘her fault’.
I would never use that language and assign blame for depression, but I know her well enough to know that her with her ego/psyche, she would prefer to blame me rather than say that it’s her mental state that is making her unhappy. Whenever I would suggest she was depressed, she would get furious and say that was my way of avoiding responsibility for the fact that our marriage was failing.
It’s been rocky ever sense. She frequently says she’s miserable due to me and being ‘stuck’ in our marriage. She says I want her to be miserable, which is so far from the truth. She threatened divorce frequently, which I was completely against and terrified of. It really put her in the driver seat as she knew I didn’t want a divorce (because of the kids and because I still wanted to be with her.)
About a year ago I found a bottle of prescription anti-depressants in her name. I was scared to ask her about it. I know from her best friend (who has talked to me in an effort to help us) that she stopped taking them because she was afraid it would affect her security clearance (it wouldn’t, necessarily.)
She had some minor medical issues and the doctor sent her to get thyroid/hormone levels checked. She even said to me that she hoped her levels came back abnormal to explain why she was in a bad mood and had little energy. They were normal, however.
We did counseling last year, in which she freely admitted she had had PPD (which she wouldn’t do at the time.) (Edit – she said she had PPD following the pregnancy but not at the time of the counseling.) I planned to bring up the anti-depressants and my belief that she’s depressed. Most of the counseling was her complaining about me not doing enough, not packing the school lunches exactly how she wanted them, not being proactive for things around the house, and the counselor telling my wife to be a little more understanding and not ‘over momming’ but not getting into what I thought we needed (communication and addressing her moodiness.) Counselor told us to sleep train the kids and get them out of our bed, but she tried for one night and gave up. She doesn’t have the patience or temperment or energy to do that.
I had to travel for work, so we put the counseling on hold. We both agreed we didn’t like that counselor much and said we’d find a different one.
She says I won’t or can’t change, and I’m afraid I can’t do more. we both work full-time. I put the kids to bed and sleep in a pull out bed in their room so she can get uninterrupted sleep (youngest doesn’t sleep through the night.) I get the kids up and dressed and fed at take them to preschool while she goes to work early. She or I pick the kids up and responsibility is shared until I start bathing them and getting ready to put them to bed.
I barely drink, don’t go out with the guys, don’t have a poker night, etc, and I go with her to her mothers on the weekend. I do more with the kids than she does, but she says I should since I have to make up for the time she took care of them when I was off on a work assignment. I’ve had one morning in the last year to myself to go hiking, and she started blowing up my phone asking why I was taking so long. If I’m not with the kids, I’m supposed to be doing something at the house. I haven’t watched a football game in ages, for example.
Even when things are calm, she withholds affection (rarely says she loves me, and only after I tell her first), as she has let it slip that she thinks if she does I’ll get ‘too comfortable’.
I could be more romantic and thoughtful, but in many ways I’m a good husband and I know I’m a good father. There’s no trauma, no infidelity, no serious money issues. I’m not perfect by any means, but I try.
With the quarantine and being house-bound with the kids while trying to telework, the stress levels have gone through the roof. She wants me to move out. I thought I wanted us to try a new therapist when the quarantine is lifted. Now I’m not so sure.
If we were to do counseling again, I’d take a different tack and just lay it out. I don’t think I can meet her expectations. I don’t think anyone can. She’s always had a thing about admitting blame and has a thing about refusing to apologize (a red-flag that I ignored). I think her misery (and I know she is deeply unhappy) isn’t solely my fault.
I’ve always thought I was fundamentally against divorce, especially with kids in the picture, but I’m ready to throw in the towel and stop pushing for counseling and to keep it going. I would have a lot of guilt about ‘giving up’ due to the kids. If the kids weren’t in the picture, I would have left years ago.
So…depression? Is there anything I can do?
(EDIT – We get along great during the rare times we are alone when the kids at grandparents. We’ve done a few weekend trips and always have a great time. The grandparents are older and kids are more difficult at this age, so those weekend trips are done for a while and not enough to keep us going, anyway. But its a sign of what things could have been.)