Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Hi, Carolyn: My husband has been possibly mildly depressed for a few years now, or maybe has anxiety. He seems to cycle maybe once every two months with periods worse than normal, which last for a week. He says he thinks really mean things about himself (that he’s not good enough) and can’t stop thinking about all the things he should have done differently in his life.
Well, we got on the topic of our marriage last night, and I would have said we were very happy. He said he thought were we so-so happy. I asked him if he regretted marrying me, and he said sometimes that’s one of his negative thoughts but he doesn’t think he really believes it.
He’s in one of those bad weeks right now. He agreed to talk to someone. But, what do I do? I’m pregnant with our first child. I feel like I was punched in the stomach. We are in our 30s, it’s our first kid and was planned, we’ve been married two years and together six, and neither of us wants a divorce. I also don’t want to be with someone who feels like they settled for me.
Pregnant and With Cracks in Marriage
I’m sorry, I know it’s a terrible time to be dealing with this.
Please find some reassurance in the fact that his doubts could so easily be his depression talking, because that’s often what depression sounds like: obsessive negative thoughts, inability to envision a future that isn’t also negative, regrets, self-doubt.
If it is indeed depression, then treatment followed by careful maintenance can keep it from taking over your marriage. There is a possible future where it’s all OK.
And if it isn’t depression and/or anxiety — if instead he just has non-medically dictated bad feelings about your marriage — then there’s still a possible future where it’s all OK. You can have a healthy child and a productive partnership as parents, just possibly not in the form you expected.
The key to either one is to have the problems out in the open and remain dedicated to working through them. That’s already there for you two: You’re aware of the problems, you’re talking, you’re getting help. Please trust that and stick with it.
Also consider seeking your own professional guidance. Mental-health conditions are not just a one-person struggle, and someone who understands them — who is trained and licensed to understand them — can be an excellent guide for you.
You will have questions, particularly on whether a behavior is a marital problem or a symptom, and knowing there’s a place to get those questions answered can reduce your stress appreciably.
So can meticulous self-care; a yoga, dance or fitness class designed for pregnant women can be a clutch source of physical and emotional support. Good luck.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.