If you are having marriage problems and you have observed some of the symptoms of depression in your spouse for the past few weeks then YOU should be prepared to take the initiative to get her to get help to help her and to save your marriage. Your depressed spouse most probably is not capable to help himself. You have to understand, though, that this is not an easy task. You will very likely meet up with lots of resistance from them.
Dr. J. Prochaska and colleagues identified 6 different stages that a person goes through when they change. Identifying the stage that your loved one is in cab be tremendously beneficial. Matching what you say to each stage will enable you to prod him along to get the help he so desperately needs in a very not pushy way.
In this article I will explain the first stage of change, pre-contemplation, its signs, and the proper way to deal with it so will be able to change your bad marriage into a happy one.
The pre-contemplation stage is, as the word suggests, the stage that the sufferer doesn't admit (both to himself and to you) that there is a problem.
This might be very hard for you to grasp. How can it be that he doesn't see how sad he is and how he has changed in the past few months? Is he blind? The answer is that to avoid pain the past, the present, and the pain of having to change our mind plays "tricks" on us and blinds us to what is actually happening and blinds to things that are obvious to every objective observer.
Here is a short list of the common mechanisms people use to avoid "looking at the problem in the eyes":
Denial- This means that a person doesn't see that he has a problem. He really thinks that he is happy, energetic, and upbeat like he always was.
Projection and Blame. This mean that when you approach her and tell her that your once good marriage is now a bad marriage and that she caused it to happen because she is so depressed they respond, "I'm depressed? Go look in the mirror and then tell me that I'm down and you're not!" They project (like a film projector) their state on to someone else.
Justification. This defense system is that they agree with the fact that they are unhappy, morose, and sad, but they give a reason for it other than the fact that they are suffering from some tort of a medical depression.
Minimizing. This means that the one who is suffering from a depressive disorder admits that he is depressed but only "a little". A typical example of this is, "I wouldn't say that I'm depressed. Just a little down lately.
If you notices the symptoms of depression in your spouse, you mentioned to him what you feel, and he reacts with one of the above statements, then you know that he is the first stage of depression. As long as he denies that he has no problem THERE IS NO USE to try to convince him to get help. I repeat, "THERE IS NO USE to try to convince him to get help." He doesn't see the problem, so your mentioning the problem will either just annoy him or you will get into a fight with him.
What should you do, though?
1. Validate their unwillingness to go for help. Tell them, "I understand that you feel I'm exaggerating. I'm just worried." They need all the support that they can get in order to build up the strength to change.
2. Encourage self-exploration NOT action. This is the most important thing to remember. The stage after pre-contemplation is contemplation not action. Don't skip any stages of change. Right now, they are not able to even hear that they have to change doing something. Push him ONLY to into the subject but reassure him that you won't push him to change unless he wants to.
If you are having marriage problems and you (and other people around you) are convinced that your spouse is experiencing a depressive disorder don't presume or even hope that he will immediately agree to go for help. Just be supportive of him and encourage him to realize that there is a problem. This is the first step to fix your marriage problems.
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