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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How can I rebuild my relationship with my wife while she recovers from depression and anxiety?

    My wife has been diagnosed with depression and anxiety around 8 years ago and in 2013 she took a turn for the worse and was admitted to a mental clinic for two months. Both depressed and suicidal she came through the 2 months and returned home in July 2013 a very different person. I was told by the phsycologist that this may occur and my wife would be a lot different both physically and emotionally on her return home. the comment was “you wont believe the person she will be”.

    On her return things were amazing and our relationship was so fresh, positive and intimate. However what I also experienced further changes she made in herself and I have found that she is not the same with me, distant from me sometimes, not responsive to positive comments, only says she loves me when I say I love her and for the last month is not intimate with me at all.

    I am trying to understand where I fit now in our relationship and would appreciate any advice someone can give me based on experience had.
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  • Renee Mill

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Empowering people is my passion and life work. I have been working as a Clinical Psychologist in private practice for over thirty years. I have ... View Profile

    Your wife has been though some life changing events. She suffered from depression and not  wanting to live. She was hospitalised and presumably had various treatments. Medication can have side effects such as making her feel ill. Psychotherapy would have encouraged her to reflect on her life and her identity. 

    All of these changes would result in your wife questioning herself, her identity and maybe even her sanity. Therefore, the most important thing is for you not to take her withdrawal personally. Unless  she tells you explicitly that she does not love you, or want you, presume you are still her significant other. 

    What she needs from you is a big ask - to support her through her crisis without adding to her burden by making it about you or the relationship. It may take many months for things to feel secure again but it will be worth the wait. 

  • 1

    Thanks

    I am a Melbourne Relationship Counsellor and Family Lawyer who is skilful in helping people get out of the pain of relationship distress and create ... View Profile

    You say thay when she returned you enjoyed the new intimacy in your relationship. It could help to talk to her about how you are feeling. By taking a curious and open stance, seeking first to understand, you may find there are reasons for the latest changes which feel negative to you. Intimate relationships take courage and honesty if you want to keep the freshness and passion. Seeing a trained relationship counsellor could really assist you before things go on for too long. And the distance between you might then be understood. She will not be the same but neither will you. That's the beauty of committing to this intimate partnership, growth and change are inevitable. Turn towards her and try gently telling her how you feel and see if she might consider some couples counselling. All the best. 

  • Alysha Coleman

    Clinical Psychologist, Counsellor, Psychologist

    Alysha is the Primary Clinical Psychologist and Director of The Institute for Healthy Living, a clinical psychology practice in Bondi Junction. Alysha has worked with ... View Profile

    The previous answers have been very good in encouraging you to sensitively and lovingly support your wife as she continues to recover.

     

    However, don’t forget that she is not the only victim of her depression. Her journey towards recovery is obviously causing you some distress. When someone we love is suffering, we are often so quick to help them that we forget to support ourselves.

     

    Marge suggested seeing a relationship counsellor, which could be a good way to bridge the gap you feel growing between you and your wife. However, it’s also important for you to have someone with whom you can discuss your fears and frustrations so that you don’t take them out on your wife. That may be a close friend or trusted family member, or a mental health professional.

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