My wife has depression part two

Ok, so we are having another episode and I am feeling lost and exasperated. All was going well until yesterday evening. Admittedly we had short notice but have to surrender our weekend to head over to my daughter's place to help her move in. But my wife was absolutely fine with that. Until she called her (narcissistic) mother who was also keen to help and volunteered to come over too. However, her mother then announced that a friend of hers was visiting from overseas and she had offered to take her to visit our new house at 8.30pm that Sunday night. My wife understandably was upset as we both have demanding full time jobs and are now fully occupied all weekend. A bath and a glass of wine was on the cards for Sunday evening, not entertaining visitors until after 10pm before the working week resumes. She calmly but politely pointed out to her mother that we wouldn't know when we'd be back and would have been busy all weekend - this wasn't received well. Since when the darkness descended. I was told it wasn't me - but the rest of last night was a very subdued affair. I had to go to bed at 10pm as I was really tired and she seemed fine with that, I even got a goodnight kiss. But this morning she has barely said two words. I think I know it's because she is facing pressure - from being already busy at work and helping at my daughter's place, now also her mother's 'huff' at her plans being challenged, which no doubt we will have to accommodate despite not being available to clean the house in readiness for this surprise visitor. Sorry for the lengthy description but my question is - should I offer to clean the house tonight and do a 'solo' mission at my daughter's place to ease the pressure? My worry is that I lapse back into 'fixer' mode, I am the one who 'makes it better' and I end up just reinforcing what could become a toxic dynamic. I can see she is hurting and I want to help, but I really don't know how to break out of this prospect and I am really worried about returning to the 'default' mode of my previous life. I feel so miserable and upset right now.

8 Replies

  • Oh dear. It's seems clear your wife has issues with her mother that she hasn't dealt with. Is she having any counselling at the moment? I would encourage her to leave her mother out of anything to do with your family. Tell her she has you and others to give her support and love and her mother is never going to be able to do this for her. She is banging her head against a brick wall expecting anything else from a narcissistic parent.

    Like I said your wife has to deal with her issues otherwise nothing will ever change. Get her to look at Psyche Central (google it). There are some great articles in there about narcissistic parents, what they do, and how to deal with them.

    Good luck.


    Also sign up to their newletters (it's all free). It has lots about narcissist parents.

  • Thanks Lilaclil. It's a tricky dynamic as my wife understands the toxic nature of the relationship but seems unable to break free. Instead she attacks me for not 'protecting' her. I feel that's unfair as I have done so, but none of these examples cut any ice. When she is in 'that place' I am the bad guy and right now I am being verbally attacked and outmanoeuvred as her depression takes over. There is no talking to her. I am being accused of not caring, of being selfish etc. Now she is on about how she has to put up with everyone's sh*t including mine and I have to say I do not look forward to this evening or this weekend with any enthusiasm. I feel like my whole life has been devoted to handling and managing other people's mental health issues. But I have put the point to her about counselling and trying to learn coping strategies. Hopefully we can take that forward.

  • Hi I think you need to make it clear to her that it is not your problem but hers. Can you learn to detach yourself emotionally when she is blaming you? Refuse to deal with any of it?

    Obviously you do this in a nice way but be firm as well. Tell her she will have to learn to deal with her own issues and can't put them onto you as it's not fair.

    Does she realise this is undermining your whole relationship?

  • Hi, first of all I'd like to say how lucky you're wife is to have you support her so well. Not everyone is so fortunate. It seems to be true that the Ones closest to us get it in the knock when things turn bad. It's a shame your wife dosnt have the strength to stand up to her mother!! And just tell her as it is!! i do think your wife's behaviour is unfair and I'm really sorry it's spoiling you're plans. life is too short to let people have such a negative influence on our lives. You must get very frustrated but you need to talk to your wife and remind her none of what's happened is your doing.

  • Wouldn't this all be easier if your wife just got on treatment that helps her live life without the depression to deal with? I mean I know you think her mother a narcissist but that could also be an "in-law" thing.

    But my point is, if you wife were to see medical help for her depression, she and you might actually be better able to enjoy your marriage without needing to walk on shells cause of depression.

    I applaud you for doing a great job so far but maybe you need to see if you can talk her into getting on treatment to help her enjoy her own life and handle issues such as the one with her mum in a more mature and natural way, as opposed to letting the slightest things depress her.:)

  • So sorry to read of your upset. I've always been the fixer of our family so appreciate exactly your position. My situation has been eased somewhat since both my parents have passed & although my wife's parents are elsewhere in Europe they're still only a 90 min flight away. There have been times I've been tempted to shout; "What the fuc# dya expect me to do"?! But at the end of the day, I suppose, it's family. Do you think maybe it's time to bite the bullet & explain to your wife, whilst you'll always be there for her, it's her who has to make the initial moves to resolving the problem?

  • Thanks all, I really appreciate the responses. I accept that I am partly to blame as I really do not like conflict and I have had 30 years of (prior) training from an emotionally abusive wife that I am the problem. So despite having had counselling, when these episodes arrive my instinct is to fell under attack and try to 'make it all right'. I am getting better though at pushing back. In the event that evening was very upsetting. Once again the focus turned onto me and where I am disappointing as a husband. I responded by saying I couldn't take much more of being told how cr*p I am as a partner and as a person. She just shrugged. But later there were tears from her and sickness through the night. Next morning though, the 'storm' had passed and we spoke calmly and openly. I did reiterate that we both needed to have some kind of coping mechanism and urged her to seek some form of counselling (which she has previously agreed to) but how that materialises is I guess the key issue. My worry is that as the good period returns I just 'let it go' ... until the next time. I think I will choose my moment and gently remind her. I do love my wife, and I am keen to try and understand and to be supportive ... but not be a 'carer' and certainly not be the brunt for any anger or upset she is feeling. Thanks everyone for ideas and comments, it is really good to get that support and perspective and much appreciated. FB

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