How to Avoid Getting Sucked into Your Mate's Depression
Depression happens. Unless you're Amish, it very likely you know someone in its grip right now. You may even know firsthand what a major depressive episode or chronic depression feels like.
When it hits the person you love and pledged your life to, it can be so very frustrating. You want to help, but to date no one has demonstrated that cajoling or entertaining reduces the duration or depth of depression or that spousal whining increases motivation to do something about a depression. Even if you're trained in treating this miserable mental illness, the shift in roles is likely to screw up your marriage.
So don't focus on the illness.
What you can do instead is to take extra care of your marriage while your husband, wife, or life partner deals with the depression. Make a list of the valuable things you get from your marriage and work on ways to keep getting them while your spouse is unable to provide them.
For example, if your spouse temporarily has no enthusiasm for being your tennis partner, movie date, idea person, or editor, find others to fill in. Make it clear to them and your spouse that they are temporary, and don't choose anyone with whom your mate might feel competitive. But by all means, keep doing what fills you up and makes you smile.
Or bring a favorite shared activity home. Invite friends over to watch rented movies or rehearse a performance. Let your spouse join you or retreat to a quiet part of the house. Worry about enjoying yourself. Your smiles, energy, and laughter are a welcoming beacon back to the world of the non-depressed.
If your spouse stops cooking, buy ready-made meals or start doing the cooking. Just be sure they are good, nourishing meals you will enjoy. If your mate stops mowing the lawn or cleaning the living room, hire someone to help you keep up with the work well before your resentment sets in.
Take care of your needs. If your spouse stops collecting bonus and overtime pay, supplement your income well before becoming fearful of having too little money. It's your job to protect hope, as depressed people lose their grip on it.
Protect pleasure, too. Be the one to initiate sex and get creative in building up to it more slowly and deliciously than usual.
And Expect Love. Let go of all your usual expectations about how it might appear. Instead, watch your suffering spouse for every sign of love for you. Celebrate it. Amplify it. Return it fivefold. Protect your relationship and you protect your mate's most important resource.