Relationships and depression is a very challenging combination for any couple because depression creates the behaviors within the person that stops them giving the relationship the fuel it needs to survive.
One question we could ask is what caused the depression, and one of the answers of course could be the relationship is the problem.
Another conclusion we could discover is the relationship and it’s problems has generated feelings that were familiar and related to past heightened emotional experiences i.e. Not feeling loved, not feeling enough, not feeling accepted for who they are. These could trigger feelings and behaviors that were designed to cope and escape that pain.
To cope, some people in low emotional states need to create behaviors they can control, this is important because in a world of uncertainty they need something they can depend on.
Very often this coping behavior was designed for a very different life condition and so what seemed to work years before no longer works today and helps them to feel worse.
So what can a couple do because over time the depressed person will struggle to give to the relationship and their partner will feel that all they do is give yet they get very little in return.
Both people end up frustrated and empty.
When working with a couple in this place, my focus is on understanding the life the person(s) really wants to achieve and look at the strategies they have created to achieve that and see if their life is winnable.
Once the person can see they have been desperately trying to meet their needs, but are doing so in such low level ways they will never feel what they are really after. Only when the person understands this then can they start to meet those critical needs with new constructive behaviors.
Essentially we are looking to interrupt old patterns that cause pain and replace them with new ones that encourage growth and fulfillment.
The strategy fits for both the depression and any relationship challenges they may have faced.
This enables the couple to stop the focus on their problems and fears and focused them on contributing to what’s important to them.
In essence if you want to feel something then, you have to give it.
Giving is a very powerful tool, it feeds the relationship and it significantly helps to remove depressive states, you see it’s very difficult to stay depressed whilst you are giving to others.
Usually in relationships many people are holding back, not giving all of themselves to the relationship with a goal to protect themselves from pain.
So this is where the work begins…