Be A Lighthouse
I have client, who I will call Mark. He and his wife are heading into the next phase of their lives together. The kids are grown and have moved out of the house. They are going to college, getting married, and making plans for their futures. Since they have been off building their own lives, Mark has been reevaluating what he wants in his life and for the relationship between he and his wife. He really wants to travel, connect, share experiences and feel things but the problem is that his wife, who he’s been married to for 25 years now, doesn’t really seem to have those same desires. She does not seem to really want to do anything anymore.
Truly, he feels like her struggle with depression for so many years seems to be getting worse and he feels helpless. He does not know how to best help her, or how to best show up in the relationship. Often times on the weekends she won’t leave the house at all due to the overwhelm she is feeling. She will go to work during the week, come home and have dinner but does not really want to talk much, doesn’t smile much, and rarely laughs anymore. She has been drinking more than she used to and sometimes he worries that none of it is going to get better. He tries to be supportive and tried to get her to do things, but he said that he cannot imagine spending the next 30 years living like this. He does not know what to do anymore and feels like he has tried to help her and he really wants to fix it.
If you feel like your spouse might be struggling with depression and you, too, don’t know what to do, then here is my best advice. When your spouse is struggling you cannot “fix” that for them. You cannot drag them kicking and screaming towards happiness. You cannot make them happy, or make them engage in the relationship. That simply doesn’t work. As hard as that is, this is their journey, and this is their life. They have to want to fix it. They have to want to feel joy again.
What you can do is light the way for them, or be the lighthouse. Think about the lighthouse for a moment. What does the lighthouse do? Does a lighthouse jump off its foundation, make its way into the water to find the boats and chase them down, in order to pull them to shore? No.
All a lighthouse does is stand there shining the light. It shines that light to say “come this way, come this way, come this way. This is the way to the shore.” Do that. Be that for your partner. Shine your light and show them another way.
Mark is doing just that. He is living He’s connecting with friends, making plans, having conversations and sharing. He is having experiences that feel good and he’s trying to inspire change. He is showing his wife another way forward instead of trying to force her or pull her along. So, if your spouse is struggling with depression, be the lighthouse. Keep calling them forward.
If you want to find out how you can be the lighthouse in your marriage, I invite you to schedule a complimentary exploratory session with me.