Is Your Husband Depressed?

Is Your Husband Depressed? Depression isn’t just a female condition. It’s true depression is more common in females than in males.  The prevalence is due to biological, hormonal and social factors unique to women, however, depression isn’t just a female thing. The National Institute of Mental Health  (NIMH) shows in a 2017 study the following:

  • An estimated 17.3 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 7.1% of all U.S. adults.
  • The prevalence of major depressive episode was higher among adult females (8.7%) compared to males (5.3%).

Man in denial about his depression

Depression is not to be taken lightly. Clinical depression goes far beyond “having a bad day.” We tend not to recognize depression in men because the disorder itself is looked at as unmanly. Depression carries the stain of stigma of mental illness and also the stigma of femininity. Women in a relationship with a depressed man are often faced with a painful dilemma.  As a marriage counselor, couples come in to see me for communication issues, loss of intimacy, and infidelity. Often times the presenting problems have underlying issues of male depression.

Women married to depressed men have two options. They can either confront him about his depression or collude with him minimizing it. There’s already a certain amount of shame that goes with having depression in general, but for a man, it is shame filled and shameful. Depression in men goes unrecognized and unacknowledged by the men who suffer and by those around them. The hidden condition is enormous. Men and women handle feelings differently. Females are socialized to allow for emotional expressiveness and foster emotional connection while being systematically discouraged from asserting their authentic selves. Males are socialized to greatly encourage their assertive public selves while being discouraged from exercising emotional connectedness and developing skills for making and appreciating that connection.

As a result, men tend to internalize their feelings and when these feelings are left suppressed or repressed, they can erupt like a volcano. Depression in some men can manifest itself through rage, aggressiveness, withdrawal, irritability, and frustration. Physical symptoms include headaches, feelings of restlessness, agitation, appetite change, fatigue to name a few. Alcohol and drug abuse/dependency, as well as working long hours at the job, is another sign where the underlying issue is depression.

No two people are affected the same way by depression and there is no “one-size-fits-all” for treatment. Typically medication and talk therapy is the mode of treatment. As a marriage and family therapist, men I work with are opposed to medication as they think taking medication is a sign of weakness. I tell them if they had Leukemia or Diabetes they would surely have no qualms about taking them. In addition to medication and counseling men can incorporate some of these tips to managing their depression:

  • Regularize your schedule. Eat, sleep, exercise at the same time.
  • Try to be active and exercise.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself.
  • Try to spend time with other people and confide in a trusted friend or relative.
  • Try not to isolate yourself, and let others help you.
  • Expect your mood to improve gradually, not immediately.
  • Postpone important decisions. Discuss decisions with others who know you well and have a more objective view of your situation.
  • Continue to educate yourself about depression.

Couples therapist

It may take some trial and error to find the treatment that works best for you but doing nothing will have you feeling and doing more of the same. Contact me at (858) 735-1139 or email me at [email protected] for more information about male depression and what it’s doing to you and your family.

 

Are You Overfunctioning?

Are You Overfunctioning? If yes, stop. As a young woman I learned to overfunction in all my relationships which is another sign of codependency. When a person in a relationship overfunctions the other tends to underfunction. Meaning one partner does all the work and the other looks like they aren’t doing their part. When my husband and I had our child he was new to parenthood. I’d been in a previous marriage and was parenting my then 12 year old. Because I was accustomed to doing “everything” I took care of our newborn 24/7. I’d do the every 2 hour bottle feeding, bath time,  laundry, etc. I was exhausted and could barely get in a quick shower. All the while I was upset because my husband was doing very little except for putting in a long day at work. I asked my husband if he wasn’t helping me because he didn’t want to or because I wasn’t making room for him to do anything? He said the latter. I realized my overfunctioning was managing the anxiety of being a new mother again. My anxiety prohibited my husband from performing tasks of being a new parent himself and providing me the help I needed.

Overfunctioning

Goodhousekeeping Mother overfunctioning

Overfunctioning, as much as the word is self explanatory for some begs the question…”what is overfunctioning?” More importantly, what does it look like. As a Marriage Counselor, explaining what behaviors look like is very helpful and become teachable moments. When a wife asks her husband to help around the house, what does that look like? To the wife it could be cleaning every nook and cranny with disinfectant. To the husband it could be picking up his shoes and some water glasses he left throughout the house. When you ask someone to do something tell them what you expect…behaviorally. In this case, the wife wanted her husband to make sure all items left on the floor were picked up and placed where they belong. And take the trash out on trash day.

Overfunctioning is seen in many scenarios:

  • Doing all the party planner thinking others can’t do a better job.
  • Making all the decisions for vacation planning.
  • Doing all the housework yourself believing only you can clean it the way you want.
  • Parenting with little regard or insight to your spouse because you think you can do it better.
  • Over talking someone during a conversation.
  • Keeping a conversation going not allowing others to chime in.

Overfunctioning for others can be effective at managing anxiety or tension, but can prevent both you and the other person from becoming a more responsible person. Overfunctioning can create anger and resentment toward the person underfunctioning which tends to lead to disharmony in relationships.

Couples therapist

In working with my couples I give them directives to help them move forward from a stagnate status quo. I believe, and stress this in counseling, the “we” in relationships is only as strong as the “me.” So when one person is neglecting their “me” I tell them to stop overfunctioning and concentrate on them self and what they need. Self-care and understanding what is creating their anxiety and appropriately managing it is a good start.

For more information please contact me at my website www.couplescounselorsandiego.com or call me at (858) 735-1139.

 

 

 

 

 

Is Your Husband Narcissistic?

Is Your Husband Narcissistic? Losing Your Sense Of Self?  Maybe Your Husband Is A Narcissist. Narcissists say things to invalidate you.  Are you a fair and reasonable person? Do you feel like you’re going “crazy” in your relationship because you feel invisible and worthless? Maybe it’s not you. In a healthy relationship, your partner will show empathy for your emotions and validate your thoughts/perspective. With validation people feel seen and heard. Although I talk about a narcissistic husband, women can also display same behaviors.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a mental illness in which a person has an inflated sense of self-importance. It is likely caused by genetic and environmental factors. Treatment can help but the condition cannot be cured. Whether your husband has NPD or narcissistic traits, living with them can be very challenging. As a Marriage Counselor, acquiring communication tools can help if exercised with consistency. Just like any skill, communication skills need to be practiced to become perfected.

Things narcissists say to invalidate emotions, thoughts, and experiences:

  • You’re making a big deal out of nothing
  • You don’t know what you’re talking about
  • Don’t be so lame, you’ll be fine
  • I don’t remember saying that
  • Give you the silent treatment (to be punitive or controlling)

Narcissistic traits: to name a few

Over inflated sense of self

Reacts poorly to criticism

Unable to take responsibility for their actions

Manipulates to get their own way

Unable to See You as a Real Person

Reality is their own reality – unable to see other people’s perspective

Thinks they are always right

Takes advantage of other people

Lie

Couples therapistWhat does it mean when someone is invalidating you?

 

It is the act of purposefully denying, rejecting, minimizing, negatively judging, and/or ignoring your expressed experience, thoughts, actions, or emotions, – Narcwise

As a Marriage Counselor, working with couples where one partner shows narcissistic traits, I bring to their attention arguing with a narcissist about their action often proves fruitless. A more successful solution is to establish boundaries and emotionally distance yourself. Recognize that you may not be able to control your feelings about a person, but you can control how you respond to them. Cutting ties with a narcissistic partner, family member, or boss may eventually be the best if not the only solution.

For more information on narcissistic husbands contact me at (858)735-1139 or via my website at www.couplescounselorsandiego.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Couples Counseling Is All About

What Couples Counseling Is All About. As a Couples Counselor, let me tell you what couples counseling is not about. It’s not about taking sides and becoming one of the two partner’s ally while blaming and attacking the other. Getting some couples counseling doesn’t mean your relationship is so bad it won’t work. Divorce or a break up isn’t inevitable. I get it, it’s scary for some as some couples because they think they should be able to fix their problems. They think airing out their dirty laundry is personal and can be embarrassing. Nearly half of couples come to counseling to learn how to better handle conflict. As a Marriage Counselor, the majority of my couples say they need help with communication. Communication includes not being able to initiate conversation, express thoughts and feelings, and ask for want they need and want. They need help managing their emotions when they can’t agree to disagree.

There are many reasons couples go to counseling.  To name a few:

Needing communication skills

Needing conflict resolution skills

Looking for a stronger physical connection

Wanting more intimacy for an emotional connection

Wanting to learn new skills to maintain their relationship

Affair recovery

Help with decision making

Blended family issues

Change of life issues

Need help with child related concerns

Couples therapist

 

Couples who start their process are pleasantly surprised when they look back at the progress they’ve made and the concrete strategies they’ve learned. Resistance and defensiveness is replaced by empathy, effective communication, and emotional safety

Couples counseling can be effective if both partners are willing to undergo the process with good integrity. Meaning they will put in the effort and do what is required of them to receive their desired outcome.

For more information on couple counseling please give me a call at (858) 735-1139 or visit my website at CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com

 

Better Off Going To Couples Counseling Alone?

Better Off Going To Couples Counseling Alone? In the 25 years that I’ve been working with couples I find it challenging to work with partners who are resistant and argumentative. They drain me of my own energy. I can imagine what they do to their partners. In the first session I can detect a resistant partner. They do more talking than listening and they tend to say “yes, but” after everything I say. They seldom let the other partner talk and sometimes it becomes a screaming match. I bring to their attention that both their perspectives are correct and not to turn discussions into power struggles.

unhappy couple in couples counseling

Couples counseling can be highly effective. Partners must be able to recognize and admit when their actions or expectations are unreasonable. It takes some insight to be able to do that. Bad signs that some aren’t able to do that is when they do a “rage quit” where they walk out of session yelling and sometimes crying because they can’t take constructive criticism. During the counseling process I assess whether that partner is capable or incapable of gaining insight. Some clients can’t or won’t adjust their behavior. If they won’t I find out why they won’t as they do have a choice. If they can’t I assess whether or not their is a psychological challenge (code for mental disorder) that prohibits understanding reality vs. “their reality.” If a mental illness does exist, prognosis is poor as people with mental disorders don’t see their shortcomings as irregular (ego syntonic) which means their reality is the only thing that registers to them as it’s part of their personality.

If this is the case, you’re better off going to counseling alone. The partner who continues through Marriage Counseling for One, can acquire the tools to help the relationship move forward. Implementing the newly acquired tools role models for the resistant partner what is appropriate and effective. Since individuals can only control themselves they can get the relief they need to cope when challenges exist. Couples Counseling for One does focus on the Relationship, not the Individual and adapt couples counseling techniques for use with one spouse only.  Relational skills training is received by the one spouse and then teaches those skills to their partners behaviorally through day to day interaction.

Effective couples counselings requires both participants to reflect on his or her beliefs, behaviors, and impact on the other.

For more information on couples counseling for one or marriage counseling for one contact me at (858) 735-1139 visit my website at CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com