Depression can wreck marriages. Ignoring it, minimizing it, denying it, or delaying dealing with it will only increase the chances that your marriage will be damaged or even be destroyed by it.

Recently I came across a couple of great resources on this subject. First, here’s a short CCEF podcast answering the question: How can I help my spouse through depression? Main points:

  • Understand that as deeply you love your spouse, you don’t have the ability to cure their depression.
  • God is calling you to something simpler and more important than curing it;  just being a faithful witness to God’s love in it.
  • Love your spouse in simple ways that communicate to them that they are not loved depending on whether or not they are emotionally well.
  • Love, regardless of whether you are seeing “results.”
  • Don’t communicate: “If you were just trying harder or if you were more spiritual, you wouldn’t have this struggle.”
  • Instead of thinking: “How can I end this depression?” Think: “How can I love God and serve others in this depression.”
  • Use Gospel freedom to express your groans and darkness to God, as the Psalmist did.

Second, there’s this article, How to cope with a depressed spouse, from Reader’s Digest. Yes, Reader’s Digest! Main points:

  • Be alert to small changes. Depression can come on slowly, almost imperceptibly. Most are reluctant to recognize it and identify it. It may look different in different people.
  • Don’t wait for your spouse to hit bottom.
  • Break the ice gently yet firmly. Don’t blurt out: “You’re depressed!” or announce: “You better get help!” Approach your spouse with concern and with an action plan.
  • Get a diagnosis — together.  Going to the doctor together helps to describe the problem and remember the advice.
  • Know that the odds are in your favor.  The success rate of depression treatment is as high as 90 percent.
  • Keep on learning about depression.  The more you know, the better you can cope and fight.
  • Be alert for relapses. 50% of those who suffer a bout of major depression will have a relapse.
  • Find support. Choose a trusted friend to confide in. Accept assistance when offered.
  • See depression as an intruder in your marriage. Like any other illness, depression is an outside force — an unwelcome visitor wreaking havoc with your spouse’s health, your marriage, and your home life.

That last point is the only one I would seriously question. I would encourage Christians to see depression as from the Lord, part of His wise providence. If it’s from His hand, it’s not a hostile intruder, but has wise and good purposes behind it. I’d also want to add to these lists:

  • Regularly read the Bible, pray, and sing together.
  • Keep going to your local church, and get involved in serving others to a limited extent.
  • Exercise together, preferably taking leisurely walks in Gods creation.
  • Keep conversation positive rather than negative, focusing on the good in others rather than their faults.
  • Help your spouse to establish regular & healthy eating and sleep patterns
  • Use Ed Welch’s book A Stubborn Darkness, to gently probe the possibility of any spiritual causes

Anything else you’ve found helpful?

  • Ryan Elliott (Indy)

    Dr. Murray – very insightful. Thanks for writing this post!

    • David Murray

      Thanks Ryan.

  • John Kuvakas

    Great posting, David. Would you consider adding a “share” button to your page? I’d like to be able to share your postings with my facebook friends.

    • David Murray

      Apparently FB have done away with the “Share” button. Can still be re-activated but takes a bit of coding.

      • Andrew

        I have a ‘Share on Facebook’ button on the bookmark bar of Safari. Not sure where I got it from, but it works on all the sites I’ve tried to use it on, and is very useful.
        Just searched and found it … in Facebook!

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  • Luma Simms

    Dear Mr. Murray,

    I just want to say thank you for this post and the work you do. It has helped me and I know for a fact that it is helping others.

    In Christ,
    Luma Simms

    • David Murray

      Thanks so much Luma. So glad to know that the Lord is blessing.