Thursday, November 05, 2009

Blog Share

I do not know if my husband is a hypochondriac or if there is something seriously wrong with him or if he depressed/anxious and therefore feeling phantom physical symptoms, but it feels like I am living with an invalid sometimes and I don’t know what to do about it. I love him, don’t get me wrong, but his constant stream of illnesses and fatigue and lethargy is becoming intolerable.

That is my big secret.

If he is actually ill, that is different. I can be a caretaker/nurse type of person. I can nurture. I can be kind and loving and understanding and patient. I can be self-sacrificing.


I don’t think he is actually ill. I think these symptoms are in his head. When I am really feeling negative, I worry that he doesn’t actually have any symptoms but he pretends to because all he wants to do is lay on the couch like a lump. That is the worst thing I can imagine, that he really feels healthy but just doesn’t like doing ANYTHING.

I just don’t know what to do. It is lonely to be the only one in a relationship who wants to go out and do something. It is lonely to go for walks by myself all the time when I have a perfectly good husband sitting on the couch at home. It is lonely to cook dinner by myself all the time and it is lonely to meet friends out for dinner without him all the time. It is lonely to wake up on Saturday morning and have the whole day looming before me while my spouse sleeps until 4:30 p.m. I know those of you who are single right now are reading this and getting annoyed with me because who the hell am I to talk about loneliness. I promise you – I KNOW your kind of loneliness, having been through long stretches of single-hood myself – and this loneliness is much worse than the loneliness of being single. Being lonely when you actually ARE alone is one thing; being lonely within a marriage is another thing altogether.

This is not the life I imagined for myself, and yet I do not believe this is reason enough to divorce someone. Also (more importantly) I do not want to divorce him. I say that for many reasons, but mostly because he still makes me laugh most days and because we still have excellent conversations and because we still have fun together when I am in the mood to do some loafing myself or when he musters up the energy to do something with me. I still like to be around him and I can’t imagine my life without him in it.

And yet…sometimes I wish…well, I don’t know what I wish.

I like to believe that all marriages have their ups and downs, and that maybe we are just in this “down” phase when a lot of other married people we know are in an “up” phase and that’s why it feels so unusual, but a little teeny part of me wonders if we are ever going to get out of the “down”, if we simply aren’t compatible long-term. OR, do other people just not talk about this? I don’t know. I think the only way to find out is to plow ahead and see what happens.

I should warn you that I am extremely sensitive about this topic. If you comment, I would really appreciate it if you would do so in a kind manner. I was hesitant to write about this because I have found that most people are extremely critical of other people's relationships as soon as those people admit to any weakness or insecurity in that department, and...well, I don't know what I'm afraid of. I guess I'm just asking you not to say it sounds like my marriage is in the crapper, because I'm not sure it actually is.


  1. It sounds a little like depression. Have you tried to talk to him about this? I hope things improve for both of you.

  2. Amity9:12 AM

    I think you need to tell him these things. I think you need to really work together to make him better/happier/healthier, whatever. He needs to know how much this is hurting your relationship and your feelings towards him. Best of luck!

  3. Here are my thoughts, marriage is definitely work. Our first year of marriage I wondered if we would make it through. But, I think what made the absolute difference is both of us were invested in figuring out how to make it work and somehow we did. It's a completely different relationship than it was then and it was hard but so worth it. My advice would be to figure it out now because once those habits are established they are a lot harder to change. Good luck!

  4. I watched my mom deal with this from my dad for 33 years. They divorced a couple of years ago. I'm not saying I think you should divorce your husband. I am simply agreeing with a couple of the commenters above - please talk to him and try to change things now. I would hate to think another person goes through a long marriage dealing with this like my mom did. It does sound like he could possibly be depressed. Is he open to going to a counselor or doctor to see exactly what is going on? Or does he not think anything is wrong? I think you have to figure out if he's okay with the way he is or if he knows things need to change before you can make any decisions about your future.

  5. That's a tough one. I agree that being lonely within a relationship is way different -- and way worse, in my opinion -- than being single.

    Maybe plan some things you know your husband would like to do? I agree with the above commenters that it sounds like a touch of depression ... maybe if you get him out there to do some things he likes to do, he'll get out of his rut. If that doesn't work, I'd seek out a doctor or therapist. That is a tough situation, but I admire you for being committed to your marriage and not running away from it. Good luck!

  6. I'm not a doctor, but it sounds like your husband is clinically depressed. Has he seen a doctor? If not, let me share something that happened to me.

    About 8 years ago, I because clinically depressed. Like you, my partner was very concerned, and didn't know what to do. He knew there was something was wrong, though. So he approached me in a loving manner and said, "I love you and I want you to be happy. This behavior is not normal. There's something wrong. Please make an appointment to see your doctor and get help."

    That was a turning point for me. I did go see a doctor, I got some help, and the depression was treated and then passed. And I'm still with my (now) husband. The fact that he cared enough about me to confront me in a kind, loving way kind of sealed the deal for me.

    There's nothing embarrassing about depression, and many people have it at various points in the their lives. Get some help - for both your sakes.

  7. Anonymous11:28 AM

    I'm going to comment anonymously for this one, which is rare for me. I am struggling with this, too. My husband does not like to do many of the things I like to do, either. He's very much a homebody, but he does get outside - take walks, work in the woods, etc. I'm trying to do more of "his things" to spend time with him. Would that be a possbility for you?

  8. I feel for you, but I am more in the position of your husband than you. And of course, I say all of this knowing that every relationship is different and writing things on the screen can't parlay the entire situation. So, take from this what you want and leave the rest behind.

    I am mentally ill. I have bipolar disorder and am in recovery from anorexia. I wasn't diagnosed until I was 31 (six years ago), but looking back I had symptoms as young as 4 years old.

    Fortunately, I am high functioning. I have a successful career and a good marriage, but it takes a lot of work on both of our parts to make things this way. I take a lot of medication and I know if I go off my medication I would probably ruin everything I've worked so hard to attain - including my marriage. There are many times when I get home from work and physically feel like I can't do another things. There are weeks when all I can do is barely get myself thorugh a work day. Also, scientifically it is proven that people with depression and other mental illnesses often have more physical pain than other people experience.

    I feel badly about how I function because I know my husband has to deal with the fact that I often don't feel like doing things or have to cancel plans. I know he does all he can to understand, but it has to be incredibly frustrating for him at times.

    In my humble option, not knowing either of you, I think your husband needs to see someone. Now, getting him to do so may be a battle in and of itself and he may not be willing to do so. If that is the case, and if in fact this is something he won't snap out of, then I am feel for you. Depression pulls a lot of families apart and the person with the depression has to be the one willing to take steps to get healthy. A lot of people, especially men, have a hard time admitting they might be sick.

    All I can end with is I wish you the best and hope there is a positive way out of this for both of you.

  9. Anonymous12:21 PM

    As a person who has struggled with depression fairly frequently, I have been in your husband's shoes so many times. I wish that someone would have asked me to please, please get some help. It took me until my mid-twenties to finally see a therapist, and it has made all the difference in the world.

    There is hope, friend.

  10. This sounds really difficult. But I agree with everyone else. It sounds like depression to me as well. Have you talked to him about seeing a therapist? I would talk to him and tell him how you are feeling for sure.

  11. I agree with everyone above. Seems like it could be depression. And it reminds me of the Cymbalta commercial, with the tagline "depression hurts." I hope everything works out for you guys. Loneliness is terrible.

    You seem very dedicated to making this work (as evidenced by posting this entry), so your marriage is definitely not in the crapper.

    Let us know how everything goes. We're all rooting for you.



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