I struggle with depression from time to time, although I’ve really been doing well for the past few years. Last weekend I had a confluence of events that really bummed me out, and I spent Sunday feeling pretty sad.
Last night and much to my surprise, my husband told me I had “ruined Christmas” because I was depressed on Sunday. This is bad enough on its own, but it hurts even more because I have gone out of my way to make this Christmas special for him and our family. I’m not usually that into Christmas, but this year I was really trying my best and having fun with it.
This goes along with a general theme that it seems like nothing is ever good enough for him. We’ve been married a long time (sometimes it feels like an eternity – LOL) and I would characterize our marriage as very good, but sometimes he comes out of nowhere with criticism like this and makes sweeping generalizations about me and our relationship that don’t ring true.
Now I want to cancel Christmas and get on an airplane going anywhere, but I have three kids to think about and can’t really afford to do that anyway. What should I do to get back in the Christmas spirit and enjoy the holiday?
Dear Bah (or Ms. Humbug):
From one Bah to another, I salute your efforts to embrace the holiday season. It isn’t always easy and for many of us, this time of year churns up difficult shit from the past and mixes it with difficult shit from the present to create a swirling mass of poopy feelings and excessive spending.
I don’t know you or your husband and I don’t have time this morning to do much of a back and forth email so I’m going to make this brief. You say “nothing is ever good enough” for your husband. You may be right.
There are some people who for various reasons cannot truly accept their spouse (or friends or family members, for that matter) for who they are in all of their fucked up glory. I have a dear friend who is married to a woman who I think loves her husband, but she doesn’t seem to like him very much. Specifically, she seems put off by his gregarious personality and his sense of humor.
That’s a hell of a thing to live with, isn’t it? Because we can’t really change WHO WE ARE. We can change behavior, as you have done by throwing yourself into the Christmas spirit. But who you are – a person who occasionally suffers from depression – cannot be changed.
You told me you don’t take medication, so you may want to speak to your doctor about trying some.
But don’t expect anti-depressants to cure you of your Sad Visitor. She will still come, but hopefully her visits will be less often, more predictable, for a shorter time and less intense.
If your periodic depression is unacceptable to your husband, I suggest two approaches to your problem:
1. Send him to a hotel when you start to feel down; or
2. Find yourself a new husband.
I mean, really, that’s pretty shitty to claim you “ruined Christmas” because you spent one day feeling sad. There must be more to the story, but when I asked you point blank what you were leaving out, you assured me that was it.
Perhaps he is not into the Christmas thing this year and he is projecting his crap onto you. That’s not fair but it is certainly worth a discussion. I’m curious if he typically takes his disappointment in life out on you…because if that is his general modus operendi you could probably benefit from some professional marriage counseling.
As I’ve said before, I’m good, but I’m not THAT good. Sounds like there may be some other stuff going on in your relationship that you aren’t tuned into.
As to your question about what to do to get back in the Christmas spirit, I’d say focus on your kids and have a good time as best as you can. If your husband’s Christmas is truly “ruined,” that’s HIS problem, not yours.
He sounds like a bit of a drama queen, frankly. Let me guess: only child coddled by his parents and treated like a little prince?
God help me, I think I’m raising one of those. My son’s future wife is going to hate me.
Sorry I can’t be more helpful, but I am very festive today and must get my workout in before the Christmas trough is placed before me. Try to enjoy yourself and let me know how it goes.