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Relationships can be Tricky

Relationships with a spouse, significant other, or family member can be very tricky to handle, especially if one or both of the persons is under stress or going through an emotional problem like depression or an otherwise tough time.  Sometimes the healthier spouse is not as understanding of your illness and may try to do things his or her own way, going as far as to trying to control or manipulate you. This is not healthy for you or the relationship.

A good first step is always to sit down and have an open, honest discussion with your loved one about the problems you are having.  This is not always a guarantee, however.  Your spouse may not be willing to open up and share answers that only he or she can provide, or may offer responses that only make sense to him, not you. You might get the feeling that he or she is not being forthcoming or truthful in sharing all the important information with you that, in a perfect world, you would need to have. This puts you in a difficult position.  You have tried, have made yourself available and open to work things out, and a response like this can often cause you more distress and confusion, can “drive you crazy.”  If you have a mood disorder like depression, be particularly careful to listen carefully and not jump to judgment too quickly.  Depression can cause you to think negatively about things in life, which can impact your relationships.

So, what to do?  Trust your gut instincts about the person and the relationship.  If you truly believe that something is being held back, for whatever reason, then it would be helpful to you to calmly bring that up in conversation. Try to maintain a cool and composed attitude and not react with an emotional outburst, as that will only make the person defensive and escalate an argument.

Then, after working hard to solve your problems, you have to move forward in your life, with or without this person by your side. Again, trust your instincts to tell you if or when something is “not right.” Try to get as much solid information or evidence on which to base your decision, perhaps engaging the help of another other family member or therapist who knows you well, to know when it is time to make a change.  Stay away from rumors or idle gossip. When you base your decision on solid evidence, you have a better chance that what you are making is a sound decision. You will be less likely to have second doubts about “What if I’m wrong?” Of course, making major life decisions is difficult and nobody is perfect in doing this, so mistakes can happen along the way.  If that’s the case, you just re-group, reassess the situation and make a new plan.

So, how do you move forward?  It’s not easy to do. It might be scary at first to get yourself out of the house and interact with new people. I recommend that you start slow, and not have dating as a goal. Think about the things you like to do outside of work, things that interest you and give you pleasure, and pick one or two of them to pursue.  It might be a sports activity like a running club or volleyball game at your local Y, a choral group, garden club, an adult education class, or volunteering. In this way you slowly get to meet new people as individuals, as casual friends.  Later on you can focus on the dating world, but not at first.

A person who knows that she is in a broken or distrustful relationship and needs to stop trying to figure things out, that she has tried to repair it without success or cooperation from his or her spouse, is far ahead of the game.  The person who now recognizes that it is time to move forward in life has the advantage in achieving a happier outcome.

Stay well!*

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