The List – Don’t Do Anything About Your Depression and Anxiety

Note: We are currently in a series called “The List.” The list refers to a list of ways you can lose your marriage, and is based on information gleaned from over 20 years of counseling records and watching marriage fail.

Depression and anxiety are so prevalent these days they’re like the emotional equivalent of the common cold. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, at any point in time, 3 to 5 percent of people suffer from major depression; with the lifetime risk being about 17 percent. According to, “anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and will affect nearly 30% of adults at some point in their lives.”

Most people suffering from depression and anxiety will get married and bring those issues into their marriage. So, for the sake of their marriage, it’s important for spouses to do something about their depression and anxiety.


Depression and anxiety, if left unattended, can take over your marriage and drive the relationship. They become the CEO’s in your marriage. Here’s what I mean by that…

  • C – Depression and anxiety are CONTAGIOUS in marriage. Your spouse will start exhibiting the same issues…or others in reaction to your depression and anxiety. Just as an injured leg will cause the rest of the body to limp to compensate, your spouse will limp trying to compensate for your depression or anxiety.
  • E – Your depression and anxiety will be EXASPERATING to your spouse. These issues will serve as a constant impediment to your spouse when it comes to going places, getting things done, and enjoying life in general. (More about that below.)
  • O – Depression and anxiety in a marriage are OPPRESSIVE to a marriage. They put a lid on how far the marriage can go and grow.

So, if depression and anxiety are that hard on a marriage…


Why don’t more people do something about their depression and anxiety if it’s hurting their marriage? Here are some possible reasons:

  • We don’t recognize it. Depression and anxiety can be hard to see when you’re in it. They can come on so gradually that It feels normal, and you don’t see the problem till you’re already deep into it.
  • We’re embarrassed to admit it. Though it’s not as bad as it once was, there’s still a lot of stigmas associated with having depression and anxiety. We’re afraid people will see us as weak or broken.
  • We want to handle it ourselves. Our pride and independence can get in the way of dealing with our depression and anxiety. We want to fix it on our own. But if we could do that, we would have already done it.
  • We don’t trust counselors or medication. This reason goes hand-in-hand with the previous reason. We would rather do it ourselves because we’re afraid that counselors or medication will somehow mess us up and make us worse. I don’t have the space or time to totally refute this now, but let’s just say this is more of an excuse than a help.


I know it’s easy to feel powerless and helpless in the face of depression and anxiety, but you are not without options or resources. Here are just a few of the things you can do to address and combat your depression and anxiety:

  • Improve your physical condition. It’s surprising what a difference taking care of yourself physically can make on depression and anxiety. I’m not saying that it will make you magically better, but diet, exercise, and proper sleep can have a big impact on depression and anxiety.
  • Find a better work/life balance. Now, it’s not possible to completely and precisely balance your work and home life. There will be some ebb and flow between them from season to season. But if they get too out of balance for too long, it can lead to and feed depression and anxiety.
  • Lean into spiritual resources. If you’re a person of faith, then leaning into the spiritual resources at your disposal can be a great source of comfort, strength, and direction for you.
  • Talk to a pastor or counselor. It’s not possible for us to handle everything in life by ourselves. From time to time, we all need a little help from someone who’s more objective and has more training and resources than we do.
  • Investigate possible medical help. If your depression and anxiety seem to be entrenched and unresponsive to the previous approaches, then it may have more to do with your biology than your thinking, faith, or circumstances. If you’ve tried everything else, but still struggle with depression and anxiety, then you may need to talk to your physician about the possible need for an anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication.


If you’re married to someone who struggles with depression or anxiety, you know what a strain it can put on your marriage. Here are some ways it can affect you…

  • You can wind up exhausted and frustrated from picking up the slack for your spouse.
  • This exhaustion and frustration can turn to anger and resentment.
  • You can wind up lonely, because your spouse stays in bed, stays withdrawn, or is too anxious to do things.
  • You can be faced with the choice of either staying at home all the time or getting out and doing things on your own.
  • You can feel like your spouse’s depression and anxiety are cheating you out of the life, enjoyment, and marriage you wanted.

Since you can’t force your spouse out of their depression or anxiety, it can feel like your hands are tied. But there are some things you can do:

  • Don’t avoid it or sweep it under the rug. The spouse with depression or anxiety already prefers to avoid the issue, so avoiding it just makes it worse.
  • Be lovingly truthful with your spouse. They may not see how it’s affecting you and the marriage. Or they may see it and feel so down on themselves they can’t bring the subject up. So you bring it up. I know you don’t want to hurt your spouse, but you must be truthful about how their issues are affecting you and the marriage. Be kind, be loving, but be truthful.
  • Ask/encourage them to take steps to improve things. Often, depression and anxiety can leave a person frozen and stuck. They may need your encouragement and gentle pushing to build some momentum. They probably won’t like it at first, but they may need it.
  • Take care of yourself. Though you can’t force them to do what they need to do, you can take care of yourself. Make sure you’re getting a proper diet, along with proper sleep and exercise. Find someone you can talk to about what you’re going through; someone who will listen to you and help guard you against making rash decisions. You may even need to talk to a counselor or physician if things persist.
  • Lean into your spiritual resources. If you’re a person of faith, find strength and guidance in the spiritual resources at your disposal.


This post is not intended to beat up those who struggle with depression or anxiety. Nor is it meant to make those people feel guilty. The purpose of this post is to (1) clearly make spouses aware of the impact depression and anxiety have on a marriage relationship and (2) encourage you to attack those issues with all your might. Because not doing anything about your depression and anxiety can cause you to lose your marriage. And that’s why…IT’S ON THE LIST.

The Quarantined Marriage

I typically talk about what it means to have a “normal marriage.” But in these days of social distancing, “normal“ has become a thing of the past. We are all operating under a new normal now. And that new normal is…quarantine!

Couples who have typically been franticly busy, running from one obligation too the next, are now forced to shelter in place, under the same roof, 24/7. A sort of forced companionship if you will.

But this forced companionship can be difficult. It can introduce irritations that we were able to avoid, as long as we stayed on the go. But now there’s nowhere to go!

Here are some things that can make the quarantined marriage a challenge:

  • BIG DIFFERENCES – It’s no news flash that couples are usually very different from one another. We have different personalities, different ways of working, different likes, different approaches to children, different stressors, and different triggers. Being together all day, every day, provides a lot of opportunity for those differences to bump into one another. If you can’t allow for your spouse’s differences without feeling disrespected or inconvenienced, then quarantine is going to be an experience that feels more like water boarding than togetherness.
  • POOR COMMUNICATION – Again, most couples are use to staying busy enough they have an excuse for not stopping and communicating with one another. Before the quarantine, we could get by on shallow conversations about our day. But during the quarantine, we can’t talk about our day…because we are both there in the middle of it! Quarantine forces us to talk about other things for longer periods of time. And this often reveals that the communication we used to do so phenomenally when we were dating, now needs a little work.
  • INCREASED ANXIETY – This one is a given. There is much for us to worry about these days. The big worry is whether we and our loved ones will avoid catching the virus. Another big source of anxiety is whether we will have a job and be able to pay our bills. Then, there’s the smaller worries. Before, we had to worry about whether our kids were good students. Now we have to worry about whether we’re good teachers. Before, we had to worry about who was going to the store to get milk. Now we have to worry about whether there will be any milk when we get to the store. These, and a host of other worries, can raise our anxiety, increase our stress, and make marriage more difficult.
  • LACK OF PURPOSE – This one is not so obvious. Before the quarantine, we were able to confuse taking care of business with having a purpose. It felt like our marriage was here to put a roof over our heads and food on the table, to raise and protect children, to build our careers, etc. But with our ability to do these things now on pause, we have to face the question…why are we married and what’s our real purpose for being married?

As you can see, this quarantine can certainly test your marriage. But you can also use the quarantine as a time to train your marriage. Let me encourage you to use this time to do the following:

  • Learn that your spouse’s differences are not about you. Their differences are about them. Your spouse is different from you, not because they’re trying to get your goat, but because that’s the way God and life has made them. They are not out to get you, so stop taking their differences so personally. Begin to think of their differences as more tools that can be added to the marriage tool box.
  • Learn how to talk again. It doesn’t have to be life-changing, gut-wrenching conversations on a Dr. Phil level. Just talk about anything and everything. You use to do this when you were dating. So if you’re having trouble with this, go back and remember those times. The more you talk about little things, the easier it will be to talk about bigger things.
  • Learn to to calm your anxieties. Anxieties are like the warning lights on the dashboard of your car. They tell you something might need attention, but they don’t tell you to drive your car off a bridge! Note your anxieties, but don’t live by them. Some anxiety is natural and even healthy in times like these. But if you find your anxiety is causing you more problems than solutions, you need to learn How to deal with your anxiety. Find a close friend who can talk you off the roof. Read Scriptures than can calm your heart. Pray. And if you can’t find anything to calm your anxiety, you may need to talk to your physician. But use this time of quarantine to train your anxiety.
  • Learn to live for something greater then just the immediate. Surely you got married for more than just raising kids and paying bills. What is it about your marriage that con’t be stopped by a quarantine? What is it you want to accomplish in your marriage and with your marriage? Spend some time together tossing that question around and dreaming about that.

When it comes to marriage, you can look at this time of quarantine as a time of testing or a time of training. What will you choose?