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How to Faithfully Support Your Spouse through Their Depression

Jennifer Waddle

iBelieve Contributor
Published: Aug 06, 2021
How to Faithfully Support Your Spouse through Their Depression

It was supposed to be a fun, relaxing afternoon away from the kids, enjoying a leisurely lunch with my husband. However, all the way to the restaurant, I fought back unexplained tears and feelings of hopelessness.

The thing is, my sweet husband had been through it before—my withdrawal from him and the kids—but he didn’t expect me to be struggling on a day out together, a day that should have been lighthearted and fun.

Depression hits when you least expect it. Without rhyme or reason, it clouds the sunniest of days with a heaviness that can’t be willed away. For the believer in Christ, it feels like a lack of faith or even disobedience to God, which makes the depression that much worse.

Fortunately, I had a spouse who learned to be prayerful and supportive, and because of that, I was able to move beyond depression’s heavy burden and find ways to cope and heal. If you have a spouse that battles depression, here are a few ways you can help.

 Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Motortion

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sad couple

1. Accept They Need Help

By the time my husband and I got to the restaurant that day, I was crying and ranting and unable to go inside. I felt guilty for ruining our afternoon and kept repeating how sorry I was. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I knew I needed help.

Once my husband accepted I needed help as well, it was as if a dam broke loose and all the pent-up anxiety and depression flowed out of me. Even though it was the absolute worst time, financially, for us to seek professional counseling, we did what it took to cut back on other expenses so I could meet with a trusted mentor.

Through her wisdom and practical help, I made great strides in recognizing depressive triggers such as irrational worry, unhealthy habits, and control issues. And having my husband walk the journey with me, helped tremendously.

No matter how difficult, try to accept that your spouse needs help and do everything you can to make sure they get it. Encourage them to get a full medical physical and speak candidly with a trusted physician. Find solid, Biblical counseling and schedule that first meeting. Remain calm but insistent.

Your acceptance and acknowledgment will go a long way to validate your spouse and let them know they aren’t alone in the struggle.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

     Please help me support my spouse by accepting they need help with their depression. Prevent me from standing in the way of their healing. Show us, as a couple, the right way to go and lead us to the right doctors and professionals who are trustworthy and can give us the tools to heal. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Photo Credit: ©Thinkstock

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2. Don’t Take It Personally

2. Don’t Take It Personally

For the spouse who is trying to help their husband or wife through depression, it can be tempting to take things personally. Questions arise such as:

Am I making my spouse depressed?

What have I done to cause this?

What could I have done differently?

Am I that awful to live with?

Keep in mind, a depressed person doesn’t want to feel that way; they want the dark cloud to be lifted. However, in their attempts to feel better, they might point the blame outward and make their spouse feel responsible.

Communication is key to understanding what is at the root of your spouse’s depression. Find a time when emotions are steady and talk about what is really going on. Often, depressed people name surface issues as the real problem, when in reality, there are deeper issues to be addressed.

One example from my own journey was wanting to blame my husband for not doing enough to help me. I thought his behavior was causing me to feel depressed. However, once I gained perspective, I realized the problem wasn’t him but me. The deeper issue was my lack of communication. Instead of asking for the help I needed, I expected him to read my mind. And when he couldn’t read my mind, I would get so worked up, I’d sink into a pit of despondency, leaving my poor husband to wonder what on earth he’d done wrong.

So, don’t take your spouse’s depression personally—even if they point blame. However, be sure to get to the root of depression so you can work through things together. Chances are, there are changes you can both make to ease some of the frustration.

Keep in mind, if you’re dealing with clinical depression, it will require medical help. Pray for discernment and seek wise counsel to help you determine exactly what you’re dealing with.

Heavenly Father,
     Help me communicate gently with my spouse and try not to feel responsible for their depression. Show me areas in which I can change to be more loving and considerate. Help us, as a couple, get to the root issue of things so we can move forward and be strengthened in our marriage. Most of all, help us define the extent of the depression so we can seek proper treatment. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Another resource for your journey: This Wasn’t Part of the Deal

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/EtiAmmos

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couple holding hands in prayer support forgiveness slow to anger

3. Walk with Them

Because depression is hard to understand, it can be tempting to let your depressed spouse figure things out on their own. But they need you to walk with them through the highs and lows and support them however you can.

The Bible reminds us to “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13) And again in Ephesians 4:2, we are told to” Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

Our spouses need us to bear with them, even when we don’t understand what they are experiencing. Empathy is a BIG part of supporting a spouse with depression. It says, “I don’t know what you’re feeling, but I can imagine it’s difficult to handle. I am here for you every step of the way.”

One thing to keep in mind is that it’s not your job to “fix” your spouse. It’s only your job to be there for them and pray for them. You can listen, offer love and compassion, and suggest resources to help. These are ways of walking with them without taking the burden onto yourself.

While you might feel overly responsible for your depressed spouse, there is only so much you can do. Assuring them of your love and being there to comfort them are things that will truly help.

Gracious God,
     Please help me have the wisdom and discernment to walk with my spouse through their depression without feeling like I have to fix them. Give me an overflow of Your love and compassion so that I’m not trying to love them in my own strength. Please help us walk together to find the help needed and to ultimately overcome the burden of depression. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Another resource for your journey: Quarantined with a Depressed Spouse? 7 Ways to Encourage Them

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/dragana991

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couple sitting together watching sunset, how to heal after miscarriage

4. Pray Often

Of all the things you can do for a spouse with depression, praying for them is the #1 help. They need you to intercede on their behalf. As James 5:16 says, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (KJV) 

When you pray and talk openly about your spouse’s depression, it can help them feel comfortable in admitting their struggles. Instead of hiding it, which is often the case, they will feel free to share their feelings, knowing you will be faithful to pray.

Ultimately, you want your spouse to be healed from depression, and praying for healing in Jesus’ name is the best thing you can do. If possible, gather a prayer team of trusted friends and family members and include them in praying for healing. There is great comfort in knowing others are praying you through a dark season, and it can make all the difference in a depressed person’s life.

Gracious God,
     I come to You today on behalf of my depressed spouse. I release all worries to You, knowing You are in control. Please help my spouse, Lord. Heal them in the mighty name of Jesus, according to Your will. Help me understand better, love more, and offer what I can. Bring supportive friends and family members to walk this journey with us. Thank You for loving us and caring for us. In the name of Jesus, we put our trust. Amen.

More resources for your journey:

What does the Bible say about depression?

Resources on Depression

Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Văn Thắng

Jennifer WaddleJennifer Waddle is the author of several books, including Prayer WORRIER: Turning Every Worry into Powerful Prayerand is a regular contributor for LifeWay, Crosswalk, Abide, and Christians Care International. Jennifer’s online ministry is EncouragementMama.com where you can find her books and sign up for her weekly post, Discouragement Doesnt Win. She resides with her family near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains—her favorite place on earth. 

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Originally published Friday, 06 August 2021.