[Two Pronged] I think my husband has depression, but he refuses to seek help, and now our children are suffering

Rapplers Life and Style section runs an advice column from couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr. Margarita Holmes.

Jeremy holds a Master of Laws from the University of Oxford. A 37-year-old banker who worked on three continents, he trained with Dr. Holmes for the past 10 years as a co-lecturer and, on occasion, as a co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns interfere with their daily lives.

Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Male Mindset i Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Ties.


Dear Dr. Holmes and Mr. Baer:

My husband and I immigrated to America from the Philippines in search of a better life for our children.

Although we lived comfortably in Manila, we felt that life in the Philippines was no longer the kind of life we ​​wanted for our children. We knew about the pains and struggles of immigrants. Or at least we thought. It turned out to be a shock to our system, mine and my husbands.

And what I optimistically thought would be just adjustment pains, now seem to be challenges caused by more fundamental issues in our marriage and ourselves. My husband was not as lucky as I was to find a job here that he likes or can stand.

So four years ago, he chose to be a stay-at-home dad to our three young children. Initially, I was happy with this arrangement because the cost of childcare here is impossible for modest middle class people like us. But in recent years, it has become increasingly apparent that even childcare and housework are burdensome for him.

I think he may be suffering from depression, but he refuses to seek professional help. I know that the children also suffer because of what happens at home. So much for giving them a better life in America.

I don’t know what to do anymore and I feel like my resentment towards my husband is growing every day. Isn’t he supposed to take care of me too? Why can’t he help himself? We’ve already talked about divorce a few times. Sometimes, I think about going out with my husband and taking the kids with me.

But when I start thinking about who would help me take care of the kids so I could continue working, it hardly seems like a better arrangement than the one I have today. We tried marriage counseling. I’m seeing a therapist. Nothing seems to work. I feel so alone and lost.

What can I do?

Sincerely, Patty


Dear Patty,
As you have clearly discovered, emigration is not necessarily the solution to all problems. In your case, adjustment to a new country has been beset by the unexpected: a husband (let’s call him Jim) who first couldn’t hold down a job and then it seems that even the daily chores of a husband at home they also beat him. .

To make matters worse, her refusal to seek help erodes any sympathy her mental health issues might otherwise generate.

So what are your options? If Jim continues to refuse therapy, remains depressed, and becomes increasingly unable to fulfill his duties as a househusband, you will be in danger of finding that his impairments will begin to erode your ability to function successfully as a sole breadwinner. , not to mention the ongoing adverse effect on your children.

You considered and rejected leaving Jim because it would leave you as a single parent and adversely affect your ability to support yourself and your children.

However, you are no longer that far from being a single parent, plus you also have the burden of a dysfunctional husband living on your hands.

Would threatening to leave Jim again push him to seek treatment? But to make sure that any threats you make will actually have teeth, you first need to further explore the practicalities of separation and your child custody issue.

Your alternative position is that you can always go back to the Philippines.

all the best,

JAF Baer

Dear Patty:

Thank you very much for your letter.

Of course, and given the complexity of your problem, it is concise and to the point. It is also written by a person who knows how to control his anger, even indignation. This is a wonderful skill when doing your job at work. It’s not necessarily what you need right now.

I can practically hear you seething: This is NOT what I signed up for when I got married! In sickness and in health, yes, but not when that sickness means not lifting a finger to help me and our children! Surely even the most depressed people can clean the house and cook meals?!!?

Your depression is not severe enough to warrant medication, one indication is that you can still discuss the possibility of divorce, for example. If you’re not THAT depressed, it means you can do the bare minimum tasks that being a house husband requires, so why not?!!?

oh patty It’s understandable that you feel that way. Anyone in your situation would probably feel the same way. So acknowledge your anger. Explore what the basis is and what aspects may be unfair. See if you can get it out of you with your therapist, because if not, it will seep into your relationship with Jim.

If you can’t understand your anger, tell him so (but not in a way that increases your anger). Then you’re still taking the first step to good communication: being honest about your true feelings; feelings he probably gets anyway, making him even more depressed.

If you share how you really feel, it may encourage him to explore feelings he didn’t realize he had (is the devastation that he had to accept the American ethos beyond him?) That way, you can to be a team again, with the same goal. goals, instead of licking their wounds instead of opposing sides. This won’t make your depression, or your sadness/frustration, go away, but it might reduce it. Then again, at least you’ll be on the same team and no longer retreating from each other.

It won’t solve everything, but together, you may be able to make better decisions for the family. Not necessarily the bigger ones, which require more time and consideration, like where do we go from here, but definitely the smaller ones, like what can we do tomorrow to make life simpler, less complicated, less walking on eggs for the day .

my best wishes,

MG Holmes


Please send any comments, questions or requests for advice to twopronged@rappler.com.

[Two Pronged]    How do you know if leaving the Philippines is the right move?

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