Friday, May 04, 2012

One of my Relationship Nightmares: Not As Advertised


I was talking to a girlfriend of mine this week. She sounded awful, exhausted and at the end of her rope. Quickly I knew this wasn't going to be one of those "hi girl, bye girl" conversations. Over the course of the next hour she shared what her life had become and I had to dig deep (I mean DEEP) to find a way to put a positive spin and some upbeat next steps together for her.

Long story short, she met and married a guy over ten years ago. He was tall, good-looking, professional, well-paid, with attainable goals and dreams and best of all, he loved her for her. Fast forward to today. He's still tall and he still loves her. Everything else has gone off the rails. He lost his corporate job (four years ago) at $120k and is doing some customer service work for about $40k and has given up the search for anything better. He's gained about seventy-five pounds. He comes home and instead of helping out around the house, he watches soap operas that he's DVR'd for the day. And he's lost all will to better their circumstances. They have not been intimate in over 6 months. Yesterday the house was almost foreclosed on and they had to call their mothers to help out.  

As you can imagine, this has been hard for her to absorb. She, on the other hand, is still on a successful career track. She has shouldered the extra weight of fiscal responsibility by doing consulting in addition to her full-time gig. She is raising her daughter and his son (from a previous marriage) as best she can with a packed schedule and a heavy heart. Her health is starting to show signs of wear and tear. In short, he's falling off and she's about to fall out.

Now granted, I'm only hearing her side of the story. As she's telling me this, I'm freaking out inside. She did it all the "right" way. She dated him for two years before getting married. She met his family, his friends, his frat brothers. Brother is church going, family oriented, and college educated (not that that's an indicator of ambition). One of my relationship nightmares is that I marry a dude thinking we're both on the same page, headed in the right direction and planning on building a life together and then one day out of the blue he becomes sofa-surfing dude waiting on me to come home and fix his dinner. I. Can. Not. So as she's telling me to make sure I choose wisely all I'm hearing in my head is - there's no prevent defense for this? Is there no early indicator that your upstanding hustling husband is one day going to turn into an ambitionless couch potato? And what's the fix?

BougieLand: Thoughts, comments, insights?

75 comments:

sherants said...

Oh my God this is my worst fear about relationships...I don't think there's a "prevent defense"...since there's no certainty in life and all that...
lol @ I.Can.Not - I feel the same way!  I feel like I would walk away if this were to happen over a long period of time as hard as I imagine that would be.  You can't change him - things change and sometimes you just have to let it go....

MsJamie14 said...

I think this is everyone's nightmare...I know it is for a man if his woman were to gain 75 pounds. LOL

Clearly the loss of his job brought about a depression, one that he's still in. If he hasn't gone to counseling, he should. And if he's gone, he should go back. That drive is still in there somewhere. Perhaps the corporate life is no longer his passion, but something has to be, and perhaps the key to him turning it around is pursuing it.

But I am also a believer that folks won't change until they hit rock bottom, and as long as she's giving him a lifeline for this lifestyle it will continue. She should file for divorce and kick him out. See what will happen when he doesn't have anyone to support him. Sink or swim time, dude. I know many of us want to take our vows seriously, but there shouldn't be "worse" with no chance of getting back to the "better." Him making 40K when he used to make 120K is not a deal breaker, but not helping out and leaving her to shoulder all housework, taking care of the kids and saving the home alone is. What is the point of being married if she has to handle everything solo?

CaliGirlED said...

Wow! Just wow!!! This is a tough one, and it is a REAL one! What do you do when the person you married and love takes a turn for the worse AND it starts to affect the family? Are there warning signs to look for before "I do"? Are there preventative maintenance measures during the "I did"? Is there a fix to avoid "I don't anymore!"?

I'm all ears! *gets out note pad and sits quietly and attentively*

SingLikeSassy said...

This guy sounds like he's suffering from depression though, which is different from a bait and switch. A lot of men have their worth tied up in what they do and how they provide and losing that job may have sent this guy spiraling. I bet if he got counseling and possibly some meds, he would get that old gumption back and step up.

Mo said...

You guys can correct me here(my memory might not serve me right),  I think there is a passage in "Invisible Man" that  make this point- life is  to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in the face of certain defeat. I say all these to say,  one can't live their life in fear because we do not know what the future holds. 

ShawnSoze said...

This is my relationship nightmare too. That the vibrant take care of business woman I marry becomes a soap opera watching, butt on the sofa chick. Isn't this everybody's nightmare. In a situation like this, the only thing I can think to do is page Dr. Jayme. STAT.

PatriciaW said...

I'm no doctor but I've experienced really tough, unexpected life circumstances.  He's depressed, although because he's functioning, he'll never call it that.  He needs help.  I got through with no help, in part because I only realized in retrospect what had happened to me.  But help is available so why suffer another day?

She also needs help to cope with the changes in her circumstances.  I note you say he still loves her, but does she still love him?  I ask this question in the context of, if nothing had changed, would she still love him?  Because she might not feel as though she does, based on the circumstances, but love is not circumstantial.  Too many people fail to realize that.  So she needs help to aid her in coping and in making tweaks to her life that she needs to in order to maintain her health and feel as though she still maintains some degree of control of what probably feels like an out-of-control life.  I'd suggest individual and relationship counseling.  If their pastor is not equipped--and all are not, simply because they are clergy--they should seek someone who is.

JoycelynC said...

As a single never married person, I got nothing.  I too have to admit this is a fear of mine so I'm going to check back and see if Dr. Jamye has an answer later.  

PatriciaW said...

Harsh, MsJamie14.  No one can predict what life will bring nor how they will respond, regardless of how much we like to say "I would never..."   Sometimes life brings you "never".  There's a whole lot of ground they can still cover before she "should file for divorce and kick him out."  You do suggest that he needs counseling, but what's happening hasn't happened just to him.  It's happened to both of them so both of them will need help to cope and put together a realistic action plan for dealing with it.  

Four years sounds like a long time.  Maybe it is, maybe it isn't.  In the course of a 10-year marriage, it's 40%.  In the course of a 50-year marriage, it's 8%.  You don't get to 50 years without weathering some rough times, some rougher than others.  (I'll be 21 years in this year.)

ClayJones said...

Let me do like Chele and put my disclaimer first - I'm not hung up on size. It's not important. I'll love you at size six or a 26.

Now my story - my ex-wife completely shut down. After the two kids, I did not expect her to keep working but I did expect her to put the same passion into our home and our children than she had put into her career. Instead, she quit. She gained about 100 pounds, took to ordering food in nightly. She hired a housekeeper to do the cleaning and a nanny to do the mothering. She quit stirring the cocoa. She quit taking care of herself. Quit mani/peds whatever. Quit getting her hair done. Quite getting dressed even. Her wardrobe consisted of pajamas and sweatsuits. She just quit. And then she was miserable and it was all my fault according to her. After years of this I had to break off the ultimatum - let's get some help, pull it together or I'm gone.

So we had counseling and churchifying and more churchifying and counseling and she started to come back to life. We kept the housekeeper, fired the nanny and rebooted the relationship. But underneath it all she blamed me (for marrying and impregnating her I guess) and our marriage eventually crumbled.

My lesson is that you just don't know. You have to just make your best choice and give it all you've got. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. That's all you can do.

CaliGirlED said...

This happened to my father, but alcohol became his counselor. He did get back to working and rebuilding himself, unfortunately it was after the divorce.

MsJamie14 said...

Sometimes tough love is the only thing that motivates people. I'm not saying she should get divorced, but I'm saying he needs a wake up call. You can call it harsh if you want to, but yeah, I'm the type of chick that might delete every damn soap off the DVR to get some HELP!

And I'm all about team weather the storm. Parents married 35 years, grandparents 65. But they aren't enablers either. Sometimes folks got kicked out. You do what you gotta do to get your point across.

I'm sticking to my comment.

Page Bartlett said...

Eeek! This hurts my feelings. (He's DRV'in soap operas though?)
They need counseling or he's going to sink deeper into depression and she's going to get more and more frustrated.

thinklikeRiley said...

*pours a lil something out for the lost homie*

TrulyPC said...

No guarantees is a hard fear to deal with sometimes.  Been there done that-- although I don't think I handled it well at all!  I would love to see what Dr. Jayme has to say.

blackprofessor said...

I feel for your girlfriend.  This is not a bait and switch, he sounds clinically depressed!  It is time to see a counselor/shrink to come up with a mental health plan for both of them!  They need a plan to help him get over his depression and they both need help coping with these drastic life changes. 

The truth is that no one knows
how they will react to life changes until they confront them. That is unrealistic and impossible. The best we can hope for is the sense to muddle through the curve balls thrown at us and sometimes that isn't a given. 

As far as the bait and switch? That is one of my fears as well!  All I can offer is to screen heavily for similar values and let others size up your potential SO.  I always let the men in my life (father, brothers, male cousins) meet potential SOs and their assessments haven't failed me yet!  

Jennifer said...

agreed to depression... it is hard to think of what you might have 'missed' as a red flag here.  My only thought is you can certainly pay close attention to how they handle life crises past and present.  is the past crisis still talked about like it is fresh?  Did they REALLY do work to get over the baggage or just say its done?
Scary tho... been there, done that. 

blackprofessor said...

 You and I are on the same page! I also think he is depressed but they both need help coping with this situation.

blackprofessor said...

 This happened to a friend of mine as well! His wife quit right after the engagement and it was all downhill after that!  He was devastated after the divorce but eventually pulled it together!

lessie brown said...

I'm gonna chime in with the folks saying he's depressed and needs counseling. 120k to 40k would be a gigantic blow to my ego. It would take some doing to keep me from diving down into a perpetual funk. The type of job he's working is difficult too. Customer service is completely thankless (worked in that area for awhile myself). It did not motivate me to come home and fix dinner and clean. I'm not making excuses for him, I'm just saying, I've been there, and I relate ('course, I was also a single mom in those days. So I fixed dinner and cleaned anyway. But I certainly felt like coming home and staring at a screen all evening). If I'd had someone willing to pick up my slack, I may have fallen into the same pattern.

I understand that the housing market is rough, so I don't know how realistic this is, but I'm wondering if another thing that might help is for them to re-evaluate their expectations? If they can get rid of the house they're in, maybe something smaller and more within their new, limited means would take a load off his shoulders and hers as well. Downsizing doesn't have to mean they've failed. It just means life in 21st Century America has hit them. But if what's really important to them is salvaging their relationship, then hopefully the outward trappings can fall by the wayside until things start looking up for his career again.

I also agree with everyone saying they *both* need counseling. This is a huge life change. It's affecting everyone. They need to make sure they're communicating well and clearly and openly. They're both gonna have to call deep on their courage (thanks to Brene Brown for that one. Google her. She rocks.) and really look inside themselves. Best of luck to them.

invectiva said...

I agree with MsJamie. He needs a wakeup call, stat, because if nothing changes, he probably won't, either.  It may be that the weight gain and the salary differential are not
insurmountable barriers; sometimes a person needs to change goals and direction. However, the disengagement with life, relationship, and
home will never be okay, and he needs to step up and see that. They both need counseling to get through and past this.

Sometimes even if you still love someone, they've overstepped boundaries too many times to ever go back to the goodness that brought you together. This situation doesn't sound good, but here's hoping this hasn't gone so far that that it's too late for for them to rebuild together. Best of luck to your friend.

stop the madness said...

He is depressed. I have been there and done that. Depression is a slippery slope and it will sneak up on you like a thief in the night. One day you will wake up and your whole life is upside down. Your priorities, goals, and entire sense of self shifts. I went into a deep depression in college and I swear I ate pizza and slept in my dorm room for weeks without leaving (I failed every class that semester). The only thing that saved me was hitting rock bottom. Sometimes you have to sink all the way to the bottom to get to the top. 

I don't know if his wife has suggested this yet, but he needs to get his butt to counseling. If not, I don't know what else can really be done. 

CaliGirlED said...

"My lesson is that you just don't know. You have to just make your best choice and give it all you've got."...Agreed! For better or for worse, unless worse starts to make you a monster.

MsJamie14 said...

What's also funny is that I mentioned counseling, I mentioned depression, I mentioned that perhaps he needs to find a passion.

But they thing someone reponded to was the word "divorce" -- funny how that is what got your attention. See what I mean? LOL. Just glossing over everything else til drastic measures are mentioned.

If she's OneChele's friend, I'm sure she's realizes her husband is depressed and needs help. But it's also been 4 years. "End of rope" "foreclosure" "failing health" all serious issues that aren't going to just turn around with "hoping for the best. "

SingLikeSassy said...

"My lesson is that you just don't know. You have to just make your best
choice and give it all you've got. Sometimes it works, sometimes it
doesn't. That's all you can do."

I learned this lesson from my failed marriage too. All you can act on is the information you have in front you at that time.

sherants said...

I have to say I'm in agreement with MsJamie's line of thinking on this one.  Keyword here is "team."  There has to be a limit.  And yes four years of this is a long damn time!  Same thing is happening to a girlfriend of mine - husband lost job and doesn't do anything to help around the house.  She's carrying the financial load and every other load and she's WORN out AND pregnant with their 2nd baby.  When I asked why she hasn't talked to him about this, she says it's complicated because now she has to be careful not to trample on his ego - god forbid that she ask him to do his part in the child rearing and the household chores while being unemployed.  What I'm really wondering is if it's still worth it since he seems to be more of an energy drain than anything else...(he wasn't doing his part even when he was employed)

Monica said...

I don't think one could have seen this coming. You make the best decisions you can with the info you have at the time.

Me and the hubby were just having a conversation last night in which I stated that for many people, their identities are wrapped up in their jobs/careers. When he lost the job his ego took a blow it never seemed to recover from.

Depression is hard, hard, hard to climb out of by yourself, so he needs to seek help NOW. If he refuses to seek help, then I would seriously consider filing for divorce.

MsJamie14 said...

4 years is nothing over the course of a lifetime indeed. But 4 years with no light at the end of that tunnel can be unbearable.

GrownAzzMan said...

That is about all I have for this one too.

GrownAzzMan said...

I don't have a lot of wisdom on this one. Life happens. What has happened to him has sent him into a bad spiral. Counseling may help. They should both go because as others have said this has happened to both. I do know that just this week a 43 year old man who had most of what people would call 'it all' shot himself in the chest.

OneChele said...

Right?! Oh that hurt my feelings. He was one of my exes' best friends. And the nicest guy in the world. You just never know.

KAPSPecial said...

I fully concur with the depression/ get effective help comments. While of course there is no defense to this type of event. I think there are indicators (not foolproof of course) that can give you some level of comfort when choosing a life partner. I prefer someone who has already had some life curve balls thrown at them, been knocked on their butt and have gotten up, learned a lesson and are better for it. 

I've been LIFED. I've had to move into my parents' basement with my fancy degrees in a box and question how the eff did I get here. I didn't stay there, I strategized, hustled, worked hard, prayed, fasted (sometime you gotta put push back the plate)  through my shock, tears, disappointment,  self-imposed embarrassment and shame. I've lost important people in my life through death, ended friendships, etc. And I'm not trying to paint my life as so horrible (I have a good life), but my point is that I've used my bounce back muscles, my I've fallen BUT I MUST get up muscles. Through my life experiences I'm confident that I can get through anything even if when immediately faced with the obstacle I'm not sure how. 

Communication. I've witnessed a number of long-term relationships and marriages and am always surprised about what couples DON'T talk about. There are relationships where folks really don't talk about their feelings, fears, concerns, etc. Like they literally live together and discuss the things that need to get done, what bills need to be paid, who they are meeting for dinner, complain about a boss, friend etc. But not conversations about dissatisfaction on the job, in the bedroom, stressful things, hurtful things the other person might have said.  All kinds of things go un-addressed. I need the type of relationship where we communicate about stuff. I'm not into the strong silent, mysterious mess. No we need to have open and free communication. If we can't tell NOBODY else something I need for me and my  future husband to be able to tell one another.  Even hard conversations about weight gain, hair loss, or whatever impacts us emotionally, physically, psychologically. I also need to know they believe in the benefits and process of counseling. 

blackprofessor said...

I disagree that she realizes that her husband is depressed.  I see this all the time - a lot of people don't recognize the symptoms of depression or any other mental illness! Plus, in our community there is such a negative stigma attached to anything mental health related.  Part of the reason I became a psychologist was because I've lost family members to mental illnesses that were completely treatable.  No one ever did anything so relatives went undiagnosed and untreated for decades until they eventually died. 

I don't assume that folks know what "depression" is because most don't.  I do hope she reads our comments and gets some help fast!

tishatweets said...

Oh.

He is depressed. She might be, too. He has decide if he still wants them. If he doesn't, no counseling in the world can fix that, or motivate him to be what she needs.

'Cause....that's really the bottom line. After all the fussin' and cryin' and "oh I effed up, forgive me" it's really about whether both parties are committed to the work.

Divorce sucks. I wish them well, together or separately.

OSHH said...

ITA and  no matter what we have to stay in the game and run this race til it's over, there are no gaurantees but taxes death and trouble *cue Marvi,n but you cannot live fully or joyfully in a spirit of fear.
Like Jamie said the salary issue isn't the deal breaker, it's pretty much checking out on the wife.
Depression is real but it can be treated. Working out is a great strategy for dealing with depression in addition to therapy/ possible meds but dude has to want to start enjoying life again and being a husband to his wife @ 120k, 40k, 20k, whateva.  Money and/or even careers don't define or make the person.
He is still the leader of his household/fam spiritually and otherwise, he just needs to realize it and reclaim it by being present.

OSHH said...

I agree and when GOD is who you hope in, trust, call on, you cannot help but get up, cause life will knock you down, but you never have to stay down.

ishtar_79 said...

 How awful for her children.

mlisaac said...

I've dealt with a similar situation (it was a long term relationship, though) and have the scars to prove it. When he refused to go to counseling, I went by myself. I made the moves I needed to make shortly after that. I agree with KAPSPecial below; having been through some things in life, I need a partner who knows how to dust himself off and try again, instead of curling up into a ball and relying on me to pick up the slack. Not going down that road again; just thinking of those years makes me tired.

I really feel for this woman; I praise God all the time that I didn't have kids to worry about, too. I wish her luck and hope she'll make the decision to seek counseling, with or without her husband.

ishtar_79 said...

 I agree with EVERYTHING here.  EVERYTHING.  Why?  Because I experienced this with my mom and biological father.  My mother packed our bags and left him in the wind after trying to make things work.  He was in a place that threatened to bring down our family and my mother wasn't having.  He's doing horrible today, while my mother moved, remarried, and is living a wonderful life.  Him, not so much.  I learned from my mother that while the Good Book encourages us to often give more than we get, you cannot give all of you.  Sometimes you really have to put your needs first for your own survival and in the case for the sake of her children if no one else.  What use is she to them or herself with failing health.

Mina B. said...

I think we have to keep into perspective that this is only one side of the story and there might have been things that happened in the past 4 years that could have turned this around. I can't image too many people just doing a genuine Jeckyll and Hyde and just changing their character overnight. 

Besides that I'm siding with the folks saying- do your best to pick the person that has the best traits and then roll with it. Life has no guarantees.I got married young and my husband became ill shortly after and it SUCKED b/c here I was thinking we'd travel the world together and life this fab life but instead I was traveling to doc appointments and being a caregiver. That went on for 4 years and just when he seemed to be getting better he passed away all of a sudden. Life's a real beyotch sometimes. It's not the same situation as this poor lady but my point is you just never know what's going to happen but you can bet it's not what you plan. 

PatriciaW said...

That's why they have to seek help, to get some light.  

Sorry it came across as preaching.  Not intended.  I'm very passionate about marriage and about saving marriages in a time when the divorce rate is way too high.  

Everyone has a different tolerance level.  Not sure what hers is, although she seems close to the end of her rope.  I do know we can always go a bit farther and longer than we think, if we have hope.

PatriciaW said...

She may not realize he's depressed because she's probably also depressed and not realizing it. 

Seems as though my response really pushed your buttons, although that was not my intent.  About his passion not being corporate, not really an issue.  Seems he was fine until he lost his job.  So issue is what's he doing as a result of having lost the job, not whether he's passionate about corporate America.  Most working folks aren't.

I never said she should simply hope for the best.  I said they need help and a realistic action plan.  Funny how you read something that wasn't even in my response.

PatriciaW said...

BTW, I can get with a "wakeup call", although again I think there are ways to do this that precede divorce.  

chriscogmta said...

A lot of cats are saying ol budy is depressed or washed up. I respectfully disagree. Having experienced a lay off from the highest paying job I'd had up to that point, I can feel his pain. Its tough going from trips to vegas with the fellas and flying ya boo out to meet you on business trips in Cali to 40k and customer service.

For a while I lost my mojo and had a difficult time finding it. I wasn't depressed, I was just trying to re-establish and re-define who I was as a man, husband, and father. Trying to redo something that took my entire life to build was hard as hell. If not for some tough love from famiky and friends and a swift kick in the a$$ I would still be searching. No meds are needed for this dude, just the people that love him telling him and encouraging him to do better. I bet his people don't know how bad it is for him cause he fronting but if she loves him and they love him its time for an intervention!!

J_bachelor83 said...

Nice post. Probably one of the biggest (well mine at least) fears of jumping the broom is, "what will this person be like 5, 10, years down the road?" The reality is, you try to make the best, most educated decision you can with choosing your mate and truthfully, what they become is totally up to them. "For better or worse" is something we all have to truly consider before walking that aisle.

MsJamie14 said...

We are definitely on the same page! Just different approaches. I did want to clarify that I don't think they should divorce, but I do want him to realize how serious things are. He's a grown azz man, and they have kids watching this during very fragile years. 4 years is a long time. I 'm glad she' s reaching out for help. You're right, she definitely needs formal counseling as well.

Asada said...

Thank you.
It's called depression and it takes time to climb out of that rut.  Counseling wont help if he aint ready for it , and a divorce sure as heck wont because it only reinforces that his image is all that counts- you know, what he was wrapped up in from the beginning.

M Dot said...

All I can say is I hope he gets the help he needs.

But brother, your woman is STILL there for you after four years of that???    As they say you have a good thing. No, a GREAT thing. Most are bouncing way before that... 

JaymeC said...

Yes he sounds depressed but it's been long enough that he should be actively trying to reverse the slide at this point. Another (more disturbing) possibility is that he wasn't all that ambitious and driven to begin with and once he found somebody to take up the slack, he was too happy to let go of the wheel. It may very well be that the harder she tries to keep him propped up, the less he's inclined to stand on his own two feet. I'd have to talk to both of them to see how they let it go this far for this long.

Either way, this is a relationship that is failing on all sides.  And I feel for all parties involved. Hope they can turn a corner before her health fails or she decides enough is enough. As for the wake-up call many are referring to, I would think having to call your mother and mother-in-law to save your house from foreclosure would be sufficient.  I do hope they both get counseling but he needs to go first.

Cyn said...

I lived this, got the T-shirt, and divorced.  My ex did just enough to keep up appearances and he looked and sounded good until you dug a bit beneath the surface.   He was all too happy to let me shoulder the loud and carry the weight of our world on my shoulders.  

Sometimes folks get off track; they lose their drive and ambition. Or they never really had it to begin with and were faking all along.  I'm all for support and trying my best.  The one thing I've learned is that relationships take two people.  You can give 200% percent all day every day but you cannot and should not carry it alone.  It's gonna ebb and flow, you sometimes give more than you get but if it doesn't balance out more often than not then it's time to cut losses.  If you have done your due diligence and been supportive,  tried counseling, etc and the other person is not willing to do better or be a contributing participant to your marriage then you can walk away knowing you did all that you could.  That's what I did.

Cyn said...

*load

The_A said...

If there is hope, all is not lost. God is so loving and so willing to show out when we are willing to put all our trust in Him.  Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty Zechariah4:6Life has a way of shaking the very foundation of your confidence sometimes in unexpected ways. It is often high achievers with "IT all together" that get thrown the hardest when things get tough because "we" spend so much time beating ourselves up about what we "should be able to" handle, control, & get over. That said, there is nothing in what you have shared that can't be overcome. I am not a counselor or psychologist. I have no idea if he is clinically depressed or even willing to get out of that space. I do work with people facing multiple obstacles or transitions. I would like to offer some help to her - and him if interested. I was told in a meeting today that I have a gift with people who are highly suspicious - even resistant to receiving helped but are in a place where they are saying things like "I don't know how but I've got to break out of this. I can't live like this anymore." I'm not going to plug anything here on your blog - this was a challenge enough for me to post what I have, but I would love to send both of them something fun to do that might help. I'd also be happy to speak with your friend. I will send you an email with my contact information. If they are interested, please let me know. Regardless, I'm sending tons of love to the entire family. I'm a sucker for love & family so I can' t help but pray for them to make it through this time together.

BTW, you sound like you're being a great friend OneChele. She is fortunate to have people in her life that will just listen - even if you can't do much to help in that moment. It's easy to forget how comforting we can be by allowing others to feel like they've been heard.

rozb said...

I wish there was a way to predict what it takes the turn the switch "off".  For instance, you can look for signs of someone having an affair (new hairdo, working out more, staying out at all times of the night), but adversity sneaks up on you. If that person has never weathered storms before, he might not have ever realized he cannot swim when his boat capsizes.

As JaymeC says, he sounds depressed and perhaps no longer in control of his destiny. I have friends who ran into this same problem once they retired from the military, and couldn't find a job that gave them equal or higher pay, let alone even get their foot in the door.

The best thing to do is not try to move a mountain - go through it. What is your talent from which you can get your hustle on? Is his skill set in demand? Perhaps getting back in school and getting a degree or certifications to expand his horizons? Finally, get help. The mental kind. Black folks (I'm assuming your friend is Black) have a hard time seeking therapy for mental illness and distress. Please do it before it's too late - if not for himself, for the kids and his family.

C Nelson said...

Dr Jayme, I love and respect you, but I've got to take exception to part of this. If it's a true major depressive episode, it's not as simple as "he should be actively trying to reverse the slide" -- unfortunately, once you're *in* it, the vast majority of people can't pull out of that by themselves. That's the nature of the beast, and I'm a bit alarmed to hear a mental health professional say something that sounds like it's touting a "bootstraps" philosophy -- it doesn't work that way with depression.

 For all the coping skills and strategies counseling brought me,  and I *am* grateful for them, because they help me self-monitor, when self-monitoring tells me an episode is on the way, I'm at my doctor's office for the Wellbutrin, because otherwise I will slide all the way to a suicide attempt (wherein they will hospitalise me and give me the meds, which is what makes the difference) before it turns around. From inside depression, waking up every morning, breathing in and out, and not harming myself take almost all my energy. There is very little left for even basics of life like showers and eating, let alone making it stop without help, and all the "you should be getting over this" from well-meaning people is just another set of hurdles in my way, *especially* because it becomes another set of clubs for the depression thinking to beat me with, and that's *without* me being a man who might think he "shouldn't" need help or that taking meds is a character flaw.  :(

GammasWorld said...

This is a major depressive episode if I ever lived through one ... oh wait I did (wrote a a couple of blog posts about it too).    I have always been the "bounce back queen" but last Spring life caught up with me and the next thing I know I'm in a outpatient mental health facility with intensive therapy for two weeks and medication.    I didn't even *know* I was in a depressive episode until I broke all the way down at work because I couldn't answer a question.  The  lower paying job struggle is for real.  Yep, lived through that major life change too.  It's not necessarily a matter of dude doesn't have what it takes to weather a storm.  Sometimes emotional storms are like unseen tsunamis reeking all kinds of havoc on your fortitude.  The problem is you can't see the waves until they've knocked your ass flat.  You can read my woes on my blog but let's just say I was DVRing daytime judge shows and saw nothing wrong with that.  I love TV but seriously judge shows?   ALL OF THEM. 

Dude is functioning at the level he's capable of right now.  Not to excuse his behavior at all but he needs some help to get his mojo back.   My guess is he's not exactly open to that (we as a people have *got* to get over the mental illness stereotypes) and thus the situation continues to worsen.   Depression, like alcoholism, drug addiction, or any other illness affects the entire family.   They both need professional help with a counselor who specializes in depression.  

You can do all the right things and *plan* to live "happily ever after" but sometimes that sickness and in health, for richer or poorer vow is seriously tested and there is nothing you can do about it.   Life happens.  For all your planning and prepping it sometimes happens to you.   

Okay I'm off my soap box.   I hope your friend has the wherewithal to lead the family to professional assistance as he's probably just not able to right now.   

Marioned said...

There are no guarantees in life.  No matter how well you followed the rules.    Also, as much as we would all like to believe that we will always be able to rise above all life challenges, but many a strong warrior has fallen.  So all you can do is strive to be the best you can be and pray for  continued blessings.  The vows say for better or worst and this may not even be his worst!  I say  they both get counseling and try to make it work.  And as others have said he could be clinically depressed.   When the mighty fall the reason is a lesson in what is important in life.    She is still blessed in so many  ways. 

You can truly appreciate the sunrise, if you have waited in the darkness..

Marioned said...

Life happens!!!!  clap  clap clap    This right here!!!

CaliGirlED said...

"Life happens.  For all your planning and prepping it sometimes happens to you."....THIS!!! *starts slow clap for Gamma*

Lady4Real said...

I may be a day late and a dollar short but I have to comment. The preventative measure is communication and observation. My hubs and I talk about a lot of "what if's" and "How to's". I learn how to motivate him, I learn how to express my displeasures and vice versa. There will come a time when the vows are truly tested and it helps to have a pre-test, do some studying. My hubs knows that I will ride with him not matter what but we better be on our way somewhere good if we have to ride through something bad. I can go through the desert but we better have an oasis on the horizon. You have to be willing to talk about the ugliness of life and what you would like to happen. Example: No one let's to talk about cheating but truth is one day someone may be tempted, how do we plan on handling the temptation? How do we plan on dealing with an infidelity if it should happen? Everyone get's sick, how do we plan on taking care of each other, how does just the thought of a serious illness make us feel? Conversations like this allow for when things actual happen we can say, "remeber we talked about if this should ever happen what would we do? Well now it's time to execute the plan or make some adjustments to it." You can't plan for everything but you can try to ready yourself as much as possible.

Lady4Real said...

This is everything I was thinking of saying. Life is life, you have to be ready to live it and learn from it. There are couples who don't TALK, there is no communication especially about the HEAVY things. I've noticed that the happily married of 25+ years TALK, maybe even scream but they communicate honey and they make it through. They also KNOW each other, they can tell when their mate is sad without a frown on their face and they notice changes; small changes and talk about them.

Lady4Real said...

Sorry for your loss. Thank you for being their for him through it all. You are beautiful person.

Lady4Real said...

So many people who don't suffer from depression don't really understand the monster that it is. Feeling 'down' and being 'depressed' are two horses of a totally different color and breed. I have suffered from depression since I was 13 years old and it's so difficult to get people to understand that it is an illness, a disabilty that takes a lot of maintenance and strength. On Monday you could think and believe that you are the  most awesome and priceless person on the planet and on Tuesday you could want to die, it's the nature of the beast.

Lady4Real said...

A day late and a dollar short but I have 2cents. I agree with everyone about him being depressed and needing to seek help. I agree that she too needs to seek help and also agree that they both need to seek help together. To answer Chele, a bum is a bum and he can't fake the funk but for so long but an ambitous man who gets hit hard is only human and without the right support he can become a coach potatoe and that is when our love and voes kick in, when we notice our loved one not being who we know them to be it is time for us to speak up and step up. Don't become an enabler; shouldering their responsibilities hoping that one day they will snap out of it. Be their partner; point out the change, come up with a game plan and work through it.

My husband has known me practicially all my life and noticed that I am not the girl/woman is knows and so he addressed it and because of that I am in counseling and getting much needed help. He didn't start shouldering my responsibilites, he sat me down, talked to me and helped me realize that I am in a funk that I need help to work through. When he isn't himself, I talk to him and we work through it what is bothering him and how WE can get through this.

Locs4eva said...

How awful for her..and them overall. Brother must have seriously low confidence/self esteem to have let things that bad. He needs to speak to somebody, a therapist, counsellor to help him see how its affecting all of them, and if he doesn't fix up quick, he's gona lose it all!! This also reminds me that sometimes we're too quick to focus on the good things, the ups and not how well we would act/react in a tough situation. I believe that two people should explore how they may deal with variou scenarios to get a feel of how they're partners would fair up.. as I need a man that is putting effort to overcome our burdens not let them overwhelm him without seeking emotional support if need be.

Wambuig said...

I haven't read what has been said yet but, much as my heart goes out for your home girl this is it! For better or worse till death... it's hard, tough and sad all around but this are scenarios to think about before getting married. Plan B how about down size that way she doesn't have to do a million gigs and in the process put her health in jeopardy. Someone told me when you think about being with someone for the rest of your life think if they were stripped off of everything, material stuff, job, health would you still love them? Am not sure if I missed it but is she still in love with this man? It’s easy to assume she does because of all the sacrifices she’s making but then again maybe she’s doing it out of obligation… It’s scenarios like this that puts things in perspective. Don’t you ever wish you were in someone else’s shoes, because you don’t know what it takes them to walk in this shoes everyday! I hope things better for them.

rikyrah said...

I think therapy is needed for both of them. I think the man is depressed. He was making 6 figures and has tumbled downward...the weight gain is also the sign of depression. I hope they make it through.

no comment said...

I agree he is depressed and he needs counseling and they need counseling as a couple after he gets healthy again.

no comment said...

 On Monday you could think and believe that you are the  most awesome and priceless person on the planet and on Tuesday you could want to die, it's the nature of the beast.
*claps hands* 

The Tall One said...

You can follow all the rules, do all the right things and you still must realize that there are NO GUARANTEES in life. He's depressed and therefore needs therapy and she needs to stop enabling him. They probably have been living over their means while the husband was making decent money and now that the money is gone, they almost lose their home. Guess what, when the well runs dry, you need to downsize, NOT work yourself to almost death, while he's looking at "One life to live" on the couch.They can't sell the house, move into a rental for a while until things get better? If the husband refuses to go into therapy, then yes, your friend will drop dead, but crazily enough, life will go on, as it always does.

Chocl8t said...

Didn't her vows say for better or worse? From the sounds of it this man is suffering through a bad case of depression, your advice to her should be that they seek some counseling. And there are no guarantees is this life. If you want to avoid he possiblities of this scenario...stay single. *shrugs*

Ivory S said...

Wow this situation really does suck. and it sounds like shes taken on a lot maybe he's depressed once the recession hit a lot of people lost their jobs and have had difficulty jumping back in the game now that the market is getting better the competition is stressful and crowded... Sometimes people just feel stuck and maybe he doesn't know how to get out of it.She should talk to him about it, and mention in the least resentful sounding way possible that shes exhausted. She's human and so is he... it sounds like they need to hear each other out and see where they both are mentally. It also sounds like he has a serious case of anhedonia and she's taken over on support and that's definitely overwhelming considering the complete change in circumstances. Maybe through talking about it, they'll be able to identify any problems and move forward, without addressing the situation no steps are being taken for any change. 

Tonda Williams said...

EVERY.SINGLE.WORD.OF.THIS~  Praying and sending love to them both...

CorettaJG said...

Well said Gamma.  I have a girlfriend who went through some things.  Lost her job after very turbulent circumstances, had to move from the East coast to the West in with her mom, had physical symptoms of stress and then was finally diagnosed with a psychotic episode and hospitalized.  I was around for the tail end of it and it was frightening to see.  She's now getting professional assistance, arranging flowers at her mom's house and trying to gain some of her weight back.

I went through my own low period following my divorce.For better or for worse in a marriage is certainly just that.  Love is risky, but I imagine how much stronger they will be on the other side of this.

CorettaJG said...

Indeed!

Nadette said...

It sounds like her husband is clinically depressed. I know we black folk don't like to talk about mental health, and I'm not shrink, but I have been on the cusp of clinical depression twice in my life, and I know what it looks and sounds (and feels) like. It's a deep hole that difficult dig oneself out of, and this family clear needs help.  that's my penny worth of commentary.

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