Beware the Advice of “Marital First Responders”

Bad advice will blind you, good advice will instruct you, excellent advice will enlighten you, and transcendent advice will elevate you.        ~ Matshona Dhliwayo

When you experience problems in your relationship, you might find yourself opening up to others about those problems. While this is probably more true of women, when things get really bad, even guys do it too (admit it!). You might go to friends, family members, co-workers, clergy, hair stylists, bartenders, or others to gripe, vent, seek reassurance, get perspective, or problem-solve (guys mostly on this one). These natural confidantes in your life then serve as “marital first responders.” They’re in the position of helping you do first aid on your relationship. Continue reading

The Male Mode of Depression, Part 4: Where a Man Can Find Help

We have found that once men stop depriving themselves of human connection and instead form authentic relationships with other people, their conventional presenting problems often disappear.   ~ Charlie Donaldson and Randy Flood

In prior articles, we’ve looked at several aspects of the way men typically experience depression. To recap, we’ve looked at how depression is expressed by a man (here), how it develops in a man (here), and what wake-up calls a man might experience that motivate him to get some help (here). Now, we’re finally ready to explore some ways that men can get effective help for their condition. You’ll see that the great majority of these methods involve gaining greater experience, competence, and enjoyment in connecting with other people. Over time, this tends to do the trick, as they say, although it’s not an instant cure. A lot of times, however, men will need to work their way up to these methods due to the last gasp efforts of the internalized Man Code to interfere with the process. Let’s see how this works. Continue reading

The Male Mode of Depression, Part 3: What Causes a Man to Get Help

The cure for covert depression is overt depression.      ~ Terrence Real

In prior articles, we’ve looked at what men’s depression, sometimes called “covert depression,” looks like (here) and where it comes from (here). Given that men typically hide their depressed feelings (overt depression) from themselves and others (hence, “covert), it takes a bit of doing for them to come to a place where they seek help. Most often, men don’t seek help without a major “wake-up call” in their life. This is much like (or the same as) when an addict hits “rock bottom” and admits they are powerless over what’s happening in their life. The word “powerless” describes a condition in which few men want to find themselves. Let’s take a look at some of the situations that push men into this condition. Let’s also look at how to speed things along (a good thing; really!). Continue reading

The Male Mode of Depression, Part 2: Where It Comes From

The three most destructive words that every man receives when he’s a boy is when he’s told to “be a man.”         ~ Joe Ehrmann

In part 1 of this series of articles (here), we found out what male depression looks like. I started there because I wanted you to know what we’re talking about and to have an idea of how it differs from so-called “clinical depression.” Armed with that knowledge, we’re now ready to explore how men get that way. If we know that, then maybe someday preventative measures can be put into place. In the meantime, let’s start our exploration by picturing a young boy standing in front of his father, step-father, brother, uncle, grandfather, coach, male teacher, priest, minister, or any other significant male figure in his life. Picture him hearing, over and over again, the words, “Be a man.” Continue reading

The Male Mode of Depression, Part 1: What It Looks Like

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.     ~ Henry David Thoreau

The official diagnostic criteria* for depression include such symptoms as a sad mood, loss of interest in things, loss of energy, difficulty concentrating, and so on. These symptoms are pretty obvious, so we might say that someone who has them is “overtly” depressed. Further, it’s interesting to note that statistics show at least twice as many women get diagnosed with depression as do men. Does that mean that women are more depressed than men or is there something else going on here? We’ll see that it’s not so obvious when most men are depressed, thus the term “covert” depression gets applied informally. What does this male mode of covert depression look like? What makes it “covert?” Let’s find out! Continue reading

How to Ruin a Perfectly Good Relationship Using Self-Justification

I yam what I yam. ~ Popeye the Sailor Man

Your relationship started out great. You were crazy in love, wanting to spend as much time together as possible. Your partner was perfect, couldn’t do anything wrong, made you feel terrific! And now? They drive you crazy! At some point, the reality of your partner set in. You noticed some things that didn’t sit well with you and you mentioned them to your partner. All you got back were justifications for why they were right and (even worse) why you were wrong. Now, they don’t listen anymore. They don’t care what you think. How did you get here? What happened? Can we please go back to the way we were (you say)? Let’s look at what happened and whether your relationship can return to it’s former glory. Continue reading

The Tragedy of the Walkaway Wife and the Too-Late-Woke Husband

Why didn’t you tell me you were this unhappy?” asks the Too-Late-Woke Husband to the back of his wife’s head as she walks out the door rolling her eyes.

This article is aimed at all you clueless husbands. Also, severely discontented wives might find it interesting to conspicuously leave a copy around the house before they finally give up on their relationship. The idea here is to wake you (the husband) up to the reality of your wife’s negative feelings about you and your marriage before it’s way too late. Many a husband doesn’t get “woke” (as the kids say these days) until they watch their long-suffering wife walk out the door with suitcases in her hands. They have now become a “woke” husband, realizing that their wife really means business. Continue reading