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Helping a Depressed Husband; 'Bratty' Little Boys; Surviving PMS

Oct 27, 1997
Peter Falkenberg Brown

My husband seems to be depressed. He will not do anything around the house except watch television. Our house was built in 1940 and is in need of a lot of maintenance. When I try to call someone to work on projects that he started years ago and never finished, he becomes angry and assures me he will finish them soon. He is always critical of me and constantly complains about his job. The only conversations he initiates are about something negative. We have been married seven years and my once happy, energetic spirit is being killed by this marriage. Any advice will be appreciated.

Certainly your husband's behavior must be a drain on you - as you said, your once happy spirit is being crushed. It's very difficult to analyze the situation without knowing more details, but one question worth asking is, why is he so depressed? Is it something that you can help him with? Perhaps you can resurrect him, and gain a partner that can finally give something back.

If he's willing to listen, and willing to improve the marriage, then seeking counseling is one option. There are also good books that might help both of you. One is Gary Smalley's book, "Making Love Last Forever." It deals with basic communication between husband and wife.

If, on the other hand, he's not willing to take responsibility, you may wish to give him a gentle shake or two, and let him know that he's jeopardizing his marriage. If you have children, it's really important to help him get back on track and restore the marriage - otherwise they'll suffer if you separate. You may also wish to reexamine your own behavior toward your husband. There may be something in you that he is reacting to, which could be improved. (It's worth a look!) Being honest with him, and trying to get him to be honest with you, is the first step toward improving your relationship.

... hope you can help. My 15-month old son, Peter Michael, is an absolutely adorable little boy. He has learned this word, 'No". But he doesn't just say "No" - he says "NEO!!" - very loudly and brattily. He says this word for everything! When Grandma or Grandpa ask for a kiss, it's NEO! Sometimes we'll just be sitting there watching TV and he'll stare at me and shout out NEO! I'll tell him "that's enough, Peter Michael", and he'll repeat it again and again. I am starting to get embarrassed by this and don't know how to control it. I have sat him in the corner, although I don't think he really understood what that was all about, and I have even spanked him and told him, "You don't tell Mommy no!"

Sometimes it's funny or cute, but most of the time it's not. Any advice on how I can control this? Should I ignore him? I don't even know where he learned the word. He is baby-sat all day by Grandma. Please help! He was such a sweet little boy 'til he started doing this. He does it in front of friends and company and I want it to stop! We are also trying to teach him to say 'Please'. When he asks for something, we tell him "Peter say, Please" He will, of course, shout out "NEO!" and of course we give it to him anyway, cuz we are so tired of hearing him yell NEO! Thanks,
Concerned Mommy

The problem with children his age is that they really don't understand language and abstract concepts like etiquette enough. I would suggest gently putting him on your lap and saying things like, "Wow! You can say, NEO!" Just like a kitty! Would you like to try some other words?" And then try teaching him other words that are more palatable. Sometimes distracting children is better than the frontal approach, especially when they're not being particularly horrible -- just noisy.

You can say things like, "Mommy doesn't like THAT word, but Mommy LOVES this word - let's practice!" I don't think that you can get too serious with him at his age, but it is good to reinforce his appreciation for true love and for making Mommy happy. I taught my 3 year old to respond to the question, "Tadin, do you like true love?" with a "Yes." Then I'd ask him, "Why?" I'd then teach him the phrase, "Because... true... love... makes... me... happy!!!" I'd prompt him at each word, and when I'd get to "... makes me...", he'd shout out "happy!!!" and be very proud of himself and smile. Now he really likes that phrase. Positive reinforcement, a.k.a. "distraction", might be the most effective route for you.

Where do you find help when there is an ugly monster (PMS) in the relationship, causing havoc each month? Husband needs support!

PMS certainly is an ugly monster, isn't it? One big way to help is for both the husband and the wife to really become aware that PMS may be the cause of whatever fight or argument that they're having that day. PMS still rears its ugly head in our house once in awhile, but it always helps my wife and I to realize, "Oh, maybe THAT'S it."

Ultimately, though, PMS has to be looked at as an external force that can and must be defeated by the power of trust, communication and true love. If both the husband and the wife are constantly communicating with each other about their thoughts and feelings, and if both are making a daily effort to serve each other, then PMS will have less power. If true unselfish love was less powerful than PMS, then we wouldn't have much hope in life, would we?

Peter Falkenberg Brown is passionate about writing, publishing, public speaking and film. He hopes that someday he can live up to his favorite motto: “Expressing God’s kind and compassionate love in all directions, every second of every day, creates an infinitely expanding sphere of heart.”

~ Deus est auctor amoris et decoris. ~

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