Saturday, January 23, 2016

My Husband Is Not Happy

Dear Deedra,

My husband is always down and I do not know how to help him.

I enjoy life. I love to talk about all kinds of things. I get really excited about stuff. He listens to me talk but he does not get excited about hardly anything and rarely talks. I always ask him what is wrong and he always says, "Nothing."  I keep asking him and he gets irritated.

I do not know what to do to help him.

Frustrated Wife

Dear Frustrated Wife:

The question is whether your husband is really down, as in depressed, or just reacting differently than you.

Obviously, if he is actually depressed I am not the one to ask. Professional advice would be better.  It is often difficult to get people, especially men, to agree to counseling or other professional services. If that is the case, you might want to explore some books written for family members of depressed people to get tips on how you could interact with him in more helpful ways. However, there is no way for you to "fix" him, he has to want to help, or seek help, himself.

On the other hand, I would suggest he might not be depressed at all - making the problem that you are trying to "fix" something that is not broken.

While women and men are equal, they are not the same by any stretch of the imagination.  The way they see the world, interact with the world, process information, is different than women (generally).

Men are rarely overly excitable and talkative (in general). That does not mean they are not excited about things. Social and cultural upbringing could contribute to this [boys don't cry, boys are not emotional, boys are strong], but it is also true that men spend a lot of time "in their heads" processing the world around them.

If you ask him if something is wrong and he says, "No," believe him.

Unlike women, men do not "test" others by saying nothing is wrong, when something is wrong, to see if the other person will "care" enough to keep asking.

Men are fairly straight-forward. If they say nothing is wrong, either nothing is wrong or there is nothing wrong that they want to share. It is usually the former.

If you keep asking him, he will get irritated because you are basically saying he is lying. You are not trusting him. Trust is the most important thing a man wants from a woman. 

If something is wrong, he may still be processing it and will start a conversation about it once he completes the processing - if the processing actually calls for a discussion. Many times his processing concludes there is no reason to talk about it. He may simply be distracted because he working out how to rearrange the cables behind the television, which requires no discussion but lots of thought.

You sound like a happy person that enjoys life. It might surprise you to learn your husband may actually enjoy that about you - even if he is not joining you in showing it like you assume he should.

Be thankful you feel like he listens - many women do not have that feeling.

Stop overanalyzing him. Men are way less complicated - which makes them seem more complicated to women only because we do not understand their simplicity.

Take what he says at face value. Men, other than politicians, rarely speak in riddles.

Deedra is originally from Arkansas; an attorney in Scottsdale, Arizona; a diversity expert and Keynote speaker for The Ambassador Project; and has a blog at where she shares her perspectives based on questions and experiences. Follow Deedra on Twitter @askdeedra

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