Friday, November 27, 2015

Elizabeth Street


How Postpartum Depression Almost Ruined My Marriage

Sep 11, 2013

How Postpartum Depression Almost Ruined My Marriage

In my experience, I've found that relationships are hard work. Whether it's with friends you've had for decades, family members, or your partner, there is a certain amount of elbow grease that goes into keeping things running smoothly after the initial blush of romance has faded. 

I met my husband when I was 23. We got married almost two years after we met and led a pretty blissful life. Before I say more, I need to make a disclaimer: I'm not easy to get along with. I'm demanding, pretty certain that I'm always right, and I like to do what I like to do. Thank goodness that I met a man whose personality complemented mine. My husband is laid-back, genial, and generous with his time, money, and love. Most importantly, my spouse is patient. Hallelujah for that, because his patience was put through the ringer after we had kids. 

Before children, life was smooth sailing. We had dinner when we wanted, we went out on a whim, we traveled to foreign countries, and we could work late if need be. Then our daughter came along.

Our baby was colicky with a capital C and screamed from 5 p.m. until 1 a.m. for two solid months. Rattled was not the way I'd describe my state of mind; rather, I felt more psychotic than anything. I had always dealt with a low level of depression, but once my baby was born, those hormones went to town on my fragile psyche. Rather than treat my postpartum symptoms, I let my anger and sadness simmer all day long, until my husband walked through the door. At that moment, I managed to simultaneously hand our daughter off to him and turn into Medusa. I jokingly describe that my head was replaced with a thousand snakes, and they were all yelling at him. 

We got through that difficult time, and when our son was born two years later, we managed to survive that period as well. But we wouldn't have made it through without marriage counseling. The easy, breezy pre-kids stage of our relationship had given way to an era filled with bickering and resentment, which meant that we needed a professional to step in and mediate. And did she ever.

Thanks to counseling, I learned that I had postpartum depression and that without my career, my anxiety swung into high gear. Since I couldn't take it out on my kids, I took it out on the other person closest to me--my spouse. My husband learned that he has "triggers" and "buffers" and needs to build those time cushions into his day to avoid stress. 

In any case, we came out on the other side stronger and with a better understanding of who we are as people, partners and parents. More than anything, I realized that I'm not always right. In fact, my husband is pretty much always right. 

We aren't the only couple who works at our marriage. Check out the slideshow above for quotes from famous people on how they make their unions work. 

By Christina Anderson

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