This was first published on KSL.com
My husband and I have been married for almost 30 years and we are now empty nesters. I thought by now we would be enjoying our relationship more than ever, but that is not the case. He is being treated by our family doctor for some minor depression, but it doesn't seem to be helping and he refuses to see a psychiatrist or even a psychologist. He literally is refusing to do anything and is just unhappy all the time. I am truly at my wits end. I want him to get better and be happy but he seems to want to stay unhappy. Do you have any advice?
I have written other articles addressing depression, so I’m not going to do that in this one. I do highly recommend that anyone suffering from depression get professional help with it. I’m not sure if your husband is battling chemical depression from your letter, but I’m going to assume, in this case, that there are other contributing factors to his unhappiness, things which he could have some control over.
There are three main reasons that people create unhappiness either consciously or subconsciously, which are not related to depression. When someone is not interested in getting help, or is still unhappy after getting help, one of these three causes of unhappiness might also be in play.
Here are the three mains causes of unhappiness (they show up to some degree in everyone):
The truth for most of us is that our unhappiness is self-inflicted.
What I mean is most of the time being unhappy is an option, but it isn’t your only option. You could choose a trusting, peaceful, optimistic happy mindset in this moment if you wanted to. (Obviously I am not talking about chemical depression or times when a loved one dies or other difficult challenges befall you. I am talking about in your normal day-to-day life.)
I learned this truth from studying the work of Viktor Frankl, who survived the Jewish concentration camps in World War II and wrote the book “Man’s Search for Meaning.” He found that even in the most difficult circumstances he had the power (the last of the human freedoms, he called it) to choose his attitude.
I believe this is truth, and understanding this principle is the first step to experiencing or creating more happiness in your life. No matter how bad today is, you have the power to overcome these three causes of unhappiness and choose gratitude, trust, love, optimism and even joy. Here are some suggestions that might help you choose more happiness:
This is a personal decision each person must make by and for themselves in every moment. You cannot push your husband into happiness. He must want it and choose it.
See if he would be open to reading this article and even more importantly see if he would be open to getting some help. Most of us need a little professional guidance to get control of our subconscious programs and change ourselves — but he can do it and you can too.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a coach and speaker.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.