If You Won’t Try Meds To Help Your Marriage, Stop Saying You’d Try Anything
Sometimes, people think that they are really working hard to fix their marriages, but they have a “hard stop” on trying meds. While there are no medications that are designed to improve your relationship, antidepressants help with irritability, apathy, low sex drive, negative worldview, anger, and moodiness. They are also used for anxiety, which includes rigidity, control issues, and obsessional thoughts about the health and safety of your kids. ADHD meds help with focus, drive, attention, and engagement. And hormones like testosterone help both genders with sex drive. If you look at all of those issues, you will likely see many things that your partner wishes you would work on.
Look at the symptoms I listed above across those categories of issues. There are so many people that blame their individual level issues on their relationship, because they don’t want to admit that they actually struggle with depression, anxiety, ADHD, or low levels of hormones. It is a lot easier to blame your spouse and their issues for your own anger, sadness, apathy, or lack of desire, but it is not accurate or fair. There is an interplay between each spouse’s individual issues and the relationship as a whole. These feed on each other and can influence each other positively or negatively.
If you say you’ll do anything to work on your marriage, even including couples counseling, but you will not get an individual assessment for symptoms of anxiety, depression, ADHD or low hormones that could then be treated with medication, then you are certainly not doing everything you could be doing. It would be more honest to say, “I am ashamed and scared of the idea that I might need medication, so I refuse to try it even though it could be transformative for my marriage (and if I’m honest I would hope my spouse would try meds to deal with their issues).” This is harder to say, because it doesn’t make you look as good, but it’s more truthful and could potentially spur you to get outside your comfort zone and reexamine your shame about meds or about having a diagnosable disorder.
I have seen many marriages improve dramatically by one partner trying ADHD meds or antidepressants, and others transformed sexually by the addition of testosterone therapy. This is real. Meds work for many people, in ways that they could not have predicted. In no way am I saying that meds are a panacea or that they work for everyone. Often, there are side effects or treatment resistance in general. I discuss what to do in these cases here and here.
Personally, I have struggled with depression for my whole life, as I mention in those posts and others, and I have tried everything that I recommend, including probably every medication out there currently (some antidepressants are also prescribed for migraines which I have as well and I’m always trying new things for that too). Some worked for a time, some didn’t work at all, and unfortunately as a Highly Sensitive Person I usually get every side effect.
Still, I am always trying new things as they come out, because why not? If meds don’t work, you can stop taking them. If there are side effects, you can stop taking them. You can try other medications or other dosages, and often, the time during which your meds work can tide you over until the weather changes or something good happens in your life or whatever else might jog you out of your most recent episode. Also, many people respond really well.
I know people on antidepressants for years and their lives are much better because of it. Trust me as a therapist, nobody’s child ever grew up and said, “Mom and Dad had a terrible marriage because of her depression and his anger, but the one positive is that they never tried medications that could have helped them! I am so glad I now have lingering emotional issues and need lots of therapy, which is certainly far better than being the child of weak people who tried meds and then gave me a happier home!”
The only down side of trying meds is… you become someone who has taken meds. If being a person who has never taken meds is more important to you than being the best version of yourself for yourself, your partner and your children, then that idea is something that can be addressed in therapy. Your marriage is not the only reason for your depression, ADHD, anxiety, or anything else. Sure, marital issues exacerbate everything, but your own issues also exacerbate your marital issues.
Being in a happier second marriage did not cure my depression. The honeymoon stage with a new partner may give you enough adrenaline and oxytocin to feel temporarily better if you have any disorder, but the underlying issues do not leave. I see this in lots of my clients. A new relationship that is better than a previous one can heal many deeper emotional issues, but it does not permanently alter your brain. I don’t think anyone should divorce without individual therapy and trying any medication that is relevant to what they are diagnosed with. At least this way, you can tell yourself, and one day your kids, that you truly tried everything, and that your ego was not more important than your marriage/kids/partner.
Think deeply about this post and use it to explore some uncomfortable areas of your thought process, including assumptions about what medication use “means” about you, what you were raised to think about people who admit to any issues, and whether you are truly getting outside your comfort zone to work on your relationship. Till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, Openmindedness Is Key To Working On Yourself And Your Marriage.
Order Dr. Rodman Whiten’s books, 52 Emails to Transform Your Marriage and How to Talk to Your Kids about Your Divorce: Healthy, Effective Communication Techniques for Your Changing Family, and listen to The Dr. Psych Mom Show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or anywhere else you listen to podcasts. If you need therapy, check out her online group practice Best Life Behavioral Health.
This blog is not intended as medical advice or diagnosis and should in no way replace consultation with a medical professional. If you try this advice and it does not work for you, you cannot sue me. This is only my opinion, based on my background, training, and experience as a therapist and person.