DEAR ABBY: I am an educated middle-aged woman who has not worked outside the home since my first child was born 12 years ago. My husband, "Jack," is a respected physician who makes a good living. We have two daughters, ages 11 and 9. Jack loves the girls and tries to make time for them in his busy work schedule. His career is demanding. Over the years it has taken more and more from him in terms of time, energy and emotions, which is why I have chosen to be at home. Jack has given up many of the things he used to do for fun and relaxation because he is tired all the time.
My husband has become an angry, depressed man. He manages to hide it at work and functions very well. But when he is home, he is controlling and complains constantly.
I have repeatedly asked him to see a therapist and consider taking an anti-depressant, but he absolutely refuses to do either. He says he can manage his problems. He can't. His constant criticism has killed any feelings I had for him. I am not interested in his thoughts or opinions, and I'm certainly not interested in having sex with him, which I do to keep the peace.
Jack says he is happy with me and doesn't want another wife. I am NOT happy with him and I don't want another husband. It's too much work!
If we didn't have children I would leave. But how can I take my daughters away from their father? If I left him, I wouldn't know what to do to support myself since I no longer have any marketable skills. I'm afraid he'd be so angry he would leave me financially destitute.
Abby, I'm stuck. I don't know what to do. -- TIRED OF IT ALL
DEAR TIRED: Leaving isn't an option. Your husband needs you. You have described symptoms of chronic depression, and your husband needs professional help. Although it hasn't yet affected his work, if it continues, it will.
Try again to convince him to get the help he needs. Remind him of how things used to be between the two of you before he became self-protective and defensive. Do not be confrontational. Tell him you love him. Remind him how important he is to his daughters, that as a family you need his support, not his criticism.
If that has no effect, talk to one of his close and trusted colleagues, preferably one who is trained in mental health disorders, about the change in his behavior. Depression is an illness, and he or she may be able to convince him, in a way you can't, to get help.
Medication and counseling do wonders in the treatment of depression. The sooner it is treated, the faster the patient (or doctor) gets better.