Carolyn Hax is away. The following first appeared Aug. 27, 2006.
DEAR CAROLYN: My fiancee recently postponed our wedding indefinitely. We haven't been fighting but have grown apart. We both work demanding jobs that usually leave us so exhausted that we come home, eat, watch TV and go to sleep. Our finances are such that we live week-to-week and I think that puts more of a strain on her than she will admit. She is very clearly depressed. It's been nine months since she said she needed help, but she just won't take the step to get it. Blaming her job, exhaustion, whatever. I love her, I want to support her. But she is having a profound effect on my own state of mind. It frustrates, depresses and sometimes angers me. We have talked about it several times, she tells me, "On Wednesday I'll call and set an appointment," and then never does. What can I do?
MARYLAND: You haven't been fighting or growing apart. You're broke, tired and engaged to untreated depression.
Call and make an appointment for her. Make it for a time you can leave your demanding job to hold her hand, if that's what she'd like you to do.
There is, of course, a fine line between supporting a partner and dominating her; between showing respect for an illness and disrespect for a fellow adult; between supporting a partner and taking on a dependent.
But in this case, taking charge doesn't cross those lines for three specific reasons: You are close to her; she has identified herself as depressed; and a symptom of depression is an inability to take action. Make the call, hope it's the nudge she needs.
And, then, don't expect miracles. If she is in fact diagnosed with depression, she's fighting with and growing apart from herself. Reversing that process often involves trial and error. Treatments vary, as do people's responses to them — assuming she even agrees to go for help, which is far from a guarantee.
Also not guaranteed is that lifting her gloom will close the distance between you. For one, you lead apparently grueling lives. That might have to change for your relationship to work. And, there could be relationship problems overtaken by, masked by, or even responsible for the depression, problems you'd still need to face when she's better. It's like when your leg falls asleep: It can really hurt when the blood rushes in, but it's still better than being numb.
DEAR CAROLYN: I'm 29, he's 24. We have a wonderful friendship, amazing laughs, similar life goals. But it all ends when he socializes by going to keg parties [Note: 2006, no COVID] and I'm saving to buy a house soon. He thinks I make too big a deal of it, but I miss having a kindred spirit in the same phase of life. Or will this even out at some point?
D.C.: It could even out. It could also end when he throws a house-trashing kegger while you're away. It could go on happily ever after with you working the kegerator in the wet bar of your suburban house. The one way to guarantee it won't end well is to substitute judging, expecting, hoping or assuming for actually seeing. Open your mind, see him, choose.