It’s fairly common for one or both spouses in a marriage to change over the course of a lifetime together. It’s not that common, though, for a spouse to think something is wrong with their partner because he or she is behaving so differently.
But for one anonymous husband, that seems to be the case.
In a written plea published this week in The Denver Post’s “Ask Amy,” the married advice-seeker told Amy his wife is now suffering severe mood swings so much so that it’s affecting their family:
I don’t know what do to anymore. My wife of 16 years, whom I love dearly, is not the same person I married. She is prone to mood swings and goes off on our two children or myself at any moment over the smallest things.
Just when I think that things are improving, another episode occurs that sets our lives back.
He wrote that he has, in fact, spoken to her about her episodes, but she has yet to take any measures:
She has admitted that she’s in a rut. I suggested she go talk to a counselor — but nothing. I suggested we go together to counseling — again, nothing.
In addition, he’s apprehensive to approach her friends about it because he’s scared she’ll react poorly:
When I try to diligently bring up these concerns, it leads to an argument and no resolution. I’m afraid to ask one of her friends to address this with her for fear of the backlash that could come from it.
And, sadly, he signed off under the pen name “Helpless.”
Before suggesting a therapist or even meditation, Amy made it clear the woman could very well be suffering from a medical issue, writing:
Your wife should see her physician and have a thorough checkup. Any number of medical issues might be contributing to her intense mood swings. In particular, she should have her thyroid checked.
Although one could blame a number of things on someone’s mood swings — namely menstrual changes or outside stress — Amy was quick to point out that there are very serious health problems which could be causing the mood swings, as well.
Aside from a potential thyroid issue, there can be a number of things wrong such as undiagnosed ADHD, bipolar disorder, medication side effects, a head injury, a brain tumor or abnormality, menopause, or untreated depression.
Of course, that’s not to say the woman’s mood swings might not just be from stress and/or lack of sleep; however, there is an inherent risk of the husband letting his wife go unchecked by a doctor.
Amy also advised the man to get his wife’s health in line for their children’s sake, writing:
Your children should not pay the price for your wife’s disordered and unstable behavior. Please do everything possible to protect them from rages. You should ask her to leave the room (or you should take the children elsewhere) until she is calm.
And she wrote that it might be better to address the matter when he and his wife are doing well — rather than bringing up the problem in the midst of her mood swings:
Instead of asking her to see a therapist during (or just after) an episode, you should talk about it when she is stable. Note the impact this is having on your family, and support her in getting help.
Lastly, Amy did offer some light advice the husband can use to work with his wife in the meantime:
A therapist might counsel her to pay close attention to various signals her body sends just before a serious and sudden change in mood. Meditation and/or deep breathing might help her to regulate. She should look at her stressors or triggers; perhaps you can help her make changes in her life so she won’t feel so overwhelmed.
The “helpless” spouse is clearly at his wit’s end when it comes to his wife’s recent behavior. But Amy’s advice reminds readers that the safety of one’s children and the health of one’s spouse should always come first — even if it means getting in a fight.