Does Depression Justify Divorce?

Utter resistance to receiving help can make divorce a necessary evil when one member of the couple is depressed.

 

Dear Rabbi Boteach,

I need to know when enough is enough in a marriage.  Is divorce ever an option when adultery is not the issue?  My husband and I do not even get along anymore, and I am miserable. He won't get a job and is in a constant state of depression. Now he is making me depressed!  Any advice?

--Emily


Dear Emily,

Divorce is the inevitable option when a marriage cannot be fixed. So long as you and your husband are willing to work on the marriage to create progress, then divorce is not an option. But once no progress can be made because one partner or both categorically refuses to work to better the marriage, then divorce becomes an inevitable, necessary evil.

You have to try and inspire your husband out of his lethargy. Your husband has to work, first to support his family, second to earn your respect, third to earn his own self-respect. He sounds like he is rapidly deteriorating. You must try and get through to him before you seek a divorce. Has he been counseled about his depression? Has a competent doctor been consulted? Have you taken a long walk with him or made other overtures to try and get him to talk to you? Until you have done so many times, and observed that he simply will not respond to you, divorce should not be considered. But if he is drowning as a human being and refuses any kind of assistance, and is pulling you down with him, then you have an obligation to rescue yourself from total destruction.

As a child of divorce myself, I hate divorce in every guise. But, like a just war, it is sometimes necessary.

Do your best to lift your husband up. Don’t threaten him with divorce. On the contrary, tell him that you’re his loyal wife. And let’s hope that he’ll come to his senses, pull himself up by his bootstraps, and recharge his life, before he loses life’s greatest blessing, a wife who is a soul mate.

Sincerely,
Rabbi Shmuley


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