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Inner Rage

Question:

My husband has recently begun to see a psychologist. He is a perfectionist, who appears to be walking around with a lot of inner rage. He does not seem violent in any way, to himself or others, but terribly unhappy. He seems unable to find joy in anything, sleeps a great deal, and will suddenly become very distant, quiet, and sad. He tells me the Dr. does not think he is depressed, does not have OCD, just needs to learn to “compartmentalize” his anger. I am totally at a loss as to what I am to do. He says during his bad times I need to just let him “sink”, and to not take it personally. How do I do that? He seems to think this affects only him. How do I get him to understand that this greatly affects me as well? Recently, we took a short vacation, and he was very down the whole time. Teasing, joking, merely commenting on what we saw… nothing worked. I got either polite responses, or none at all. Do therapists give advice to the spouses? Do I try to talk to his Doctor?

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Answer:

Your husband is in a bad place, whether you want to call it anger, or depression or whatever. It is good that he is seeking help for this problem and that a qualified professional will be able to assist. You can try to talk to his doctor – but if the doctor is doing her job properly, she will refuse to speak with you – there are confidentiality issues involved and the doctor would need your husband’s written permission before you could be in the loop. Speak to your husband about your desire to be included before you try to speak with the doctor (if you choose to attempt to speak with the doctor at all).

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p>While your husband’s problem is getting needed attention, the larger marital problem is being ignored. Your distress over how your husband is treating you would seem normal enough. You aren’t asking for too much (at least not as far as I can see from this distant perspective). I recommend that you both seek additional marital therapy with a new counselor who can treat you both as a married couple, and not as individuals. This will be the most expedient way to address the marriage problems which are present. This marital therapy should be in addition to your husband’s already-in-progress therapy for anger/depression/perfectionism. You, as an individual, may benefit additionally by seeking social supports through support groups, friends, clergy and other people you can trust.

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