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Depression vs. Romance

My wife lacks confidence and seems depressed.

(this is raw unedited text, computer transcribed directly from the audio, without voice inflection, pauses etc. Sometimes this results in the text implying the opposite of the intended meaning.)

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The Selfish Path to Romance - download chapter one for free at Dr or at

Greg, you have a question about your wife who lacks some confidence.

Yeah, it seems to be. That's an understatement. I think okay, married 12 years. Okay, and I have three jobs and I've pretty much always had three jobs. Yeah, I always work constantly and not not because I make a lot of money but just barely enough to survive, okay, you know, almost a subsistence really, but, you know, I don't know, I don't know how to do anything else. So I just work all the time. And my wife doesn't have any energy at all. Okay, she just sat around for 12 years and basically does nothing the house is always in the house is a disaster in the simplest little things never get done, the clothes are piled up, never taught the kids, you know, my oldest kids tend to get 10, nine and seven. Okay, she blames it One of them's the autistic and goes this special school and everything. So it doesn't make it a little harder to understand. You know, she's very overweight, you know, she does not another never gets done, you know, the kids can't even ride bikes, you know, because she just doesn't go out. And all I got is two hours a day between my routes, you know, to be home. Yeah. And the rest time, I'm always gotten because I have to be.

So it doesn't feel like you're a team together, that she's that there's a happy division of labor, which she's a happy mom, and she's engaged with the kids and enjoying it and enjoying growing their minds. Instead, it sounds almost like she's trapped for 12 years, she's been in jail with three kids. And she has no motivation. It's not her it value to clean up the house. And you're not around so she doesn't have that romantic connection or the support that she might like, and she's just let herself eat.

Absolutely. And see No, no, she won't learn to drive. But she never leaves the house.

Oh, man. Okay. And so she's in terms of being a role model for the kids. That's tough to? Absolutely, yeah. What would you like some help with? How can I help you?

I don't know. Is there? Is it just encouragement only is it. I mean, I know she's got health issues. diabetics are early this year. You know, I understand that. It's hard. But you know, I've got health issues too. But as a guy, I just plow through them. And, you know, and they don't stall me, you know, I just do what I have to do. But she's, she's, they're, they're a complete block.

So she's not valuing her life. And she's not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, she's not seeing wish she could take better care of herself wish she could lose some weight, wish she could give herself a purpose in life. That gives her a sense of wanting to get up in the morning and to not be depressed, to be more energized. And to talk with you about the you know, they talk about the elephant in the middle of the room with most couples, there are issues that are really important to both partners. And yet, they're both so afraid to bring up the issues whether it has to do with intimacy or sharing time with the kids, or not feeling cherished or cared for, which typically happens in long term relationships. So what are your alternatives Greg? What have you thought about?

Hey, I gotta interrupt this because we've got to pay some bills. 30 seconds. That's it. A very quick break and then Ellen will be back.

Romance. Oh, I wish guys knew more about what we want from a relationship. Boy, I wish I knew more about what I want. Where's that ad I saw? Here it is The Selfish Path to Romance - a serious romance guidebook. Download chapter one for free at and buy it at Hmm, The Selfish Path to Romance. That IS interesting.

What are your alternatives? Greg, what have you thought about?

Well, you know, I'd like to, I'd like to be more I'd like to encourage or, you know, maybe be more romantic or whatever it is that I'm not that she needs? Yeah, I'd like to be that. But also, I don't feel it a lot of times because in the little bits of time I have all I do is just kind of find myself complaining about the disaster. And I come into home every day and I'm like what I do, okay? And so I don't feel the the connection that I want to feel and I want to I want to try to get rid of that feeling and encourage her and be what she needs, but I just don't have it.

Right so you're both stuck. If you're not, are you looking to get divorced at all? You have not mentioned it.

No, I'm not gonna do that. I don't believe in that. Okay, so technically, she doesn't either. I mean, those do sometimes still try to say that as a threat or something, yeah. But then she recovers, says, you know, I wouldn't ever do that or whatever. But we're not gonna do that.

you both have a right to your own life and your own happiness. And if you, you have that option, and both of you are choosing not to so given that you both are on the same page, they're the alternative is either more of the same. And usually the same gets worse over time, which you know, you know, it doesn't get better, she doesn't start losing weight, the house doesn't get cleaner, you don't make more time for one another. It's usually gets worse. It's, you know, it's not a stable flat line, it goes down. Or you can both focus on doing things differently. If you know the pattern you're in now is that you come home at the end of the day and say, Oh, come on, couldn't you have folded the clothes, couldn't have clean the dishes? Come on, take a little better care of yourself. And she looks at you. What do you think goes through her mind if she hears that?

Yeah, I mean, I think she just, I don't know.

There he goes, again, I can't believe it. Here we go. And he works all day expects me to do this is no appreciation. Man, I've got an autistic kid, I've got three kids. And all it is is drudgery. I mean, there's nothing to my life except for eating Leave me alone, get off my back. And if this is just the way my life is, I can't do anything about it.

Okay, so what you want to do is to look at it differently. The pattern you're currently working is not the pattern that you're currently using will give you just more of the same both of you are trapped and unhappy. If you want to start to warm things up. What if you came home and noticed one thing that she did? What if you started to remember some of the things that you've loved about her in the past? She's not the same winner she's let herself change a bit. What if you it became more of a mutual admiration society? Little by little, you can't fake it over time. And could you get therapy, I know you said you don't have a lot of money. I don't know if it's covered by your insurance. But if you could get couples therapy that would be good. Short of couples therapy or in addition, I would say in addition, I've written a book on romance with another author that explains why what you're talking about is so hard for couples and how to retrieve it if both of you want to do that. The book I wrote with Dr. Ed Locke, you can jot it down. If you don't have a you don't have a paper in front of you. You can Okay. It's called The Selfish Path to Romance, how to love with passion and reason. And it's by Edwin Lockee loc Ke and Ellen Kenner and when we talk about self you want your wife to value herself more Greg and you want to value yourself and you want that your kids to value themselves so we don't mean selfish in the mean rotten. Take advantage of your sense we mean it in the self esteem self nurturing and valuing the people in your life sense. So I would start with the book. And if you can get couples therapy to you can learn new coping skills. Thank you so much for the call.

And here's a little more from Dr. Kenner . . .

From TV Show . . .
I don't know when I've enjoyed an exhibit more. The artists choice to make that still life and monochrome was a stroke of genius conveyed such despair. Yes, it was so refreshing to see a sad peach.

And have you ever gone to an art museum or maybe into maybe into someone's home? And they show you they have a picture hanging on their wall? Or you look at a picture in the museum and you send my God, my three year old could have done better than this? Or are you kidding, somebody framed this or someone paid for this? And then you get the person who comes along and says, Oh my god, doesn't that resonate? Well, I went to the Guggenheim Museum, Oh, this must have been a decade or so ago. And I had an interesting experience. I was walking on. I was in a tour group. And we were walking looking at each picture and the guide would tell us this is and he would go into some elaboration about some smashed up bumpers, you know bumpers from a car that were painted pink, or he would go into a big elaboration about one streak across a blank canvas or at some splatters on another. And there was one woman in the group who was amazing to watch. I think the whole thing is nonsense. And she's saying, Oh, I see what you mean. Oh yes, this is so deep. Oh, wow, this is incredible. She would just mirror anything that the tour guide said. And I thought How sad. She's not allowing herself to think for herself. And it's very obvious that this is stuff. This is the stuff for suckers. So, if you feel yourself needing to say that you like a painting or an artwork, or perhaps it's a movie that you see and you don't like it, but everyone else in your group seems to like it. You want to have the courage give yourself the courage to say I see it differently, even if you don't want to go into all the details of what you see differently and why you may need to buy some time to think that through. At least be true to yourself and say what you genuinely think.

For more Dr. Kenner podcasts go to And please listen to this ad . . .

Here's an excerpt from The Selfish Path to Romance the serious romance guidebook by clinical psychologist Dr. Ellen Kenner and co author Dr. Edwin Locke, who is world famous for his theories on goal setting . . .

One romance killer is when one or both partners are too often in a bad mood. Sometimes the causes are obvious. Often they're hidden, hidden issues. Psychological orders aside typically center around one of two things or both. My partner doesn't understand me or my partner doesn't value me. Establishing a positive relationship environment presupposes communicating, identifying and resolving these issues. If you can succeed in this create and maintain a positive climate daily, not just in terms of important issues, but also in many small ways. A song from the 1950s says little things mean a lot small gestures like a hug and wishing your partner a good day at work and later asking how the day went may seem simple, but they make both of you feel valued by the other.

You can download chapter one for free by going to, and you can buy The Selfish Path to Romance at