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By Deacon Tom Fogle and JoAnne Fogle | March 2008

She says: I am so depressed, He says: Snap out of it

Karen has been feeling down lately, and doesn’t think she’s getting much support from Kyle.

She says: I am so depressed

Karen says: I am always feeling blue. I know we have everything we need and I’m grateful, but I just feel sad all the time. I try to talk to Kyle about it, but he seems to be impatient rather than supportive. I just don’t know what to do – I want to be happy.

He says: Snap out of it                             

Kyle says: Karen is right – she really doesn’t have anything to be depressed about. We have two great kids, I make enough money to support us pretty well and we’re both healthy. I feel bad for her, but she’s dragging all of us down – why can’t she just snap out of it?

The expert says:

Jo Anne and I believe Karen and Kyle’s situation is more pervasive and typical than any of us may know. Trying to find happiness in material possessions will always leave you with an empty feeling regardless of the amount accumulated. There is an aphorism that says, “The best things in life are not things.” Yet, we see married couples and families continue to accumulate more and more with the idea that having just this one more “thing” will make me happy and at peace. The fantasy dream some people have is that if only I could win the lottery or purchase this one special “thing,” life would be good and I would then be happy! The truth is, there is never enough “stuff” to make me totally happy. St. Augustine once said, “A heart is restless until it rests in the Lord,” meaning we will only find peace and happiness in our lives if we make God our focus. From this brief description we see material wealth, but fail to see any accumulation of spiritual wealth.

We see Kyle and Karen approaching their dilemma using a practical common sense approach, but we don’t see them making what author Robert Kinast would describe as “faith-sense” out of the situation. Unless and until Kyle and Karen can discover God’s hand at work in their lives, they will never be close to being happy or satisfied. When a couple begin to make faith-sense out of life’s ordinary situations and events, that is when their restless hearts will become satisfied. It is amazing that when we start seeing God’s hand working in your daily lives, the weight on our shoulders lessen because we can see the hand of God taking part of the load. It is then that we discover new freedom from life’s excessive and oppressive burdens. If Kyle and Karen could picture a three-legged stool – where one leg is Kyle, a second one is Karen and the third one is Christ – the description becomes clearer. If you remove the Christ-leg, the stool would not support any weight, would be out of balance and would collapse. Put the Christ-leg back on the stool and it will hold more weight than you would think possible. It takes all three legs to get through life’s daily trials and tribulations.

On another level, we see a need for Kyle and Karen to practice their communications skills better. In particular, it appears that Kyle is not a very good listener nor does he understand Karen’s need for support. Additionally, he appears to be insensitive to what may be causing Karen to be sad or depressed. “Snap out of it” only works in fictional movies! Karen may need to get professional help to determine if there are treatment options for her. From our own experience, Jo Anne and I can attest that sadness and depression come in many different sizes, shapes, forms and degrees. What has worked for us is to spend an extra amount of time with each other talking about the past and the future so that we can know how to handle the present. Listening intently with several breaks in the conversation to allow for feedback is critical. This is not an easy task, but it is a crucial task if we are striving for a healthy long-term marriage relationship.