Price: Applying internal medicine to marriage
In today’s column, I introduce you to the work of Neil Nedley, a doctor practicing in Ardmore, Okla., who specializes in internal medicine. Oh, I can hear the questions already — a column on building healthy marriages venturing into the world of internal medicine? What’s up with that? Well, actually it is Dr. Nedley’s sideline that will be our focus
Over his years in practice, Nedley observed a large percentage of his patients reported experiencing depression, along with their internal problems. He embarked on a pursuit to better understand this very common malady and what he found both shocked and saddened him. Depression, he learned, is about the only ailment that western medicine strives to treat, but not actually cure.
OK, so again, what does this have to do with how we succeed in marriage? Simply this: just about every one of us will be depressed at some times in our lives. Some of us will experience much more serious and debilitating depression than others. And the toll that depression can take on a marriage is huge.
The good news is that this does not necessarily have to be the case. Quoting from his book, "Depression: The Way Out," Nedley states, “Depression is reversible. It does not have to be tolerated as a life-long condition. There is a reason for hope; there is a path to recovery."
Major depression is regarded by many as being the most common mood disorder in our society. I read somewhere that anti-depressants, such as Zoloft or Paxil, are the most widely prescribed medications in our country. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or as Paris Hilton calls it a "rocket surgeon") to realize that depression can have a devastating impact on marriages.
Again, we must differentiate between major depression and the basic form to which all of us are susceptible at times. As I have no medical expertise, I will be focusing solely on the latter and recommend those in the former group seek professional help.
Life is stressful, and we all experience negative events, such as a loss of a job, a cherished possession, a loved one, etc. It is normal for these losses to have an impact on us, and if we’re not careful, we are far too likely to transfer that impact to loved ones who are close by and easy targets. Domestic violence is far too prevalent in our society and whatever the cause it is always wrong.
Remember this: hurting people will hurt people. They don’t have to think about it or plan it, they simply will. If we’re not at our best, we will easily lash out in anger and inflict pain on ones we normally would not want to treat in that manner at all.
And while we may not mean to inflict pain, the damage of such attacks can be severe and lifelong. Again, the very good news is that it does not have to be this way.
Simply calling a time-out and giving yourself time to get out of your emotional brain and back into the thinking part can avoid many hurtful and damaging encounters. This is a learned response and not one that typically occurs naturally.
Along with taking time-outs, you can also learn the root causes of depression and angry outbursts and how to stop them in their proverbial tracks. It might not be easy, but I’ll leave it to you to decide if learning to overcome depression and improving your marriage is worth the effort.
In March, I will begin facilitating Nedley’s eight-part depression recovery program that “reveals the keys to achieving peace of mind and restoring energy, joy and satisfaction to your life.” Along with addressing depression, the program is also helpful in dealing with anxiety, panic attacks and the general sinking thinking that afflicts each one of us from time-to-time.
Can I promise you that as each spouse becomes mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually healthier their marriage will improve? The answer is no, but if I were a betting man I’d sure be willing to place a huge wager on that outcome.
We will be holding a free orientation on Monday, Feb. 29, so folks can learn more about this course and decide if it is right for them. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ron Price is the co-founder and executive director of the Four Corners Coalition for Marriage & Family, a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening and equipping marriages and families in the Four Corners area. He can be reached at 505-327-7870.