There are four specific things you can do right now to help your spouse with depression and they may seem to be simple. Just because something seems simple, it doesn’t mean it is easy.

First, your job is to love them no matter what and even if… It isn’t to make sure that they anything.

Let's take the word love and break it down into 4 steps for each of the letters in the word LOVE.

L stands for LISTEN. You have two ears and one mouth. Let's use them in that particular ratio. This is so powerful. Just yesterday, I was meeting with a couple where they both had some things they needed to share. She started to share what was on her mind and he immediately started to speak over her and interrupt her and interject his own thinking and agendas.

She immediately closed right down. Can you picture this? She just shut right down. And then after he wound up a little bit, I asked her again. “Now, tell me again what you were saying?” She started to say… And he again jumped in and started talking right over her. This is a pretty common thing that I see with couples and it's something that makes the depression worse not better.

I think he was honestly trying to help her. I think he was coming from a position of, “Hey, I really want you to do better with your depression.” But it felt to her like criticism. It felt like she wasn't even important.

Now, let's shift that up. If he were to simply listen and zip it for a minute, just listen, that's going to put him in a position to do much more to benefit her. It will also help her a lot with how she feels in their relationship. As you are listening, here's something that will really help with the listening: Drop your agenda even the fact that you want to help your spouse with depression means that you've got an agenda. Do you see how it creates a power differential? It's like I'm here, you're here, you have problems, I can help you. Even if that's true, it's not helpful, if they feel criticized or demeaned or talked down to. Drop the agenda and just realize, ‘Oh, okay. It's not my job to make sure that she is not depressed, or to make sure that he feels good about himself.”

Drop the agendas come at it with an authentic desire to simply listen.

You don't have to fix everything. Sometimes when you are listening, you stop listening and start scheming about the solutions. Put those agendas aside and do everything that you can to simply be there for that person. You listen to them and acknowledge where they are coming from.

One of the most powerful things about a relationship is having someone in your life observe you. Now, think about what this word might mean. In the context of love, L is listen, O is OBSERVE their life. Be there for them.

You are not there to intervene or to fix or correct anything. This sounds almost paradoxical because if you want to help your spouse with depression, that is your agenda and you are coming at it trying to fix them. If you are simply there to observe and acknowledge their life, that tends to be very powerful and affirming to have someone in your life who's actually witnessing it. This is the stuff of poetry. This makes you a much more loving spouse. This is one of the things that can really help with depression.

That leads us to the next letter in love, V, VALIDATE.

The validation is going to happen naturally as you connect in empathy and love. It's so affirming to have someone validate your life, your experience without trying to fix it. Don't tell your spouse how to feel, they are never wrong about how they feel. Did you get that? You are never wrong about how you feel, and neither is your spouse. You are not trying to fix them. Validate their experience. All human beings experience times of sadness or depression or discouragement. To know that or to hear that from your spouse, from the person that you love and chose to spend your life with is so validating and affirming. V, Validate.

Lastly, E is to EMPOWER. Now, this sounds a little counterintuitive to some people because it feels like a depressed spouse is not very empowered. They might even present as helpless or hopeless from your position as a loving spouse. Empower them to find and see and enact their own solutions. This is so much better than imposing something from outside. Usually when we are depressed, we don't have the energy or the gumption or the wherewithal to implement the good ideas that we already have. So, when I say empower for the E in love, part of what we want to do is take down the barriers to their success.

Make it likely that they can do the thing that will help them out. Here's an example: A young mom who is so consumed with taking care of the children on a daily basis… And young children need a lot of care. She doesn't get out of the house much. She doesn't even talk to or interact with adults very much. You are the husband, you come home and see everything that she's dealing with and she's feeling exhausted, right? She already knows that exercise is something that would help her, but she doesn't feel like doing it right now. What kind of barriers can you take down that would help her to actually accomplish what she has already told herself that she wants to do? You could step up and take care of the kids for an hour or two, encouraging her to actually go to the gym if that's what she's wanting to do. You could say, “Hey, honey. I'm going to take care of the dinner and watch the kids for a couple hours. You go get your workout and let's see how you're feeling after that.”

That's just an example, but you can take down the barriers and empower them, the other thing about empowering is withholding our advice, because typically they don't want it. When you give advice to someone that's unsolicited especially, it sounds like criticism. Well, you don't want to be in that position. So, instead draw from them and trust them that they know what they need. Trust them to find their answers.

I remember a time early in our marriage when Vicki was going through some depression. She has shared this on some of our videos on YouTube at Live On Purpose TV. And I and a professional psychologist, I can solve everything, right? Well, that was irritating and annoying her to no end. She is brilliant and she knew what she could do to improve her situation. She just needed to be empowered to do that. And one of the ways that I can do that as a husband is to get out of her way and trust her to find her own answers. This trust tends to be very affirming as well.

Hopefully, you are seeing a little bit of a theme here. With listen, observe, validate and empower. Find ways to do those four things and you will be a factor for positive change in the life of your spouse or any other loved one who might be struggling with depression. Thank you for who you are, for being so conscious and aware and for spreading the message of positivity. If you would like a little more support yourself, jump on a call with one of our coaches. We've got some programs available that are absolutely powerful,