Do you or your spouse get the blues? I (Ben) have a long history of the blues and occasionally they still creep in on me. Monica also has her spells.
The blues are not always easy to handle for the spouse. Seeing your other half downtrodden and sad creates an uneasiness in you. You desperately want the other person to feel better 1) because you love them and don’t want them to hurt, and 2) because it is hard for you to be at your best when your partner is down.
We’ve found, though, that the solution to this problem is not for the non-bluesy spouse to do whatever possible to make the other happy. It seems counter-intuitive, but the better solution for us is to allow the other to have their blues with minimal interference.
Trying to pull the other one out of the blues is like stopping a symphony in the second movement because it sounds too sad or too slow. If you stop it you’ll never get to the dance of the third movement or the exciting conclusion of the fourth.
When we try to interfere with each other’s blues it is quite predictable what will happen. The non-bluesy partner will go to great lengths to pull the other out of the depths, and when it works, the non-bluesy partner is now tired, sad, and, well, bluesy. It’s like we simply transfer the blues. So, we don’t do this anymore. We have a better way.
For instance, the last few days have been really low for me. I know enough about myself to realize it will take me a few days to a week to snap out of this. Monica knows this as well and puts up little resistance to it. She told me this morning I look sad and then we sat in silence for the 15 minute drive to work. These are the most caring, helpful things she can do for me.
What’s important here is she’s not cutting off from me. She’s observing and giving me space. She sent me a cute email about how she is excited to hear my newest ideas when I feel better. She doesn’t go away, and she also doesn’t crowd me. She’s in the perfect position to keep herself healthy and allow the blues to run their course.
We have weathered many storms this way because we’re willing to put up with the slow, sad music so we can get to the dance!