We’re delighted to have Dave & Liz Percival from 2-in-2-1 guest blogging for us this month.
As Liz and I went on our morning walk today I was struck by how two people who share a very close lifestyle can still focus on quite different things, and experience life quite differently.
I walked along dreaming up a new project—how to get the local young people motivated to move a quarter tonne bell from a local church to the centre of Africa! (Don’t ask—it would take me a while to explain!) Liz meanwhile was sharing her worries about the latest twists and turns in the Pandemic, and the wide range of findings coming from scientific research. My thoughts energised me; hers clearly were weighing her down. Mine were about opportunity and things we could do; hers were about risks and things we couldn’t do.
I was intrigued therefore when I came across the new report “Understanding Depression”. The report argues that depression is best thought of as an experience, or a set of experiences, rather than as a disease—and being an “experience” it can be thought of as part of life, rather than something to be fought. Of course, there are aspects of depression that are medical in nature, just as there are parts of life, but it isn’t just medical.
The report highlights a variety of external factors that are more likely to be associated with depression (deprivation, poverty, etc.) and a number of protective factors. Relationships can fall into both camps.
“When people experience depression, their relationships are often affected. Two things stand out. Firstly, the quality of the relationships the person has with themselves, for example how self-critical or compassionate they are towards themselves. Second is the quality of relationships the person has with others, whether they experience support and connectedness or the opposite. Stressful or abusive relationships can contribute to becoming depressed, but once a person is depressed, any or all of their relationships can suffer because they have less capacity to appreciate and cope with other people.”(Understanding Depression, p17)
For Liz and I life is a journey—a journey we have decided, even promised, to make together. And we have to accept that there will be times when life is depressing. The key is that our relationship is supportive and connected—such a relationship counteracts depression.
The natural reaction when faced with someone who is seeing all of life’s problems and risks is to draw back, to protect oneself. The decision that sits at the centre of marriage however is to support and engage—to risk self for the good of the other and the good of the relationship—to share the tough bits of life’s journey as well as the fun bits.
The vows that underpin marriage are not just mere words, they are words we have to put into action every day. Some people see them as “ties that bind”—others see them as the strong cords that enable us to stay strong even when depression seeks to tip our spouse over the edge.
Marriage is an antidepressant!
Dave & Liz run 2-in-2-1, a hub for marriage support. They are avid supporters of Time for Marriage and are part of our Council of Reference. They are also involved with Marriage Encounter and on advisory panels for many other marriage initiatives.