Dreading going home after work to an anxious, sad husband.


My husband has recently quit his job over, essentially, a bullying situation with legal implications, and has really struggled with physical and emotional issues (heart issues, panic attacks, etc) related to it. He is doing better, but when he contacts anyone related to that job and hears how things are progressing against him, he has what I call a “bad day”, with low mood, and a “whoa is me” and victim mentality, even when he knows he did nothing wrong. The blinds stay drawn, he doesn’t rise until after 10 am, he misses meetings he may have scheduled, etc. Essentially he acts clinically depressed. I am a pediatrician and like my job, though it is demanding and requires long hours to keep everything going. My problem is this – when he is having a bad day, I find I dread going home. I just want to relax from my long day and not have to deal with more problems. I have tried doing the thought model:
C: He is having a bad day.
T: I dread going home on his bad days
F: Avoidance, apathy when hearing his complaints, mild anxiety about what “new problem” I will hear about, sadness about the whole situation
A: I go home, act standoffish (because if I ask him how he feels I will get the whole negative diatribe), am not interactive; his mood worsens
R: He responds with sadness and frustration that I am not responsive to his desire to talk to me, and I dread going home to that emotional whirlpool.

I am trying to work through this with a new model. The circumstance stays the same, and the result I want is to simply not dread going home and to be able to relax at home without the negativity on these bad days. The feeling I would like is peace and anticipation of relaxation, acceptance of my husband in ANY mood he is in without it dragging my mood down, enjoyment of our time together. The thought and the action to get to these emotional places, however, are not clear to me.

I know I cannot change him, and I do not ask for advice on how to do so. I do recognize that sometimes when I am tired of the victim mentality, I will start coaching him on how he gets to choose how he perceives his life situation, and he gets to decide how he responds, but that never works because he gets frustrated that I don’t commiserate with him in his feelings. He is not the problem. My thoughts about this situation are, and I am struggling to believe something that allows me to support him while not degrading my mood or draining my emotional energy.

Would you be able to suggest some believable thoughts and actions I could try out to help me in this situation? Thank you!