In-Laws with "Depression" Stereotypes

Written by Scott and Heather Copple
Messy Marriage Team Members

Bride & GroomIn-laws can cause all sorts of trouble in a marriage, especially when the married couple allows the intrusion of family. Our family of origin wreaks havoc on our marriage because of the baggage we bring along with us. Now, let the in-laws, themselves, enter the relationship and it can get hurtful, angry and explosive.

My husband’s family has this tendency of telling each other everything. My family is the opposite—we take privacy to a whole new level! Scott and I knew only the ways of our family of origin, so really we are both sort of innocent and guilty.

Scott – 
Early in my relationship with Heather, we were talking with my mom about someone else who had depression. My mom didn’t understand depression and was talking about it in a stereotypical, negative way (all depressed people are nuts and murderers!). I told her that what she believed about depression wasn’t right and informed her that Heather had depression.

Heather –
Scott’s mom had no clue I had depression. She had known me for almost two years by this time, and I just never felt like telling people about it. Only on a need to know basis and … she didn’t need to know.

Scott –
Mom “went stupid” saying very negative and untrue things about depressed people. She didn’t know the truth about it, and I did. I decided to tune her out.

Heather –
It was hard for me to tune her out when she said she didn’t want Scott to marry me. It was upsetting to me when she was worried I would hurt or kill him in one of my depressed episodes. I then started to worry that maybe Scott would reject me because of what she said.

Scott –
This is where “honor your father and mother” does not apply (sarcasm). Sometimes it is just wiser not to follow others. So far, Heather hasn’t lost it or killed me and we have been married for 16 years! Once again, proving my mother doesn’t know it all!

Heather –
It really made me wonder if Scott would turn from me though—because of my issues. It hurt that Scott’s mom didn’t want him to marry me even though she had known me for two years at that point.

Scott –
My mom didn’t know Heather the way I did. I chose Heather and had learned a lot about depression because of her struggle. I knew what I was getting into.

Heather –
Thankfully, Scott’s mom loves me and we can laugh about this now.

Scott –
But she still thinks all depressed people are nuts! Lol!

Heather –
I love my mommy-in-law and we have a wonderful relationship. We drive each other crazy and that’s all part of being a family. But this episode really drove home for me that Scott was choosing to be with me—regardless of my problems or what other people thought. I never again doubted that Scott would have my back when it came to my family or his … and in a marriage that is priceless!

Photo credit by Tashmahal (Flickr)

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  • Super post! So right on, packed with truth!

  • Lol! I have depression, I wonder if my MIL fears I’ll become a murderous lunatic? So true that we need to stand together as a couple and not allow in-laws to cause problems. Great post!

  • messymarriage

    Thanks so much for sharing with such great vulnerability here, Scott and Heather. You’ve given us two very important things to think about–how our in-laws opinions can hurt our spouse and how depression is often misunderstood. I hope that both of these issues would bring light to an important area of married life. Great job!

  • Heather C.

    Thank you! Depression can make a marriage harder but in this instance it helped me to trust Scott so much more.

  • Heather C.

    Thank you very much for your comment!

  • Angela

    I really appreciate this story. I had a similar circumstance with my in-laws. You see, I am in a wheelchair, and, despite the fact that I had lived on my own for 12 years before I met my husband, my father-in-law was convinced that my husband would have to wait on me hand and foot and I would be a burden to him. This has caused some tension, but I love how you ended the story with the fact that your husband chose you – despite what anyone else thought. I definitely need to keep that perspective in mind.

  • Heather C.

    It can be hard when others don’t considered the individual but only look at the stereotypes. Thankfully, God sees the individual and put Scott and I together. I still am amazed and thankful that Scott did choose me. Thank you for sharing your story too!!

    • Thanks Heather and Scott. Another great honest post! It is interesting to look how the stigma of having depression is changing. I didnt know what I had was depression until we had been married several years. I am fortunate my in laws saw my untreated crazy ness and loved me anyway.

  • Alicia Bruxvoort

    Thanks for this story- I have several similar tales from our marriage’s start- what I love here is that you didn’t just give up and write off your in-laws as “hopeless” but you pressed on to find truth and build relationship. I wish I’d done that better in my young married life- am gaining new appreciation for our differences after 19 years as a daughter-in law. The truth is, no matter how they package it- my husband’s family loves me like their own. That’s a gift.

  • Heather C.

    It was a challenging part of our relationship and I am glad we went through it. It really strengthened my bond to Scott. My mommy-in-law after a few years even decided she wanted to offer any help she could when an episode occurs, whether is was to talk or just help take care of me. She is really a treasure to me! Thank you for comment, I appreciate it.

  • Pam A Mueller

    Great story! In law issues can be difficult, so glad to hear Scott cared for you and stood right by you!