As an active duty military family who has seen many long combat deployments, PTSD has tried to infiltrate our marriage. And it isn’t pretty. While every person who suffers from PTSD have different triggers and reactions, it is a very serious condition that not only affects every day life, but marriage as well. However, we are here to tell you that we have been able to work through PTSD in our marriage and now understand some of what it takes to avoid common PTSD marriage problems.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is condition that is most commonly discussed surrounding our nation’s veterans. Where many of our men and women in uniform do suffer from it, PTSD can also be the result of any difficult, life-changing event. Accidents, abusive relationships and natural disasters may also lead to a lifetime of anxiety and depression as a result of the experience. Knowing how to support your spouse and walk through the difficult times together will help you to overcome PTSD. Here are some tips to avoid common PTSD marriage problems.
6 Tips to Avoid Common PTSD Marriage Problems
1. Seek Professional Support
Seeking a trusted counselor to work with you and your spouse will help you to find tools that will allow you to work through the difficult times and come out stronger. They will be able to advise through anxiety and fear, as well as will warmly help through any feelings of anger and aggression.
2. Overcoming Substance Abuse
There is a difference between having a glass of wine or a beer with dinner and having several a night. Watching for the overuse of alcohol or medication as a coping mechanism for overcoming stress will help your spouse with PTSD not fall into unhealthy habits. Having open conversation about behaviors that you see may help to prevent him/her from substance abuse. It may help if you, together, decide to discontinue having alcoholic beverages in your home. If you decide, together, that substance abuse has become a problem in your home, seeking help may be the best option for overcoming it.
3. Overcoming Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors
Suicidal thoughts and behaviors are not uncommon to people fighting PTSD. Some signs to look for include:
- severe depression
- no sense of purpose
- talking about life after they are gone
- discussion surrounding self-damaging behaviors
- cuts on wrists and/or forearms
When a person with PTSD experiences suicidal thoughts and/or behaviors, the first thing to do in helping them is to remember that it has nothing to do with their love for you and your family. In remembering that, and knowing that these behaviors are instead linked to their inability to get away from the feelings associated with their condition (and wanting to escape from them), you’ll be better-equipped to support your spouse. Reminding him or her of the incredible love that you have for him or her, as well as God’s love and purpose for him/her may help to help reestablish the important role that he/she plays. If your spouse is experiencing suicidal thoughts/behaviors, please also seek the support of a professional.
4. Handling Aggression
As mentioned, there are many things that may lead to the development of PTSD. It may be that your spouse was in an abusive relationship, that they were in a house fire as a child, or that they fought for our country. The cause of the condition may have a result on the behaviors that your partner experiences. One such coping behavior may be aggression. If your spouse becomes agitated and aggressive, remind him or her that you love them and are there for them, but also set clear boundaries about what is okay (and what is not) in his or her approach to you and your family. Go into all that you do in a loving and supporting manner, but also remember that boundaries must be set.
5. Know When It’s Gone Too Far
While we advocate for finding strength through marriage and working together with your spouse through life’s challenges, if your relationship has become abusive, then you owe it to yourself and your family to not allow it to go on. A healthy marriage is the result of a combined effort. If you are not both working to find that strength together, then coming to that realization and moving on may be your only option.
6. Pray Together
Through all of the joys and challenges that we experience in life, it is important to share our thoughts and feelings with God. Praying for your spouse’s wellness of mind and spirit (with him or her) will help you both to remember that life is a journey and that God enables us to overcome the challenges that are put before us.
Do you know other tips to overcome common PTSD marriage problems? Please share your thoughts.