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When Your Spouse Has Ptsd

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Helping Your Spouse With PTSD

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How To Build A Healthy Relationship With Someone Who Has Ptsd

Though it may be challenging at times, it is totally possible to create a healthy relationship with someone who has PTSD. The key is understanding, clear communication, and compassion, says Douglas.

First and foremost, you should set up times throughout the week to check-in with each other. You can ask questions like: “How are you feeling?” and “Is there anything you want to bring up or address that happened this week?” since communication is key in navigating any type of relationship.

It is also beneficial to establish a healthy routinemaybe by cooking, cleaning, and/or eating together, says Beecroft. Structure and routines help provide a sense of safety and security. Minimizing stress also allows for your partner to be in a relaxing environment where self-care can be embraced.

Dating someone with PTSD may also require you to be patient and flexible. For example, sometimes people with PTSD may need to alter plans, especially if they’re triggered and having a hard day, says Fraga.

In general though, just be a loving partner: Offer to provide space when they need it, avoid giving advice or feedback that they didnt ask for it, and don’t minimize their feelings or tell them how they should feel,” says therapist Patrice N. Douglas, PsyD.

Living With Someone Who Has Ptsd

When a partner, friend, or family member has post-traumatic stress disorder it affects you, too. PTSD isnt easy to live with and it can take a heavy toll on relationships and family life. You may be hurt by your loved ones distance and moodiness or struggling to understand their behaviorwhy they are less affectionate and more volatile. You may feel like youre walking on eggshells or living with a stranger. You may also have to take on a bigger share of household tasks and deal with the frustration of a loved one who wont open up. The symptoms of PTSD can even lead to job loss, substance abuse, and other problems that affect the whole family.

Its hard not to take the symptoms of PTSD personally, but its important to remember that a person with PTSD may not always have control over their behavior. Your loved ones nervous system is stuck in a state of constant alert, making them continually feel vulnerable and unsafe, or having to relive the traumatic experience over and over. This can lead to anger, irritability, depression, mistrust, and other PTSD symptoms that your loved one cant simply choose to turn off.

With the right support from you and other family and friends, though, your loved ones nervous system can become unstuck. With these tips, you can help them to finally move on from the traumatic event and enable your life together to return to normal.

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About Living Someone With Ptsd

When you really love your spouse or partner, youll doubtless take on the mantle of carer.

In many ways, that can potentially be a beautiful role to take on. To be there for a loved one when theyre most in need calls for you to dig deep. Youll discover resources you didnt realise you had.

Whether its continuing to love and live with someone with PTSD or deciding you want a divorce I know youre going through a really tough time right now.

Whatever life looks like for you now, I hope that you may, together or alone, find peace and happiness. Im rooting for you.

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Communication Pitfalls To Avoid

Spouse Confessions I Was Abused and Now I Have PTSD ...
  • Give easy answers or blithely tell your loved one everything is going to be okay.
  • Stop your loved one from talking about their feelings or fears.
  • Offer unsolicited advice or tell your loved one what they should do.
  • Blame all of your relationship or family problems on your loved ones PTSD.
  • Invalidate, minimize, or deny your loved ones traumatic experience
  • Give ultimatums or make threats or demands.
  • Make your loved one feel weak because they arent coping as well as others.
  • Tell your loved one they were lucky it wasnt worse.
  • Take over with your own personal experiences or feelings.

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Ptsd Inner Injury And Marriage

PTSD wounds the intimacy in marriage because it dismantles the emotional connection. Emotional intimacy is formed through a developmental process. The prerequisite conditions for intimacy include safety, trust, power,control and esteem.

A key way that trauma injures these preconditions for intimacy is by changing or reinforcing beliefs. For example, as a child you may have believed I am safe or the world is OK to explore because your parents protected you, you lived in a safe neighborhood, and the people around you were kind and respectful. However, those trust beliefs may change to people are dangerous and I could get hurt after a traumatic event. Even without basis, survivors could apply and overgeneralize faulty beliefs toward their spouses. Its nearly impossible to be emotionally intimate when a victim believes his or her spouse is a threat.

Likewise, trust is another vital precondition to intimacy, but trauma also erodes trust-forming beliefs, such as I dont know who I can trust and I cant trust anyone. Trauma can make the survivor feel powerless and out of control, which can lead to thoughts such as Others will take advantage of me, I will be abused or I must be in control.

Tip : Deal With Volatility And Anger

PTSD can lead to difficulties managing emotions and impulses. In your loved one, this may manifest as extreme irritability, moodiness, or explosions of rage.

People suffering from PTSD live in a constant state of physical and emotional stress. Since they usually have trouble sleeping, it means theyre constantly exhausted, on edge, and physically strung outincreasing the likelihood that theyll overreact to day-to-day stressors.

For many people with PTSD, anger can also be a cover for other feelings such as grief, helplessness, or guilt. Anger makes them feel powerful, instead of weak and vulnerable. Others try to suppress their anger until it erupts when you least expect it.

Watch for signs that your loved one is angry, such as clenching jaw or fists, talking louder, or getting agitated. Take steps to defuse the situation as soon as you see the initial warning signs.

Try to remain calm. During an emotional outburst, try your best to stay calm. This will communicate to your loved one that you are safe, and prevent the situation from escalating.

Give the person space. Avoid crowding or grabbing the person. This can make a traumatized person feel threatened.

Ask how you can help. For example: What can I do to help you right now? You can also suggest a time out or change of scenery.

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Be Patient With Your Partner

Along with listening comes patience. Its hard to see your loved one struggling with the fear and anxiety that comes with PTSD. If you knew your partner before PTSD, they may be different than how you remember them. Its also hard to witness your partner being scared, afraid, or angry over situations that dont warrant that kind of response. Yet these are the times when they need your patience and love the most.

Studies On Caregiver Burden

When Your Spouse Has Trauma [How to Help]

A few studies have looked at caregiver burden among partners caring for loved ones with PTSD. A brief discussion of two of these studies is provided below. In one study, researchers looked at 154 spouses of veterans with PTSD. They found that the severity of the veterans’ PTSD symptoms was connected to the amount of caregiver burden and distress experienced by the spouse.

As a spouse’s PTSD symptoms got worse, a caregiver’s amount of burden and distress increases.

Researchers have also looked at how PTSD symptoms such as depression, anger, and violence play out in relationships with PTSD patients and their caregivers. There may be a connection between how much detail about the trauma is shared with a partner, but more research is needed to better understand the issues.

Studies looking at the wives of combat veterans have found that this stress can have damaging consequences psychologically. Among wives of combat veterans with PTSD, there was an increased risk not only of PTSD, but somatic disease, clinical depression, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and an increased level of suicidality.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

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Develop A Support System

Besides being positive with your partner when things go well, encourage your partner to develop a strong support system to positively cope with PTSD. For example:

  • Networking with organizations for PTSD survivors.
  • Participating in sports, hobbies, and activities that they enjoy.
  • Attending counselling.

It will be important for your loved one to feel that they are understood and to know that they are not alone with this condition. You can point them in the right direction so that they develop a positive support system and dont drift towards negative coping mechanisms such as alcohol or drugs.

Support Your Spouse Without Enabling

Its crucial to support your spouse on the good and the bad days. Its also important not to cross the line and enable self-sabotaging behavior. Make sure your partner is getting the help he or she needs. This may involve going to regular therapy sessions, taking medications or going to group counseling.

Be aware of signs that your spouse may self-medicating with alcohol or drugs. This will only make your partners condition worse. It will also extend the time it takes to heal from PTSD symptoms.

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Do Not Force Them To Talk

Not all PTSD sufferers will want to talk about the traumatic experience they went through.

Its understandable that their spouse youre curious about their past and want to hear about the thing that caused them pain. However, for them, talking about the experience could trigger PTSD symptoms and other mental health issues.

Dont push them to talk about it with you if they decline.

On the flip side, if they do open up about it, be a good listener and listen without judgment. Dont tell them theyre overreacting, as you didnt experience it as they did. Respect their need for quiet and alone time is they ask for it.

Resources For Ptsd Recovery

Guess Which One Suffers From PTSD?

Caregivers and victims of PTSD should seek help to recover. Heres a short list of resources to get you started:

* Hope and Phil are a fictional couple however, their struggle represents those various individuals and couples with whom Dr. Vaughan has worked.

A variety of marital issues can lead to challenges or even hopelessness for one or both spouses in a marriage. Gaining a sense of hope and direction often requires understanding the underlying issues and relationship patterns which may have led to the crisis. Reach out to well-trained helpers even if you are the only person in the marriage willing to take action at this time. We can guide you as you seek a referral and take your first steps toward recovery. You can contact us Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at: 855-771-HELP or

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Ptsd Marriage Effects: What Is It Truly Like To Be Married To Ptsd

Although anyone living alongside a loved one with PTSD often wonders if theyre the only one feeling this way, most of us dont know, or dont want to know, about PTSD marriage effects.

When I married my husband ten years ago, I had known him for four years. I knew a lot about him. And he knew a lot about me. We had a clear plan of where we were heading and what we wanted our married life to look like. There was so much to look forward to.

But just shy of our fifth anniversary, obvious cracks had begun to appear. I realised our plans had lost their momentum, and even simple things seemed to take more effort and were becoming increasingly difficult. Along with children, anger had become a constant presence in our home. I tried to voice my concerns with the limited knowledge I had, though it wasnt until a close friend spoke privately to my husband about these cracks that he would finally acknowledge them.

I had known my husband for nine years when he was given a diagnosis of complex PTSD. Sadly, it wasnt a relief to finally have an answer to all those cracks, it felt as though we had both been handed a sentence.

From my medical background, I understood that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder meant my husband had an anxiety disorder following long-term exposure to traumatic events in his career as an Ambulance Paramedic.

And no one could prepare me for what it is to be .

It is to hear the sharp words and venomous tongue, but not let yourself listen to them.

Ptsd Symptoms And Reactions

Regardless of the traumatic event that caused them, the pattern of PTSD symptoms tends to be consistent. Identifying these symptoms helps survivors and spouses understand how the disorder affects their marriage. Organizations such as the National Center for PTSD review the warning signs of PTSD.

The four general PTSD symptom areas are:

  • Re-experiencing the trauma.
  • Changes in beliefs and mood.

Heres what these symptoms may look like on a daily basis. Survivors may:

  • Disconnect from interpersonal relationships and avoid interaction with others.
  • Shut down or become emotionally numb.
  • Use anger and irritability to push away the spouse or caregiver, yielding the high price of toxicity to intimacy.
  • Act out aggressively, both verbally and physically.
  • Avoid going out in public because of fear, heightened sensitivity and hypervigilance for threats.
  • Sit against a wall with a clear view of doors and exits when in public.
  • Struggle with sleep because of fear, a heightened alertness to sounds or nightmares.
  • Display addictive behavior such as workaholism to avoid and distract from the trauma.

These behaviors affect marriages in a number of ways, but those with the most impact are emotional detachment, numbness, anger and irritability.

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Work With A Holistic Marriage Therapist That Specializes In Post Affair Recovery At Wisdom Within Counseling

When couples speak from a place of anger or entitlement, nothing good ever happens. If there is negative communication in the form of yelling, neither of you are being successful in your communication. Understanding what you feel will allow you to understand how you act when you feel that way. From counseling in Hartford, Connecticut, you can learn to respond in healthier ways while communicating intense emotions like sadness or anger. Our team at Wisdom Within Counseling specializes in creative, expressive arts in PTSD marriage therapy.

Living With Your Spouses Ptsd: 4 Ways To Cope

A message for men whose partners have PTSD.

June 8th, 2016 Posted in Blog, Trauma, Grief & Loss and with tags: PTSD/Trauma

With political campaigning in full swing, were hearing phrases like taking care of our vets and their families, who have sacrificed so much. But for those who are family members of someone who is, or has been, in the service, these are more than just political buzzwords. It is a fact of everyday life. And for many military families, its not an easy fact either.

PTSD doesnt affect only people who have served in the Armed Forces, though it is sadly common among those who have seen active duty. PTSD can really affect anyone who has experienced trauma. We can experience trauma in a variety of ways: developmental trauma such as illness as a young child, interpersonal trauma such as emotional neglect, emotional, physical or sexual abuse, natural disaster, automobile accident, and more

PTSD makes it hard for you and your spouse to continue on with the daily lives you lived before. Thats because PTSD causes actual physical changes in the body and the brain. Sometimes the symptoms come and go. You may find that you and your loved one experience good days and difficult days.

Consider the following four ways to cope with your spouses PTSD:

1. Get professional help

2. Allow yourself to be imperfectand to be yourself!

3. Join a support group

4. Be physically fit together

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