Are you or your partner suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? If so, it may be taking a toll on your marriage, and have both you and your partner feeling disconnected and lost.
In order to take steps toward healing your marriage, it is important to understand how PTSD can affect your relationship, and how counseling can help both the traumatized individual and their spouse.
What is PTSD?
The National Center for PTSD describes the disorder as a mental health issue that develops due to the witness or experience of a significantly disturbing situation. (Examples: sexual abuse, childhood trauma, war experiences, witness of serious crime).
In order to fully understand what your partner may be going through, it is important to understand what PTSD is, and what symptoms may look like.
Symptoms of PTSD
Symptoms of PTSD include (but are not limited to): stress, anxiety, flashbacks, drug and alcohol dependence, anger outbursts, confusion, disorientation, nightmares, trouble developing relationships, and isolating oneself.
If you know, or believe, that you or your spouse may be suffering from PTSD, now is the time to get help for your marriage.
Responding to PTSD in Your Spouse
It is important to understand how to react to your spouse when their PTSD symptoms are triggered; the more you understand what they are going through, the more they can learn to trust and rely on your support. Suggests There are several ways you could approach your spouse during these moments.
Do not rush your partner into healing. More than anything, they need someone to hear them, and listen to how the feel emotionally.
Do not act offended when your partner needs space. There may be times when your partner needs space to process what they are going through. If they reject your affection, or your desire to talk, it isn’t your fault. Your spouse is likely experiencing many emotions and thoughts that could be overwhelming to them.
Do not assume that your partner always needs space. There may be times that your partner wants your affection, or your company, but if you assume that they are always uninterested in you, they may feel rejected by you. This can cause tension and emotional distress for the both of you.
Counseling Can Help You Both
Marriage Counseling Can Help PTSD and Improve Relationships
Counseling can open doors for you and your spouse, allowing more safe and secure attachment (which can decrease fears and anxieties within your relationship).
Counseling can teach both partners how to communicate each other’s feelings and emotions more effectively.
Counseling can help both of you to openly discuss the struggles you are each experiencing as a couple, and how to reduce the tension and disconnect within your relationship.
Counseling can help the traumatized by teaching them to cope and learn new skills to conquer their PTSD symptoms, which in turn will reduce strain on the relationship. This may also lead to the untraumatized spouse to feel a sense of relief at their partner’s progress in managing their PTSD.
When it comes to PTSD affecting your marriage, it should be taken seriously. If your spouse struggles with PTSD, encourage them to try couples counseling with you. If you struggle with PTSD, suggest to your spouse that counseling may be beneficial to you and your marriage. Don’t allow yourself to be alone in your struggles; it’s time t. receive the help you deserve.
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Dr. Melissa Estavillo is a Licensed Psychologist and founder of Biltmore Psychology and Counseling. With over 7 years of experience, she specializes in both individual and couples therapy in Phoenix, AZ. She integrates complementary methodologies and techniques stemming from Emotionally Focused Theory, Psychodynamic Theory and Other Evidence Based Practices to offer a highly personalized approach tailored to each client.