Does your spouse or loved one suffer from Post Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD) or Complex PTSD (CPTSD)? If you are then you most likely suffer right along side them. Wives of loved ones with PTSD are some of the strongest and hopeful people who are out there. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the divorce rate is 38% for married couples where one partner has PTSD. Additionally, 30% of marriages ended in divorce in 2016. So, if your loved one has PTSD, does that mean that you are at a 68% risk for divorce?
Although this data is disheartening to wives of loved ones with PTSD, you do not have to be a part of these statistics at all! I’m not. And my journey with my husband who has CPTSD has not been easy at all. However, the good news is that your loved one can absolutely send their symptoms into remission. Hence allowing both of you, and your children, to experience PTSD recovery.
Wives of Loved Ones With PTSD
Most resources will state that PTSD destroys marriages. And, this may be true for some. For example, research has found that 38 percent of “Vietnam veteran marriages failed within six months of the veteran’s return from Southeast Asia.” Research also finds that “veterans with PTSD are more likely to report marital issues, increased difficulty with parenting, and generally lower ability to adjust back into the family than veterans without PTSD.” A 2005 Pentagon study found that the divorce rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans was up 78 percent since 2003.
Whether or not a couple is facing the horrible and damaging symptoms of CPTSD or PTSD makes it depends on a joint effort. More so from the spouse who has CPTSD or PTSD. A therapist once asked, “How much of his journey does he own”? A light bulb went off when asked this question. Does your spouse act as if they have no control over their symptoms? Additionally, do they feel as if they are a victim of their circumstance with no way out? Furthermore, how much of a crutch is the supporting spouse providing? Do wives of loved ones with PTSD hinder their spouse’s progress?
Issues & Solutions: For Wives Of Loved Ones With PTSD or CPTSD
Most likely if you are married to someone with CPTSD or PTSD, you are their sole caregiver. And, the position of “caregiver” that you naturally took on is a 24/7 job. Foremost, the most important thing that you can do as a caregiver is to take care of yourself first. Often times I hear of supporting spouse’s “losing themselves”. It’s like going on auto-pilot, constantly reacting to your spouse’s symptoms. Consequently, wives of loved ones with PTSD easily forget who they are at the core. You may find yourself thinking about your spouse all the time. Also, preparing for the next onset of a full-blown PTSD or CPTSD episode.
If this is the case then you may have become numb and isolated within the walls of your home. Yet, your home has become unstable and toxic for you. Have you noticed higher anxiety for yourself the closer that you get to home after going somewhere? Chances are you are developing Vicarious PTSD. With this in mind it is highly recommended that you seek individual therapy with someone who specializes in trauma. They will be equipped with helping you. Equally important they will give you the tools you need to be a better support system for your loved one with CPTSD or PTSD. There are therapists treating wives of loved ones with PTSD or CPTSD.
More For Wives Of Loved Ones With CPTSD or PTSD
Maybe you have not slept a sound night in months or years. Since your spouse suffers from nightmares they either don’t sleep or their sleep is interrupted. So long as they are not getting proper rest; neither are you. For this reason you find that you are often late to work. Your performance at work is also suffering. As hard as it is, it would benefit you to have a private conversation with the H.R. department or your manager regarding your loved ones condition.
Wives Of Loved Ones With PTSD: Conversation with Your Manager
Let your manager or H.R. department manager know what’s going on. The worst thing for an employer is becoming aware of changes in their employees behavior and not knowing why. They will notice negative changes that are out of character. In this case they will only assume that you don’t care about your career with them.
For this reason you will want to cover a few crucial topics with them. Ask them if they are familiar with PTSD. If Employers aren’t aware of employees who are wives of loved ones with PTSD, they cannot sympathize. Then let them know that you understand that your situation is your problem and not theirs. Certainly it only becomes their problem if it affects their business. Inform them that your spouse is in therapy and that things will improve. Also, that it is not a quick fix but that you will do all that you can to make improvements on your work performance.
Advice From One Wife to Other Wives Of Loved Ones With PTSD
Some key advice that I can give to other wives of loved ones with PTSD or CPTSD includes:
- Build a support system for yourself. Reach out and make new friends. Connect With others online who are experiencing a similar journey as you. A few Facebook
groups that are super helpful are PTSD Help, Support, and Recovery Women’s PTSD Support Group And Complex PTSD Recovery. You can search “PTSD GROUPS” on Facebook and find a few that meet your support needs.
- Make time for things that you enjoy. If you have neglected participating in hobbies or activities that bring you joy, start making time for these. Believe it or not, you can schedule an hour or two every couple of weeks
to engage in something fun – that’s just for you. If you have children, take them with you to go visit with a friend who also has children. This adult time is very healing for you.
- Learn to recognize your spouse’s triggers. Familiarizing yourself with what their triggers are will help
both of you avoid them. In turn, this will also enable working through each trigger after they are identified. Triggers can also change over time so keep this in front of mind.
- Equally important is to recognize the onset of CPTSD or PTSD symptoms or an episode. What early signs of behavior does your spouse have when symptoms begin to surface? Does their physical attributes change? For example, does their skin turn red and blotchy? You may notice them begin to fidgit or speed up their breathing. Due to anxiety, they will act differently. This being said, anxiety is the first PTSD or CPTSD symptom. Then, if not managed quickly, will develop into a full-blown episode.
- Lastly, don’t be so hard on yourself. You are doing the best that you can. You are in the exclusive club of wives of loved ones with PTSD or CPTSD. Neither you or your spouse asked for this. Although you can’t control everything that happens to you, you sure can learn to control how you react. Stay positive, read more articles on this site, and realize that you are not alone. Hey, according to the statistics above, we are part of the 62% successful marriages with PTSD, right?!
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