Did you know that supportive spouses are the Unsung Hero’s in our PTSD community?
But like many, the PTSD spouses can often feel lost. Does your spouse or loved one suffer from Post Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD)? If so, chances are you suffer right along side them. Spouses of loved ones with PTSD are some of the strongest and hopeful people in the world. Again, unbridled unsung heroes in our PTSD community.
According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the divorce rate is 38% for married couples where one partner has PTSD. The U.S. has a national average of 30% of marriages ended in divorce in 2016. So, if your loved one has PTSD, does this mean your marriage is at a 68% risk for divorce?
PTSD Spouses Stay Positive
Although this data is disheartening for couples facing PTSD, you do not have to be a part of these statistics at all! I refuse to be a statistic. And, being here for my husband who fights a life full of unruly (C)PTSD symptoms has not been easy.
However, the good news is that PTSD spouses are a soft place to land for their partners. So long as it’s done in a healthy way. Many couples don’t realize that the spouse with PTSD actually has the power to send their symptoms into remission. In turn, allowing both of you, and your children to experience the blessing of PTSD recovery.
PTSD Spouses And PTSD Statistics
Most sources argue that PTSD destroys marriages. Honestly, this can be a reality for some. Respectively, research shows that 38% of “Vietnam Veteran marriages failed within six months of a soldier’s return home from deployment. Further studies reveled that Veterans with PTSD have reported serious marital issues, increased difficulty parenting, and a generally harder time adjusting to family life than Veterans without PTSD.”
Additionally, a 2005 Pentagon study found that divorce rates for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans rose to a discouraging 78 percent since 2003. Unfortunately, these details aren’t very encouraging for us PTSD spouses now is it?
Regardless, whether or not PTSD spouses experiencing damaging symptoms of (C)PTSD, couples CAN make it. Only with a team effort that is. Especially from efforts of a (C)PTSD survivor. Opposed to that of the PTSD spouses. This became clear when a therapist once asked me, “How much of his journey does he own”? Instantly, a light bulb went off as they asked the question. Given that he hadn’t taken accountability for any of his behavior. Which then was compounded by his refusal to embrace his therapy. Specifically, applying skills learned in order to better manage his PTSD symptoms.
Perhapse you can resonate. Does your spouse act as if they have no control over their symptoms? Or, is it expressed that they’re a victim of PTSD without a way to get better? Equally important, how much of a crutch is the supporting spouse providing? Someone may think they’re helping their partner cope with PTSD, instead, unaware they’re hindering the recovery progress?
Issues & Solutions For PTSD Spouses
Most likely if you’re marriage has been affected by PTSD, you’ve assumed the role as a caregiver. And, the “caregiver” responsibilities can be 24/7 job. In reality though, the best thing you can do as a PTSD spouse “caregiver” is to take care of yourself first. Often, supporting spouses end up feeling as though “they’ve lost themselves” along the way. Due to the exhausting nature of providing comfort and attention on a daily basis. Not to mention numerous sleepless nights, hostility, and increased anxiety.
Losing yourself is like going on auto-pilot. Finding yourself stuck in a reactive way of living. Unintentionally, co-dependancy, resentment, and hopelessness sets in. Consequently, PTSD spouses easily forget who they are at the core. For instance, confusion and concern gradually dominate your thoughts.
Watching them suffer in such a way, without guidance on how to provide a healthy relationship is unrelenting. PTSD spouses experience anxiety, fear, and sometimes low self-worth. Always on alert, preparing for the next onset of a full-blown PTSD or CPTSD episode. Or, recovering from the last one.
PTSD Spouses Need A Support System
In situations like this, PTSD spouses become numb and isolated within the walls of their homes. In general, their home is unstable and at times toxic. Sound familiar? Are you at a point where your anxiety gets worse the closer you get home after going somewhere? If so, chances are you’re developing early signs of 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 overcome issues. Equally important they’ll give you your own set of tools necessary. Because, in order to be the rock, caring for yourself and your partner with PTSD. In fact, there are therapists who specialize in treating PTSD spouses.
Tips For PTSD Spouses
lets address the nights you go without adequate rest. Maybe you haven’t slept a sound night in days or even months. Since your spouse’s nights include hellacious PTSD nightmares they either don’t sleep, or they wake up multiple times a night. Chances are, if they aren’t resting, neither are you. Then, showing up late to work, if at all, happens on a regular basis. And to make matters worse, your quality of work is not the same. As hard as it is, you should meet with your employer’s H.R. department. Or, at minimum with your manager. This helps them understand why you aren’t performing like your usual self.
As PTSD Spouses: Sample Conversation With Employer
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. This is exactly what I had done, and it took a weight of bricks off my shoulders.
- Ask them if they are familiar with PTSD. If Employers aren’t aware of employees who are PTSD spouses, they cannot sympathize.
- Then let them know that you understand that your situation is your problem, and not theirs. Explain how you understand 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.
5 Tips For PTSD Spouses Who Are Really Struggling
The key advice that I can attest to, and share with other PTSD spouses is this:
(1) First, build a support system for yourself. Reach out and make new friends. Seriously. Certaintly, connect with other PTSD spouses online who are experiencing similar things. As a matter of fact, there are wonderful and private Facebook groups you can join. Specifically created for men and women who’s marriage has been affected by PTSD.
A few of my favorites that are invaluable are linked here:
Of course, you can always search for “PTSD GROUPS” on Facebook and joining a few would be valuable.
Tip 2 For PTSD Spouses
Secondly, make time for things that you enjoy. Especially, If you’ve neglected 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.
Tip 3 For PTSD Spouses
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.
Tip 4 For PTSD Spouses
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 fidget 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.
Tip 5 for PTSD Spouses
Lastly, don’t be so hard on yourself. You are doing the best that you can. You are in the exclusive club of PTSD spouses in love with someone with PTSD. 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?! Before you go, check out these valuable articles that will help you!
- The guide to PTSD and marriage – Learn how to enrich your relationship
- How to manage stress while battling PTSD – valuable stress reducers you can apply today
- PTSD Quotes – tips to help you stay positive, with 51 PTSD Quotes
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