How To Improve Your Relationship When Your Partner Has Ptsd
While dating someone with PTSD can be difficult, there are ways your relationship can be improved. Sometimes just understanding how your relationship is affected by PTSD symptoms can provide enough explanation and empathy to reconcile many areas of conflict between you and your partner.
Dr. Lee encourages, If a partner is sharing something about their trauma or symptoms, the most important thing is to provide some positive comments about their sharing with you. Sometimes it may seem like a burden to solve a problem than can be chronic. You dont have to solve it yourself, because PTSD is complicated and even trained professionals have to work pretty hard with their clients. By providing some positive feedback about the act of sharing, such as thanking the person for their trust, that helps assuage feelings of guilt that come up with PTSD.
Here are 12 ways to improve your relationship with your partner with PTSD:5
Ways To Support Your Partner If They Have Ptsd
Dating someone with complex PTSD means you need to try to understand how to help them navigate their symptoms when they occur. There are various ways you do this and help with their PTSD recovery, but its also important to remember that youre not a mental health professional. If you want to learn how to help someone with PTSD, one of the best things you can do is to encourage them to seek professional help and learn about the different types of therapy for PTSD. Aside from that, you may also want to:
Learn Healthy Ways To Manage Your Own Stress
Helping a partner cope with PTSD is a recovery process that takes patience. The better you take care of yourself, the better youll be able to help your partner with their recovery. Understand that you may still get angry and frustrated, but know that having negative feelings will pass, and it doesnt change your love for them.
Encourage your partner to seek outside help. Dr. Estakhri helps relieve the symptoms of PTSD and provides mental clarity and relief. at Allied Psychiatry & Mental Health to make an appointment today. You can also use our convenient online scheduling tool to reach out for help.
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Tip : Explore Whats Really Behind Your Anger
Have you ever gotten into an argument over something silly? Big fights often happen over something small, like a dish left out or being ten minutes late. But theres usually a bigger issue behind it. If you find your irritation and anger rapidly rising, ask yourself, What am I really angry about? Identifying the real source of frustration will help you communicate your anger better, take constructive action, and work towards a resolution.
Is your anger masking other feelings such as embarrassment, insecurity, hurt, shame, or vulnerability? If your knee-jerk response in many situations is anger, its likely that your temper is covering up your true feelings. This is especially likely if you grew up in a family where expressing feelings was strongly discouraged. As an adult, you may have a hard time acknowledging feelings other than anger.
Anger can also mask anxiety. When you perceive a threat, either real or imagined, your body activates the fight or flight response. In the case of the fight response, it can often manifest itself as anger or aggression. To change your response, you need to find out whats causing you to feel anxious or scared.
Anger problems can stem from what you learned as a child. If you watched others in your family scream, hit each other, or throw things, you might think this is how anger is supposed to be expressed.
Anger can be a symptom of another underlying health problem, such as depression , trauma, or chronic stress.
Be There For Your Partner
The most basic thing that you can do for your partner is to be there for them. Its reassuring for them to know that if they have a flashback or other moment that triggers a PTSD response that they are with someone who is loving, supportive, and not judgmental toward them. If your partner is willing to talk about what they are feeling, hear them out and be a sounding board for them. Dont dictate to or analyse them, just listen.
This tip comes with a safety warning, though. Its not generally helpful for someone suffering PTSD to talk in graphic detail about their trauma. And hearing too much detail can induce secondary trauma in the person listening to them. Be there for your partner, and allow them them to talk freely about their feelings, but avoid too much delving into the details of their trauma.
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Take Care Of Your Own Emotional Physical And Spiritual Health
If youre stressed, scared, worried, angry, or depressed about your husbands PTSD, then you wont help him cope with the symptoms. You need to focus on getting strong and healthy as a woman, and then as a wife. One of the best ways to help your husband cope with PTSD and to help your marriage survive is to take care of yourself. The happier and healthier you are, the more you have to offer your husband. Coping with PTSD is a long, difficult process and can be challenging in a marriage, but it doesnt have to ruin your relationship.
Emotional And Psychological Trauma
If youve experienced an extremely stressful eventor series of eventsthats left you feeling helpless and emotionally out of control, you may have been traumatized. Psychological trauma often has its roots in childhood, but any event that shatters your sense of safety can leave you feeling traumatized, whether its an accident, injury, the sudden death of a loved one, bullying, domestic abuse, or a deeply humiliating experience. Whether the trauma happened years ago or yesterday, you can get over the pain, feel safe again, and move on with your life.
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Clues That Theres More To Your Anger Than Meets The Eye
You have a hard time compromising. Is it hard for you to understand other peoples points of view, and even harder to concede a point? If you grew up in a family where anger was out of control, you may remember how the angry person got their way by being the loudest and most demanding. Compromising might bring up scary feelings of failure and vulnerability.
You view different opinions as a personal challenge. Do you believe that your way is always right and get angry when others disagree? If you have a strong need to be in control or a fragile ego, you may interpret other perspectives as a challenge to your authority, rather than simply a different way of looking at things.
You have trouble expressing emotions other than anger. Do you pride yourself on being tough and in control? Do you feel that emotions like fear, guilt, or shame dont apply to you? Everyone has those emotions so you may be using anger as a cover for them. If you are uncomfortable with different emotions, disconnected, or stuck on an angry one-note response to situations, its important to get back in touch with your feelings. HelpGuides free Emotional Intelligence Toolkit can help.
Remind Your Loved One: People Recover
Encourage them to find the right therapist.That is something that takes some effort. In order to recover from complex ptsd, its vital that your loved one receive competent trauma informed care. While therapists regularly encounter the survivors of trauma, most do not have much training in treating trauma.
Trauma treatment is a specialty that requires advanced clinical training. Having provided clinical supervision to Bay Area Therapists for over 15 years, I am completely unaware of any graduate school that provides even the most bare amount of trauma treatment training.
Its vital that your loved one with C-PTSD is in treatment with a trauma therapist who:
- Provides education to the patient about the nervous system and its role in developing trauma symptoms.
- Teaches emotional regulation skills
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Go To Counselling With Your Partner
PTSD puts a unique strain on a marriage. Part of the process is you attending counselling with your partner. Couples counselling will help you both express your feelings in a safe place and learn how to better communicate with each other. A therapist will work with you both and provide new communication tools so that you can each understand where the other is coming from. Along with communication, you will learn stress management techniques.
How I Stopped Enabling My Husband With Ptsd And Started Supporting Him
Writer of PTSD relationships & motherhood
His outbursts were starting to come out of nowhere. His anger was getting unbearable. I didnt realize it at the time, but I had begun walking on eggshells, every single day. So when we discovered that my husbands changing behavior had a rational reason, it was something of a relief.
Post traumatic stress disorder. PTSD. I was under no illusion, it was going to be a long road for both of us. But together we would handle this. He would take extended leave from work, he would see the psychologists and the psychiatrists, he would take the right combinations of medication, he would keep his energy up and his anxiety down with regular exercise, and he would recharge with daily mindfulness practice.
But how long was it before I saw that he was slipping backwards? The checklist was right there, the answers to how we could move out from this dark fog of PTSD, but he wasnt doing even half of it.
I was absolutely sure that not only would we beat this demon, but that we could become the perfect example of how to overcome a psychological injury. With these naive blinkers on, it took me a long time to admit that my husband still wasnt getting any better. And despite the fact that I was supporting the hell out of him, he was gradually becoming entirely dysfunctional.
Who was it that first mentioned enabling to me?
ENABLE 1. to give someone the authority or means to do something 2. make possible or easy
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Ptsd Treatment And Therapy
Treatment for PTSD can relieve symptoms by helping you deal with the trauma youve experienced. A doctor or therapist will encourage you to recall and process the emotions you felt during the original event in order to reduce the powerful hold the memory has on your life.
During treatment, youll also explore your thoughts and feelings about the trauma, work through feelings of guilt and mistrust, learn how to cope with intrusive memories, and address the problems PTSD has caused in your life and relationships.
The types of treatment available for PTSD include:
Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy involves gradually exposing yourself to feelings and situations that remind you of the trauma, and replacing distorted and irrational thoughts about the experience with a more balanced picture.
Family therapy can help your loved ones understand what youre going through and help you work through relationship problems together as a family.
Medication is sometimes prescribed to people with PTSD to relieve secondary symptoms of depression or anxiety, although they do not treat the causes of PTSD.
EMDR incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy with eye movements or other forms of rhythmic, left-right stimulation, such as hand taps or sounds. EMDR therapy techniques work by unfreezing the brains information processing system, which is interrupted in times of extreme stress.
Try Not To Take Things Personally
The impact of childhood trauma can take a toll on your partners ability to function in a healthy way. As a result, they may experience seemingly irrational emotional reactionsincluding emotional numbness or mood swingsor the inability to participate in normal behaviors, including sexual situations. It can be very difficult to not take these things personally and feel rejected, hurt, or embarrassed. However, its important to understand that they are often direct results of trauma and are not a reflection on your partners true feelings toward you or your relationship. In fact, many survivors feel tremendous guilt about the disturbances and limitations they experience because they are well aware of how they impact their partners, yet feel powerless to overcome them. At the same time, survivors may feel frustrated, misunderstood, and even disbelieved if you frame their reactions to trauma as reactions to you by misidentifying the source of their feelings and behaviors, it can feel as if their experiences are rendered invisible and that their most painful traumatic memories have been reduced to seemingly arbitrary relationship issues.
Begin Your Recovery Journey.
Living With Your Partners Ptsd
Trauma is a complex and confusing thing to live with. It can be even more so if your loved one is experiencing symptoms and you are observing. When your partner has PTSD , you may not know how best to support them. At times, it may feel like youre walking on eggshells.
Your partner may be withdrawn or prone to emotional outbursts. They may get angry and say things they dont mean. Its important to be aware of the source so you can approach the situation compassionately.
Familiarizing yourself with how trauma affects your partner and how you can appropriately support them will make a huge difference in your life living together. It can be the difference between creating a stronger foundation vs. creating a painful distance.
Here are 10 tips to help you peacefully coexist with your partner who has PTSD.
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.
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How To Help Your Husband Cope With Post Traumatic Stress
These ideas for supporting your husband through the stress of post traumatic stress disorder will help you walk alongside him. PTSD affects men and women in different ways and it isnt just experienced by soldiers and veterans. Firefighters, police, social workers, abuse survivors, and even ICU patients can develop symptoms of post traumatic stress.
PTSD is caused by contact between the individual and the darkest and most violent forces of human nature, writes Kirtland C. Peterson in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Clinicians Guide. War, murder, rape, floods, etc. take the victim over the edge of life into serious confrontations with death or uncontrolled violence. Some individuals are therefore transformed and become, at some level, bearers of the traumatic experience. He adds that people who come into contact with military men and soldiers are also exposed to the effects of these violent and traumatic forces.
Here are a few ways to help your husband deal with PTSD, plus tips on keeping yourself healthy and well as a wife, mother, and woman. To learn about a beautiful new book on helping men cope with When Your Husband Returns From Combat The Warrior Soul.
I was inspired to write this article because I listened to a husband with PTSD on the radio this morning. He has struggled with the symptoms of post traumatic stress for almost 10 years, and its been really difficult for his wife. She wants to support and help him, but she isnt sure how.
First Off What Is Ptsd
For those of you who don’t know, PTSD stands for post traumatic stress disorder. It’s a mental health disorder that occurs after an individual experiences or witnesses a terrifying or traumatic event themselves, learns a loved one experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, or is in whatever way exposed to other people’s trauma, says psychotherapist Elizabeth Beecroft, LMSW.
And while PTSD may be most commonly associated with military experience, it can also stem from racial trauma, sexual assaults, watching videos or witnessing individuals being hurt, domestic abuse, and more.
PTSD can last for months or even years with symptoms that include flashbacks of the event, avoidance of triggers, nightmares, severe anxiety or depression, and other intense emotional or physical responses, says Beecroft.
It’s important to note that everyone’s PTSD looks different depending on an individual’s circumstance, thoughso what may be a trigger for one person could very possibly not be a trigger for another.
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Learning Ways To Support A Spouse With Ptsd
Lisaâs husband, Jeffrey, came back from deployment with PTSD and depression. She learned to recognize signs that he was having a tough time, and discovered ways she could help him. Reflecting on her fatherâs experiences after the Korean War, Lisa is thankful her husband is getting support right away and improving his life.
- Air Force Reserve / National Guard
- Post-9/11 Era
Why Is Understanding Ptsd Important For Partners
Its vital to recognize changes in one person in a relationship as it can cause changes to the partnership. Therefore, managing the effects of PTSD reaches beyond just the person with the diagnosis.2 Even if your partner does not have an official PTSD diagnosis, they can still exhibit many symptoms of PTSD.1 This can be even more difficult to navigate depending on the type of trauma theyve experienced for example, if they had PTSD from a past relationship, they may be having trouble trusting you. Women experience additional risk factors for developing PTSD, which is also important for a partner to understand.