Peer support subsequent to trauma contributes to full recovery

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) -- including complex trauma (cPTSD) -- is debilitating, breaking down the body through anxiety and stress, and it poses a significant suicide risk in sufferers. MyPTSD seeks to help and inform those who are directly or indirectly affected by these conditions through peer-to-peer support and educational resources.

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The Only Person I Want Is My Wife, But Intimacy Has Gone

Discussion in 'Supporter Relationships' started by NPS, Apr 24, 2010.

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  1. NPS

    NPS New Member

    Hi. First off I apologise this might be long.

    I am a husband of a wife who was just diagnosed with PTSD. we have been married for 8 yrs and have two great sons (4 & 6). I have a good career and my wife is a stay at home mother.

    My wife has had a TERRIBLE childhood. most of it she doesn't remember. Her father left her and her brother at 3. Her mother then left her the following year so she was raised by her grandma, moved from school to school. Years later her brother committed Suicide (accidental drug overdose) at age 18.

    When we dated I knew all of this, however never knew how it would impact my life many years later.

    In the beginning we had a good level of intimacy but BEFORE the wedding it started to diminish. It has always been wait until _______ and it will get better. Until 2 yrs ago with NO level of intimacy we both went to see a marriage counsellor. We saw her for 8 months (which I set up). She then suggested she sees a more qualified person who deals with trauma.

    I once again researched and found a great trauma specialist in the area. I had no idea the road we were going to go down. He had determined something big happened to her through psychoanalysis and CBT. She has been seeing him for 8 months too. She has been changing quite rapidly since she began seeing him. Extremely distant, jumpy, forgetfully, tired, sick, anxious and snappy can only sum up some of the things she has been doing. No more kissing, hugging, eye contact....nothing. The psychotherapist says she wants to avoid going to the distressing event so much that he doesn't know if she ever will.

    Now that she is an utter mess and our communication level is down to nothing she told me she doesn't want to go see him anymore....which I thought would happened. She said she is changing as a person and I am the one to blame. I thought I was helping her get rid of her demons only to find she thinks I am the demon.

    I don't know what the future holds anymore.

    My family and kids are everything to me, however, I cannot live with no intimacy any longer. The only person I want is my wife and that is the only one I cant have. She told me she wishes she found someone more like her that doesn't like intimacy. At this point I feel she wants a divorce.

    Why is this happening to me???

    I am a wreck trying to hold everything together.

    Is this going to get better?? What do I do??

    Very lonely and confused.
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  3. She Cat

    She Cat I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    Welcome to the forum.......Will it get better??? That's hard to say, and it depends on how much your wife is willing to do, in order for it to improve. By the sounds of your post, she is starting to give up....

    The thing with PTSD and therapy...It will make you a lot sicker, and I think this is what is happening with your wife at this point. Facing all of this shit, is hard, it's raw, it hurts, and it drags up stuff that, really we would rather forget about. But the painful truth is...In order to get better, we have to face it, and doing so WILL make us sick. It does get better, but it takes time.

    Therapy is desensitizing ourselves from the trauma. It's a long process, but it does work. This forum is another source of desensitizing us also. Basically the entire forum can be a trigger for people, when reading some of the stuff that others have gone through, but it helps us in the end.

    Anyway, I don't have much to offer you by way of hope, but there is support here if you need. Please read as much as you can, and ask questions.....
    Barberian, pebbels and Junebug like this.
  4. NPS

    NPS New Member

    Thanks for the reply. The painful answer I had a feeling I was going to get. My next question is if she does chose to quit therapy at this point....what next?? will she be worse off the rest of her life? what is the chances of her having a healthy relationship after going down the road halfway?? she thinks something happened to her but cant remember. she is a mess right now and it is getting worse.
  5. Nicolette

    Nicolette ♡ Supporter Admin ♡
    Supporter Admin

    Welcome to the forum NPS. Unfortunately it will more than not get worse before it get better.

    If your wife quits therapy and gets no other help she will likely struggle more....that is something only she controls but from what I have seem in my time here ending therapy/help usually is to the detriment to a relationship.

    Please come down to the Carers' section and read the sticky threads at the top of each section as they may help you. It is a roller coaster ride and the unfortunately reality is that generally the Sufferer controls much of what happens which is determined by their attitude or willingness to get help and heal their trauma.
  6. NPS

    NPS New Member

    So I should be preparing for divorce?? This is crazy! I have been more than patient (sexless marriage for 8 yrs). I love her very much but it is so painful to not recieve the love they give out. I go to bed lonely every night. My kids deserve to be raised in a healthy family structure. I cant believ this is happening. Has anyone else out there gone thru this and was able to have a healthy relationship?
  7. Farine

    Farine Active Member

    Hello NPS,

    I hear between the lines, the reservations and objections of your wife. Has she really considered the penaltiies of being a single mother? During my two separations, I got a chance to be a single mother first hand experience. We have two tweener girls - just so you know a little bit about me. We're back together again and it's been 9 months so far. You were asking about a healthy relationship. It's sufficient. I doubt any of my family or friends would go so far as to call it 'healthy'.

    As a single mother she won't be seeing her children much at a time when they desperately need her. She'll be working, plus laundry, meals, shopping and overseeing homework. The relative peaceful responses from her children will be a thing of the past. Mine had six weeks of solid disruption which tapered down (and that's WITH therapy in place) gradually after that. THere were days with 15 meltdowns..a DAY. Add that to her current emotional state. Because the emotional stablitiy gets hammered with the shared emotional experience. Children do not have filters to stop them from processing her emotions.. or in this case my emotions. I was very dilligent about managing my emotions 'off site'.. I took a lot of walks.. I took a lot of hot baths. I journalled. I did creative projects of all kinds. Even so, there were times when I still lost my temper regrettably. I don't know if she has my temperament. I don't go off easy. I really struggled with this. Just putting this out there. Hope it does someone some good.

    Has she really considered this? Feel free to tell her.
  8. Monarch

    Monarch I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    I have a great marriage but we have had our ups and downs due to my PTSD. We work together and he is my support, I had to trust him, until I did that I was very distant but once I brought him into therapy and started making him part of my healing we worked together and became closer. He can tell now when I am struggling and knows what to do and what not to do. You have to engage and support, don't think about divorce think about her healing and how much better your family will be when that happens.
    pebbels likes this.
  9. NPS

    NPS New Member

    Farine and Monarich....thanks for your input and support.

    I dont think she looks too far in the future these days. I know what life would be like (for her) but like I said she is not thinking clearly these days. She wants her pain to end and she thinks if you eliminate me from the equation that might happend.

    I love here dearly and nobody wants her to succeed more than me however ultimatley it is her choice, she controls her own destinity. I feel powerless and am watching from the sidelines. I know more about ptsd than her cause I am constantly reading up on it and educating myself. It is so awfull that childhood Abuse/neglect not only effects the victim but everybody who loves that person.
  10. Monarch

    Monarch I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    totally my husband read up on it too but I didn't know he was doing it because we weren't talking about it. Then I brought him into therapy with me and we started talking and have been ever since. There was a point when I wanted to divorce him but it was all about pushing him away. Yes, she controls her own destiny but when she is not well, when any of us aren't well we don't make rational decisions.
  11. ISupportHer

    ISupportHer Supporter Member
    Premium Member

    Hi, sorry I don't have time to respond in detail. I kind of keep an eye out for other males who are carers. Hope you have read lots in the carers section.

    Much of what you describe rings true for me as far as feelings, etc. I know that when I started here I was specifically looking for other males with wives or GF's with PTSD but found this forum to be so much more.

    Don't want to scare you too much but this is a very hard road for you and her. There is no quick fix and, as you will read, you can do your best but ultimately it all hinges on your wife. Her ability to cope, participation in therapy, etc.

    Take care and I will try my best to follow your threads.

  12. Junebug

    Junebug I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    Dear NPS,

    I am not sure if this is in any way helpful, but perhaps there is a middle ground: your wife may be correct in intuitively thinking that this is not the therapist for her. I agree wholeheartedly with everything that has been said- especially She Cat, but what I am thinking is that therapy, as painful as it is, shouldn't involve a total (relatively permanent) shutdown without other more useful strategies in place to deal with the pain. It has to be faced, and we cannot control how much will come up, but sometimes it can be too much too soon, too fast a pace- I think that by the sound of others different Therapists (and definitely different Therapies) can make all the difference. She may not want to run away from it as much when she has moments when there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and some relief.
    I think that her Therapist stating/ inferring that she may not be able to get through this, to face it, is already a bad sign. Just IMHO, of course. I think that anyone picks up on the "vibe" that their condition is seen as 'Hopeless', combined with intolerable pain and ample amounts of fear and not understanding what is happening to me it certainly wouldn't be a motivator, were it me.

    Perhaps her Dr can also use an appropriate medication complement- even that takes trial and error, usually.

    I think that intimacy has taken a second place to survival, for her. Especially when it is a trigger for her, by the sound of it. However, if the 1st can be faced, the second will not be the obstacle it is now.

    I'm sorry that your family has to go through this, but many people will do all they can here to support and help you, and there is a lot of terrific and applicable information here that will help. Please take care of yourself as well.
  13. NPS

    NPS New Member

    Hi Junebug
    I agree with you on what you said about intimacy taking a second place to survival. In regards to her therapist (PHD) who is one of the best in the field of trauma (I did alot of research) she actually likes him. She dosent like what he is doing to her (recalling repressed feelings). Also, in the middle of this she weaned 100% off her antidepressant (effexor for 2 yrs). The therapsit told me that they are making progress but at a very slow pace. She will find any excuse not to go to therapy once a week. She is also in denial too as he told me it took him 2 months with her to admit there was a problem. She dosent remember a specific incident and that is what is frustrating to her. At one point in therapy she broke down crying uncontrolably and her heartrate sky rocketed. She dosent know why and he told me he hit a "live wire." She told me there is a reason why she blocked out much of her past and that she dosent want to go back there. I replied to move forward one has to go to that incident and move past it with the help of a professional and a loving husband and home environment. At first I thought she was not interested in me but I have learned it is not me. I am sorry I keep rambling, just a confusing time for me. I never thought this would happend. I always thought we would have a happy life together and every day that passes I think that will not be the case. I feel if I leave I just contribute to her problem of everyone else in her past who abandoded her. Selfishly i am just lonely for a woman.
  14. amethist

    amethist The Mystic Duck

    Hi NPS

    I have been reading your post's though not replied till now.

    I am wondering if any one has ever mentioned to you, that Intimacy can be one of the first things to disappear and one of the last to come back, when Depression hits. I know it is tough when this happens, and it has been a long time for you. But if intimacy is the cause of her PTSD (Not from you, but forced in the past), then she may never feel able to be intimate with anyone again.

    I don't want to sound negative, but you may have to think about this and realise this is how it's going to be. Sorry if this hits a raw nerve for you, but I am trying to be honest with you.

    Surely if you think about it, intimacy can just be the icing on the cake, and is not all a marriage is based on. There are other and more important aspects that must come first.

  15. catjudo

    catjudo I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    There are so many things I want to say in response to this thread, but I'm not in the best frame of mind so I'll tread lightly for now and just point out a couple of things. I don't want to say something to upset or offend you. Please remember, I am responding from the position of a PTSD sufferer with, what sounds like, a background at least somewhat similar to your wife's. I do not have the perspective of being a PTSD carer.

    Yes, your wife must face her past trauma in order to heal and move forward. However, that does not mean, IMO, that she must recall traumatic memories that have been blocked from her Memory. She can work on processing the things she does remember and the rest will hopefully fall into place. By working on processing her trauma, those repressed memories may return to her. But if she is feeling pressured to force herself to remember something, I don't think that's good. She's right, she blocked those things for a reason. It won't feel safe for her to remember those things if someone (you or her therapist, whatever the case may be) is trying to force those memories to return.

    I think you seem like you've been wonderfully supportive, but I would question if there isn't a certain amount of exaggeration on your part.

    No offense, but if you have two children, ages 4 and 6, then it has not been a sexless marriage for 8 years. Like amethist said, there is more to a marriage than intimacy. Also try to remember that there is more to intimacy than sex. If you love your wife, and you really sound like you do, then show her that you're going to continue to support her no matter how long it takes for her to heal.
  16. NPS

    NPS New Member

    Hi catjudo
    I fully agree that intamacy is not just sex, and that is not what i am looking for. I want to hold hands, cuddle, kiss, hug etc. I want to go on a date with her. I am not interested in just sex. I want a wife not a business partner who helps run the daily operations. I feel like I have given her all the tools to help herself and am very supportive but there is only so much I can do. I know alot of ptsd suferrs are reading this and getting upset. Because I am not a ptsd sufferer i truely do not know what is going on in her head or others. To get specific we do have two children but I can count on both hands the number of times we have had sex in 8 yrs, that is why I say sexless marriage. At this point I do not even want to have sex with her ( i have been rejected so many times) I want her to sit on the couch next to me and put her arm around me. I dont want people here thinking i am a contrilling hypersexed husband, quite the opposite. I am just trying to make sense of all of this. I am also not pressuring her to go to therapy, i just help her get there. Please dont make me out to be the bad guy!
  17. catjudo

    catjudo I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    I don't really feel up to engaging in a back-and-forth at the moment, and don't feel that it would be particularly productive. I would say that I was merely trying to offer another perspective and only had your own words to go by. Your thread title talks about wanting intimacy, but in your post you asked if you hadn't been patient enough going through eight years of sexless marriage. I only had your own words to go by and was merely pointing out that one can have one without the other. As I stated, my intention was not to upset or offend you. That being said, if what you took away from my post was that I was to trying to make you out to be the bad guy, then you didn't really get what I was trying to convey.
  18. Junebug

    Junebug I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    Dear NPS

    I am sure no one sees you as a bad guy, but in fact rather (if I may say so) an overwhelmed and concerned husband, (who wouldn't be here if you didn't care) trying to make sense of things that are very difficult to understand. The others here, too, are trying to help you by being direct and honest, I think. There are, unfortunately, no easy answers.

    One thing comes to me: all of what has been said is true and accurate, but 2 words that help me sometimes put things in perspective is 'time', and 'patience' (and 'patience patience patience'). "Time" has to go out the window, IMHO. It does, and will, require a tremendous amount of self-sacrifice, forgiveness and exponential understanding and tenderness on your part.

    I do not mean to infer that you have not suffered for 8 years, but 'today' is all any of us have to start from. And our feelings- or the intensity of them- changes every day. It will be up to your wife to work to accept, heal and manage this on a daily basis, and only the 2 of you can (ultimately) decide what is best for both of you in terms of your relationship.

    I know the feeling of wanting a solution and wanting it NOW- I've beaten my head against a brick wall enough times in that regard (always feeling frustrated and worse about myself every time I couldn't 'create' one, btw); unfortunately, learning about and managing PTSD for both a sufferer and carer is like 'peeling an onion', like they say- just when you think it all makes sense you have to start all over again at a different level and/ or a different perspective.

    But just know this, however 'well' or 'ill' your wife is coping, it likely has less to do with you, and more to do with the fact the very questions you have expressed are exactly (some of) the fears that are exactly on her mind, as well. That is what I mean by 'too much too soon': the memories will come when she is ready, or never, or for the rest of her life. The difference is, hopefully she will be able to recognize them by then for what they are, reduce the extent or time of their effect on her, and carry on. With happiness again in her life, ideally. She may very well not have the 'words' to express to her Therapist that this whole process is becoming overwhelming.

    I am sure, however, that the one thing that she cannot bear is more stress, even if it is the best-intentioned. I am sure that she wants to be 'rid' of this and have a 'normal' life even more than you want her to. There can be terrible grief involved the day you realize this is permanent- for both sufferers and carers, because it is an exhausting and very frightening way to have to live, I have experienced.

    It very definitely can and does get better though, if you are willing to try- even in the smallest way, to face it. But you can only encourage her, and the best way to do that is also to keep learning about this yourself, I think it will bring you great relief, because neither one of you is alone, you are both a part of (your) relationship.
    Fantabulous and catjudo like this.
  19. NPS

    NPS New Member

    Thanks junebug, catjudo and everyone else. looks like I will be here for a while.
  20. Tessa

    Tessa I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    Hi NPS,

    I'm sorry you are both having such a difficult time. A few things come to mind :

    It is often important for the sufferer to feel in control as they have often been overpowered in their trauma.
    Often a side effect of anti-depressants is lowered libido.
    It may be worth doing hormone studies as an imbalance can also cause lowered libido.
    Sexual healing often comes in small steps,as you have mentioned,by just holding hands or a dinner for two.
    Perhaps she would benefit from an activity outside the home to help her connect more with people (you mentioned a stay at home mum).
    If she needs a break from therapy I would let her as it may have become overwhelming.

    Take care
  21. Ellen

    Ellen New Member

    Hi. I was seeing a psychoanalytic/psychoanalytic male therapist for 3 years, and it did me far more harm than good. They're into the attachment/regression thing which makes you very dependent and vulnerable, like you were when you were abused as a kid. It can definitely make symptoms worse. There's also the complication of developing an intimate relationship with a man who is not your husband. It nearly killed my marriage, but now that I am not seeing that therapist any more we're starting to build it back up. However, I have sexual anorexia issues, even though I was quite promiscuous way back when. Who knows if that's what's going on with your wife, but hopefully she will find a female therapist who specializes in childhood trauma. Dialectical behavior therapy is really great.

    In the meanwhile you need to take care of yourself and your kids. You might need to get into therapy yourself. My husband did and he is just now beginning to realize that he has codependency issues that have contributed to the dysfuncton of our marriage. Support groups like Al-Anon are really helpful too because they help you figure out how to take care of yourself while someone you love is in crisis.
  22. NPS

    NPS New Member

    Tessa and Ellen, thanks for the suggestions.

    My wife's intimacy started to decline BEFORE our wedding. I read somewhere that stress (good or bad) can do this. This was 5 years befoe an antidepressant hit her blood stream. So the antidepressant was not responsible for this (although it didn't help). Also she did have her hormones checked and guess what...everything came back normal. She wants to point to everything except her bad (and quite traumatic) childhood. She has been seeing a male therapist so I can see the issues that might be present with the things Ellen said.

    She is a stay at home mom with two very rowdy boys (they are great)! Her stress level is over the top and so is mine. What puzzels me is that throughout this forum the suffers (who know their libidio is diminished) still puts an effort in because they know it is important to thier significant other. With my wife there is NO effort.
  23. NPS

    NPS New Member

    I have a question for anyone out there. Since I posted last sunday (and the fragile state my wife is in) we had some more traumatic news this week. Her stepmom had passed unexpectetley. When she got the news on wednesday she was numb. I immediatley thought how much more can my wife take at this time? She is currently out of state while I am holding up the home frount (w/kids). Will this set her back even more than before? How will this effect her?
  24. Nicolette

    Nicolette ♡ Supporter Admin ♡
    Supporter Admin

    NPS...I am going to move your thread to the Carers section so you may get better exposure so you get more responses to your questions.

    I am sorry for your wife's loss.
  25. amethist

    amethist The Mystic Duck

    Hi NPS

    I am sorry to hear about your wife's loss.

    To answer your questions if this could set her back and how it could effect her, is not an easy one to answer. She could be extremely upset over her loss, which is only to be expected, or she could stay numb for quite a while.

    All I can suggest for now is that you let her tell you how she feels in her own time, just let her know that if and when she wants to talk you are there to listen. I would leave everything else for now, but maybe encourage her to go to therapy if possible. Just so she can let out how she is feeling right now, it may help her grieve easier, if that is possible for anyone.

    Remember to take care of yourself too, while all this is going on.

  26. NPS

    NPS New Member

    Hi Everybody

    Here is an update on my situation.

    Within the past 2 weeks, we had 2 deaths in the family. One on her side (unexpected) and one on my side (expected but still sad). A lot of emotions and stress in the house. My wife has not seen her therapist in 3 weeks and she seemed ok. However the other night the phone rang and we both didn't recognize the number so she answered it. It was her therapist asking her if she wants to make an appointment and why he hasn't heard from her. After the phone call she went into a mini nervous breakdown. She stated she doesn't ever want to see him again and she just wishes she could tell him that.

    Then the anger was directed toward me saying she is changed as a person (and not for the better) and it is my fault. She never uses swear words but used the "f" word three times that day. This all started when we went to marriage counseling to find out why she doesn't want to be intimate and 2 therapist later (one marriage counselor and one psychotherapist) here we are. It is like she has been awoken from a long nap and the fire and emotion I have never seen is here. However, that emotion is directed toward me and all I want her to do is for her to get better.

    Her appointment with her therapist is Wednesday and I know on Tuesday she will start with the rage. I have emailed her therapist and told him what is going on in our lives and that she is greatly afraid of him at this point. Any advice anyone? If I didn't truly love her so much and am greatly attracted to her I would try to leave but I can't. I am truly being tortured because I just want to hold her and make everything go away but I can't. The thing that hurts the most is that she feels I have done this to her. I want nothing more for her to be happy. Does that mean she would be better off without me? I am confused, lonely and stressed.
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