Relationship Couples Therapy

tuxedo1210

New Here
Maybe this is a result of rehab or therapy. He’s learning about processing emotions without unhealthy coping mechanisms? That is a new factor, right? Even if he’s not doing it in the healthiest way by isolating at least he isn’t drinking.

I don’t know you or him at all, all I can do is tell you that this is the way my sufferer reacts to stress. He shuts down and isolates. If he thought there was a possibility that he was being reported to the cops for anything, he’d spiral. There’s not much I can do when he isolates except give him some space.
Thank you for sharing all this info! Much appreciated :) I don’t mean to come off like I’m blaming him for everything. It’s just really intense right now and I do feel manipulated and stonewalled etc.

This wasn’t just isolation, sadly. This was like anger and hatred directed at me like burn holes through you type anger. This wasn’t “I just need to cool down.” He’s been very angry towards me about emotions/feelings since coming home. Anything I say about my needs, feelings or the relationship is met with stonewalling and just mean hateful things said to me before it even gets past me saying “I feel….” I feel it’s transference type behavior. He often says to me in regards to not speaking to his family “well, it doesn’t matter because I don’t talk to my dad and my moms dead.” Usually when he’s very irritated, never in a calm convo……I don’t think those happen anymore except for if we talk about what we need from the store lol
 
Hello @tuxedo1210 , welcome.

Just a thought but I have to agree with this:

If he thought there was a possibility that he was being reported to the cops for anything, he’d spiral.
^^ I think this has a monumental impact and may feel like a betrayal, especially since you say:
. He started alcohol addiction treatment and is now about 6 months out in recovery doing really well. He still has a lot of issues with emotional intimacy, trust, being vulnerable with me etc. He is a pleasant partner and is very caring but can be emotionally abusive when triggered if i ask for any emotional need- I even use "I" statements.
He is relatively new to his recovery, and from all the other things you mentioned I would think overwhelmed. (Stonewalling usually results from flooding).

I realize no abuse is acceptable, but perhaps now is not the time to focus on apologies, unless that is a deal breaker for you. Even 'I' statements (from anyone) can sometimes actually be (or be interpreted as) blaming. But perhaps a conversation about how you both are feeling might help? A very gentle one.
It’s just so hard to deal with it since I do deserve an apology (that I’m not expecting at this point because I’ll never get it) and to be validated for the pain I suffered from him.
My dad got sober (he also seemed to have ptsd and had criterion A trauma that I know, but I do not know if he did) and once said to me mom "I can never make it up to you". She said actually, he couldn't, but she would never say that. (And she giggled). He said he couldn't believe (his words) how 'nuts' he was thinking after one year, compared to later. But he spent the rest of his life absolutely head over heels in love with her, and her him too, really. They went forward. He did do everything he could, but she also never held it over his head. It is a monumental battle, without ptsd and grief, and abuse, and any other reasons for the ptsd. The pain is real for both of you, even for different reasons. Something like AlAnon or another support for you may be helpful, if you would consider such a thing. It too is a safe place to talk about your feelings

I also am not inferring your feelings aren't valid and justified. But I think the T's comments as per that incident really weren't helpful, all other things considered, or with the words he used were not interpreted as intended, and possibly all that your husband is focusing on atm. I think, if possible, it's very important you both know you are in each other's corner, have zero abuse tolerance, but can be a safe place for each other.

Please disregard if not helpful. It is a very painful place to be in, to be targeted and have your own needs go unseen and dismissed. PTSD doesn't give a pass for that, but some things have better timing. Only you know what is tolerable for you, and why it is or is not. but I believe you posted here to try to find a solution, or understand his anger, and that might be a possibility. But only he knows for sure. And only you know how much damage has been done, or what you can live with and for how long (and already have).

Best wishes to you both.
 
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Friday

Moderator
Anything I say about my needs, feelings or the relationship is met with stonewalling and just mean hateful things said to me before it even gets past me saying “I feel….”
I’d reeeeeeally suggest working with a couples T who understands trauma at a minimum, but ideally specializing in PTSD relationships.

Because your needs, feelings, & your relationship DO need to be able to be addressed. Full stop.

But? I can’t think of a stupider way to do so with someone with PTSD, than standard rational-emotive non-violent communication. And if this is what your therapist has recommended? They’re clueless as to the challenges YOU are facing, dealing with someone with a trauma & stressors disorder.

“When YOU ……I FEEL” is far more Molotov cocktail thrown into a hayloft soaked in gasoline kind of thing, than a de-escalation tool.

I’ll absolutely use it with neurotypical people with nothing of note going on in their lives to keep things chill and focused. As manipulation techniques go, it can be totally badass, in the right time & place & situation. But I won’t even use it with neurotypical people who are in mild distress, much less someone with PTSD. Not unless I’m attempting to provoke them to violence, or vanishing.

***

ETA… When you’re dealing with traumatized brains it’s often (not always) like dealing with your bestie who has just been cheated on, or whose mother has just died, or who is giving birth, or who is puking their guts up in a toilet. <<< None of which means that you cannot or should not have serious talks about your relationship, or demand an apology, or be discussing fun future plans, or want them to listen and support you through a difficult time. But it very much becomes a question of timing & approach.

>>> So how would you approach a conversation where you’re mad at someone who is bawling their eyes out over their mother dying, their beloved rat cheating bastard has (then storming about ranting), or who is puking, or giving birth?

Ideally, of course, you wait until they’re not in the thick of it. But

- how the hell are you even supposed to know they’re in the thick of it half the time? (It’s not like you can see them, like you can see your bestie doing Lamaze breathing, or suddenly lunging for the toilet).

- what if it lasts for hours/days/weeks when you want to tell them right durn NOW? Or today? Or this week? Or FFS, we’ve been trying to talk about this for months! 😖

Speaking as a sufferer? It reeeeally doesn’t seem like that long. Because puking/giving birth/grieving/being in the PTSD badlands reeeeeally does eat up all my available energy/attention/ability to think… and the MOMENT I’ve got spare anything? It’s given to the people I’ve been needing to connect with, and just haven’t been able to.

But speaking as a supporter? OMFG. Seriously?!? This is the 5th time you’ve chewed me out for shit that ain’t my fault (today 😖, umpteen this week🤬), and I have paaaaaaatiently been waiting as you are perfectly fine with everyone else, and will not pull your head out of your ass for even 5 minutes for me, and spend hours & days & weeks having a grand ole time doing everything else BUT have this stupid 2 minute conversation and aaaaaaaaargh. Brick wall. Bang head. And now you’re sulking?!? Take a shower. Eat something. Go for a run. Do the shit you know would make you feel better, or man the f*ck up, suck it up, and for the love of Mike let’s just f*cking DO this already…

Yeah.

2 very different concepts of time are involved w depending on which side of the equation I’m sitting on. Even when I very much know it’s a blink on the one side, and an eternity on the other side.

Part of what working with a couples therapist who specializes in PTSD, or trauma disorders, mental illness in general does? Is to help to reconcile not just the life stuff in marriage & family counseling, but also to help reconcile the 2 very different worlds in play… where the same problems are effecting each person very differently.
 
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tuxedo1210

New Here
When YOU ……I FEEL” is far more Molotov cocktail thrown into a hayloft soaked in gasoline kind of thing, than a de-escalation tool.

I have learned to not use “when YOU….”
I stay with just an “I feel isolated when this happens…..” ( just a random example). There is no “when you…” involved as even without therapy I realize that wouldn’t be well received. Obvi, that isn’t always used but majority I stay in that realm. The therapist hasn’t suggested using “when you….I feel.”

Thank you for your insight! Everyone has been so helpful! Our relationship didn’t start out with addiction nor did I know he had that extent of abuse in his past. His way of living was to just be happy at all costs and shove everything down inside into non-existence. A very narrow window of emotions that he could/can tolerate. I understand that as much as I can. Once I moved in with him, the CPTSD came out more and more as he is very controlling (controlling of his emotional comfort and anything hard or stressful is scary, which I understand) and manipulative to keep that tight control over his own emotions and those around him especially at home. He has worked with his therapist a lot and it’s better than it used to be in regards to occurrences but the intensity now is what gets really tough. He was betrayed in some way by every partner in his past so I do get the betrayal concept. The intensity of this particular incident was unlike any other and there have been some doozies! This wasn’t just isolation. This was hatred, intense anger, disgust etc and I have to admit, I was afraid. Sorry if this is all choppy lol I’m just getting used to the platform :) And thanks again for your insight!
 
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Sweetpea76

Moderator
Welcome to PTSD Supporterland. Keep you hands and arms in the ride at all times, because they will get bitten off.

I’ve been with my partner for a decade, and he still does wtf things. They don’t even know why they do what they do, so there’s no way we can. We just get used to patterns and deviations, then roll with it. Your guy is just in a deviation right now… that may turn into a pattern. You get to wait and see… isn’t that fun?

Seriously though, I’d just give him a little time to snit himself out without worrying too much. Worry when he actually takes some kind of action.
 

Freida

MyPTSD Pro
So first up - I'll echo what SRG said -- ptsd does not give us the right to be abusive. Period.

And kudos to you for making sure he understood that was a one and done -- if he repeated it you would leave.

So I'm a big isolatore - especially if I'm pissed off because, well, I have no idea what to do with these emotions and I don't want to make it worse by opening my mouth. So that part makes sense to me.

Here's my guess (and yep, just a guess).

Having a t call him out like that? Basically a third party pointing out to him that he acted like an abusive alcoholic? And that it was bad enough that it needed to be reported? Ya - embarrassing, shameful, WTF, guilty, blahblah. It might be that rock bottom that AA talks about -- where you have to face who you have become because you refuse to face your demons.

None of this excuses his behavior - but it might explain it. Or he might just be a total ass who wants someone to control to make himself feel better and he's been caught. What matters is he needs to sort it out in a way that doesn't lead to him taking it out on you.
 

tuxedo1210

New Here
So first up - I'll echo what SRG said -- ptsd does not give us the right to be abusive. Period.

And kudos to you for making sure he understood that was a one and done -- if he repeated it you would leave.

So I'm a big isolatore - especially if I'm pissed off because, well, I have no idea what to do with these emotions and I don't want to make it worse by opening my mouth. So that part makes sense to me.

Here's my guess (and yep, just a guess).

Having a t call him out like that? Basically a third party pointing out to him that he acted like an abusive alcoholic? And that it was bad enough that it needed to be reported? Ya - embarrassing, shameful, WTF, guilty, blahblah. It might be that rock bottom that AA talks about -- where you have to face who you have become because you refuse to face your demons.

None of this excuses his behavior - but it might explain it. Or he might just be a total ass who wants someone to control to make himself feel better and he's been caught. What matters is he needs to sort it out in a way that doesn't lead to him taking it out on you.
Thank you for all of this! I am struggling with a lot of things especially right now. I feel very isolated and quite frankly not important (emotionally, mentally, etc). He’s suffered betrayal by 4 of his last partners that is very significant so I do get the feeling betrayed by me part. He did apologize today for getting so upset. So that was huge except I wasn’t in the best mood and all in my feelings about how he’s hurt me, the things that really created a trust issue (some that I haven’t mentioned but are significant).

As a side note, does your partner ever feel like you just don’t really like them? I ask because through all the triggers etc, I just feel ambivalence from him and I just don’t know how to decipher if it’s just the walls he puts up to protect himself or if it’s truly me. I feel he was always “searching” for something or someone at a critical turning point in our relationship (COVID and the addiction starting). I’ve just been so confused and my needs are not met or it feels like I’m just appeased. It makes sense that he keeps walls up and has a hard time with feelings and emotions but that’s not an excuse to make your partner feel unnecessary or like you don’t even think investing in them is necessary. 🤷‍♀️
 

Friday

Moderator
As a side note, does your partner ever feel like you just don’t really like them? I ask because through all the triggers etc, I just feel ambivalence from him and I just don’t know how to decipher if it’s just the walls he puts up to protect himself or if it’s truly me. I feel he was always “searching” for something or someone at a critical turning point in our relationship (COVID and the addiction starting). I’ve just been so confused and my needs are not met or it feels like I’m just appeased. It makes sense that he keeps walls up and has a hard time with feelings and emotions but that’s not an excuse to make your partner feel unnecessary or like you don’t even think investing in them is necessary. 🤷‍♀️
Know you were directing this @Freida, but I wanted to hit on it, a moment. 😎 Because it’s one of those quirky things where the same sorta of symptoms? Are handled differently by EVERY personality involved. Both sufferer and supporter.

For example?

This is something I don’t deal well with as a supporter IF my observations/suggestions are discounted (no matter how correct they may be), &/or totally wrong (which happens!).

Meaning if I tilt my head & go… “You need something / are looking for something. How bout you XYZ or ABC for awhile?”

((Or, before I know them well enough to make suggestions, ask them to kick it around with me, or tell me what they need/want they’re not doing right now, dial me into where their head & heart is at, & what they need/want.))

If I’m consistently reading someone wrong? That’s going to spell the end of the relationship. Ditto If I’m right but they’re blowing up at me in response, lying to me (including just telling me what I want to hear), or misreading ME & my intent in bringing shit up.

So, for me, it’s one of those things I have a VERY narrow window of tolerance on. Otherwise, it’s difficult enough to quickly become a dealbreaker.

***

Conversely, as a sufferer, most of the people I’ve dated tend to looooove this about me; instead of being hurt or bothered about it. But I also tend to date very alpha/dominant men. So the fact that I tend to get distant/disconnected a few times a year? Means that they “get” to have The Chase! as an intermittant/ongoing part of our relationship.

Whilst I can understand that, intellectually? It’s not the way I operate / I don’t get turned on or excited by “getting” to pursue/seduce/win someone. Ever. Much les over and over and over, again.

Which is very much a vivre la difference! win for me… as most of the blokes I’ve had lasting relationships with? Very much do.

So, it’s a very good thing -for me- that the people I date, whilst we usually share the same brand of crazy? Have very different personalities & needs/wants/desires than I do. I’d HATE dating me.

***

But which also means there’s no real “you’re doing it right/wrong”, or some universally wrong/right way to go about it. There’s really only the way you & your partner are going about it, and what works/doesn’t work.
 
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scout86

MyPTSD Pro
Know you were directing this @Freida, but I wanted to hit on it, a moment. 😎 Because it’s one of those quirky things where the same sorta of symptoms? Are handled differently by EVERY personality involved. Both sufferer and supporter.
Boy is THAT ever true!
As a side note, does your partner ever feel like you just don’t really like them? I ask because through all the triggers etc, I just feel ambivalence from him and I just don’t know how to decipher if it’s just the walls he puts up to protect himself or if it’s truly me.
Have you considered asking HIM that? At a moment when things are calm, of course. I ask because one of my least favorite things about relationships is trying to figure out what's going on with the other person. Trying to imagine myself in his position, it would be pretty obvious to me that I'm some kind of monster, no one in their right mind could possibly want to be involved with me, and it's only a matter of time before this relationship goes south too etc. (Which brings up the "you can't fire me, I quit!" option.) But that's me and it's only one possibility.

It probably pays to think about how his other relationships have gone and consider the reasons, as best you know them. But keep in mind, if you're only hearing his version the actual facts might be different.
that’s not an excuse to make your partner feel unnecessary
I've been thinking about that. Most of the guys I've been involved with have said something like that at some point. Usually they're upset about something and they say something like "It doesn't even seem like you NEED me." To which I (hopefully mentally, not out loud) reply, "That would be because I don't." The way I grew up, "needing" someone wasn't practical. There wasn't going to be anyone THERE. "Needing" someone feels like a good way to die. On the other hand, I'm quite capable of WANTING someone in my life. And to me that seems better. If someone needs you, there's a lot of pressure. You CAN'T let them down. They are totally dependent on you. You're trapped and it's only a matter of time till you let them down and the world comes to an end. (I've come to understand that most people don't think this way, just saying it's the way I tend to think, or at least feel.) If you want someone around, you both have a choice. "Needing" feels like a trap.

I have no idea what's going on with him. Is there any chance you could just tell him that you don't know what's going on with him, maybe he doesn't either, but you'd like to understand and could he maybe talk about what's going on in his head a little? Trying to build a relationship by guessing seems really hard. Talking about stuff might be hard too, but I think your road maps of reality are too different for guessing to be very helpful.
 

Freida

MyPTSD Pro
As a side note, does your partner ever feel like you just don’t really like them?
yep. 😊
because I sometimes don't.
But part of that is that in any long relationship you have times where you just can't stand each other LOL

I think it's easy for the supporter to take isolation as "I don't want you around" which makes total sense.
Because I don't want him around.
That's what isolation is about - me separating from people. Usually the people closest to me, which I know also makes supporters nuts. The whole, "he won't talk to me but will talk to his friends" phase.


r. If someone needs you, there's a lot of pressure. You CAN'T let them down. They are totally dependent on you. You're trapped and it's only a matter of time till you let them down and the world comes to an end. (I've come to understand that most people don't think this way, just saying it's the way I tend to think, or at least feel.) If you want someone around, you both have a choice. "Needing" feels like a trap.
this.
sooo much this.

But again - at the end of the day it's not him liking or not liking you.
Its about his reactions to his issues
And what you are willing to put up with while he sorts it out
Which may take a looong time.
Think in terms of years --- once he decides he actually wants to do the work.

So ask yourself...
What are your requirements for a relationship?
And what will you do if he can't (or won't) meet those requirements?
 

tuxedo1210

New Here
Have you considered asking HIM that?
I have asked many, many times :/
I have no idea what's going on with him. Is there any chance you could just tell him that you don't know what's going on with him, maybe he doesn't either, but you'd like to understand and could he maybe talk about what's going on in his head a little?
I have asked about this in almost these exact words. Everything is seen as conflict to him or an attack. The shame is so deep that it prevents him from interacting to any great degree except the false happy world he tries to force onto me. It really feels like I’m in a dark room searching for something I’m never going to find..
yep. 😊
because I sometimes don't.
But part of that is that in any long relationship you have times where you just can't stand each other LOL

I think it's easy for the supporter to take isolation as "I don't want you around" which makes total sense.
Because I don't want him around.
That's what isolation is about - me separating from people. Usually the people closest to me, which I know also makes supporters nuts. The whole, "he won't talk to me but will talk to his friends" phase.



this.
sooo much this.

But again - at the end of the day it's not him liking or not liking you.
Its about his reactions to his issues
And what you are willing to put up with while he sorts it out
Which may take a looong time.
Think in terms of years --- once he decides he actually wants to do the work.

So ask yourself...
What are your requirements for a relationship?
And what will you do if he can't (or won't) meet those requirements?
I’m currently working on those or rather how to express those without causing a catastrophe with my individual therapist. I have said requirements and I do believe he is covertly emotionally abusive so I get told I’m fighting with him all the time 🤷‍♀️He has so pmuch shame (understandably) about having CPTSD and abusive parents that it prevents him from seeing how it shows up in our relationship. He won’t even acknowledge that it isn’t either one of us that’s at fault but it’s just not helping us. I Just don’t think he’s ready to deal with what really needs dealt with. And that is completely his choice to make. That is all I’ve asked about the trauma is to talk about ways it shows up and how we can handle it when it does (even asking how I can support him better). He can’t even admit that it is a problem and if I even try in the most empathetic way to approach, he says I’m “holding it against him.” I can’t even get an explanation just so I can understand what he means when he says that. I feel like I’m the enemy and the target of a lot of built up resentments that preceded me :/
because I sometimes don't.
But part of that is that in any long relationship you have times where you just can't stand each other LOL
I married my HS boyfriend prior to this and we were together for 28 years (we were 16 when we started dating) so I definitely have experience wi to a long term relationship and how those grow, evolve, etc. I never had the urge to not be around him nor him I 🤷‍♀️ I guess that’s just something new for me.
I think it's easy for the supporter to take isolation as "I don't want you around" which makes total sense.
Because I don't want him around.
That's what isolation is about - me separating from people.
This is definitely where we struggle because I’m more of a problem solver, roll my sleeves up and get to work to get to the bottom of things rather than isolating (and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that fyi, it’s just not been my experience growing up nor in my previous relationship). And this is not to assume anyone that isolates isn’t a problem solver either.
 

tuxedo1210

New Here
Trying to build a relationship by guessing seems really hard. Talking about stuff might be hard too, but I think your road maps of reality are too different for guessing to be very helpful.
Yes, it is. And EFT couples therapy is one of the scientifically proven ways to help when one or both partners have childhood trauma. It’s supposed to make you more connected and understand what’s going on emotionally with each other.
If you want someone around, you both have a choice. "Needing" feels like a trap
I agree, I don’t NEED anyone. I am making a conscious effort to be in the relationship and I don’t feel like I’m needed either but I don’t know if his “not needing” is in the same way. By that I mean sometimes I think he really, really wants me to need him because of the enmeshed family and/or codependency he suffered with his mom). It just sometimes feels like he’s trying to make me codependent since that’s what he learned love is. I don’t know, I could be way off base but that’s what it feels like.
 
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