Relationship I think I triggered my wife’s PTSD

throwaway13

Learning
I’m pretty sure I triggered my wife’s ptsd a month ago. When we first starting getting serious 7 years ago she told me she suffered a trauma when she was a young adult and was diagnosed with ptsd. She said she was better but went to years of therapy.

Fast forward to June of this year. We are having a rough patch in our marriage. I’m pretty sure it’s due to several layers of stress in our lives that’s not being handled properly. We go to marriage counseling and I’m being portrayed as a monster. Even the therapist said something to my wife about that. I figure that the time to bring up her ptsd would be in front of a trained professional like a therapist. Big mistake, wife shuts down and now there’s a wall around her.

What’s my next steps to help us heal? Give her space? She is refusing to go back to marriage counseling.
 

Freddyt

MyPTSD Pro
Two things for you, not advice but insight maybe.

First - PTSD twists our incoming information to negative naturally. Because the big thinky part shuts off and the little fight flight freeze takes over - all it can add is negative to what comes in. I talked with my T about this yesterday and my telling my wife, Me Big Dumb Man - You Smart Lady and using straight up, non colored no messing around communication is probably why I have stayed married 35 years. That and the space to process and not go with my gut AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH reaction lets me reason why information is good bad or otherwise.

Second - fear of being triggered or having to expose what happened is a real and terrifying prospect for sufferers. That alone would put the wall up. Taking it back down may be more difficult. You may need to apologize for bringing it up and find what she needs to be able to move on. give her space and time to think about it......
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
i don't quite see how a long term relationship as intimate as marriage could **avoid** the occasional mental crisis trigger for both individuals, be the mental crisis ptsd or human imperfection. in the 42 years i've been with my husband, we've had to develop ways to manage the phenom. hubby doesn't suffer ptsd, but has psychotic spots of his very own which i trigger. passion is a VERY unpredictable emotion which swings through the entire human emotional spectrum, delightful to dreadful. above all else, hubby and i remain quite passionate about one another. on the good days, that is a good thing. it is a preview of hell on the bad days.

social distancing and individual therapy networks have been our primary tools for managing the phenom. a healthy relationship requires healthy participants. when our mental health is in distress, we give one another enough space to ply lots and lots of self-care and recovery. in a physical analogy, two people can be hit by the same flu bug, but the recovery happens individually.

but that is me and every case is unique.

steadying support while you work your own case.
 

throwaway13

Learning
Two things for you, not advice but insight maybe.

First - PTSD twists our incoming information to negative naturally. Because the big thinky part shuts off and the little fight flight freeze takes over - all it can add is negative to what comes in. I talked with my T about this yesterday and my telling my wife, Me Big Dumb Man - You Smart Lady and using straight up, non colored no messing around communication is probably why I have stayed married 35 years. That and the space to process and not go with my gut AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH reaction lets me reason why information is good bad or otherwise.

Second - fear of being triggered or having to expose what happened is a real and terrifying prospect for sufferers. That alone would put the wall up. Taking it back down may be more difficult. You may need to apologize for bringing it up and find what she needs to be able to move on. give her space and time to think about it......
The last week I’ve been giving her a lot of space. I’m making an effort to not talk relationship for a couple of weeks to do that. Just being supportive and helping out with the kids as much as I can. I have noticed a slight improvement in her demeanor and will keep on giving her space. I’m still seeing the marriage counselor on my on, and he suggested to not bring up PTSD unless she begins the conversation about it. He also mentioned that maybe a female counselor would be better since she may perceive him as a threat or that I “outed” her to him. Which I wasn’t trying to do, I just thought that an therapist’s office would be the appropriate place to talk about it.

i don't quite see how a long term relationship as intimate as marriage could **avoid** the occasional mental crisis trigger for both individuals, be the mental crisis ptsd or human imperfection. in the 42 years i've been with my husband, we've had to develop ways to manage the phenom. hubby doesn't suffer ptsd, but has psychotic spots of his very own which i trigger. passion is a VERY unpredictable emotion which swings through the entire human emotional spectrum, delightful to dreadful. above all else, hubby and i remain quite passionate about one another. on the good days, that is a good thing. it is a preview of hell on the bad days.

social distancing and individual therapy networks have been our primary tools for managing the phenom. a healthy relationship requires healthy participants. when our mental health is in distress, we give one another enough space to ply lots and lots of self-care and recovery. in a physical analogy, two people can be hit by the same flu bug, but the recovery happens individually.

but that is me and every case is unique.

steadying support while you work your own case.
We’re both continuing individual therapy and I’m hoping this can help us out. I’m giving her plenty of space now to process.

Two things for you, not advice but insight maybe.

First - PTSD twists our incoming information to negative naturally. Because the big thinky part shuts off and the little fight flight freeze takes over - all it can add is negative to what comes in. I talked with my T about this yesterday and my telling my wife, Me Big Dumb Man - You Smart Lady and using straight up, non colored no messing around communication is probably why I have stayed married 35 years. That and the space to process and not go with my gut AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH reaction lets me reason why information is good bad or otherwise.

Second - fear of being triggered or having to expose what happened is a real and terrifying prospect for sufferers. That alone would put the wall up. Taking it back down may be more difficult. You may need to apologize for bringing it up and find what she needs to be able to move on. give her space and time to think about it......
The last week I’ve been giving her plenty of space. I might have been smothering her at first realizing what I did and I think that backfired. I saw the marriage counselor on my own and he strongly suggested not to bring up ptsd unless she initiates the conversation.
 

Freida

MyPTSD Pro
that I “outed” her to him.
yep.
This.
If hubby just randomly told someone I had ptsd I'd be furious. I mean, members of my own family, and many of my friends don't even know so for him to just blurt it out in a place where I'm already vulnerable (like a ts office) would be a total betrayal of my trust.

Not sure how you would come back from that -- but maybe just acknowledging that that you didn't mean to bring it up without talking to her first, might help? Or making a plan for how you would handle it differently in the future?
 

throwaway13

Learning
yep.
This.
If hubby just randomly told someone I had ptsd I'd be furious. I mean, members of my own family, and many of my friends don't even know so for him to just blurt it out in a place where I'm already vulnerable (like a ts office) would be a total betrayal of my trust.

Not sure how you would come back from that -- but maybe just acknowledging that that you didn't mean to bring it up without talking to her first, might help? Or making a plan for how you would handle it differently in the future?
I don’t see it as a betrayal, it was brought up in the appropriate setting next to a professional trained to deal with crisis. Her ptsd is obviously affecting our marriage so that’s why it was brought up.
 

Freida

MyPTSD Pro
I don’t see it as a betrayal, it was brought up in the appropriate setting next to a professional trained to deal with crisis. Her ptsd is obviously affecting our marriage so that’s why it was brought up.
yep -- that's the fun filled world of ptsd. Bringing it up in a therapy session makes total sense because, well, it's an issue in your marriage. But ptsd often steals our ability to see things as "sense" and instead we react totally unpredictably. As in we blame those closest to us for making us feel bad or embarrassed or whatnot.

So ya ....in a therapy session with a therapist would be the place to talk about it. But if hubby brought it up, even in that environment, without warning me first I would lose my crapola. I'd jump straight to the whole "hes blaming me for having ptsd" "he setting me up" "hes betraying my confidence" blah blah blah

Especially if I thought I had my ptsd under control and hadn't connected the dots yet that it was raising it's ugly head in my world again. Because ptsd is embarrassing and frustrating and anger inducing and makes me feel like crap and hubby just tossing it out there would be crazy making.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not excusing her behavior. Sounds like she may need to get better about defining what her triggers are and why she is so upset with you, instead of isolating. But - for many of us that's our go to when we are upset.

So think of this just as a look at the situation from the sufferer side.
 

throwaway13

Learning
yep -- that's the fun filled world of ptsd. Bringing it up in a therapy session makes total sense because, well, it's an issue in your marriage. But ptsd often steals our ability to see things as "sense" and instead we react totally unpredictably. As in we blame those closest to us for making us feel bad or embarrassed or whatnot.

So ya ....in a therapy session with a therapist would be the place to talk about it. But if hubby brought it up, even in that environment, without warning me first I would lose my crapola. I'd jump straight to the whole "hes blaming me for having ptsd" "he setting me up" "hes betraying my confidence" blah blah blah

Especially if I thought I had my ptsd under control and hadn't connected the dots yet that it was raising it's ugly head in my world again. Because ptsd is embarrassing and frustrating and anger inducing and makes me feel like crap and hubby just tossing it out there would be crazy making.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not excusing her behavior. Sounds like she may need to get better about defining what her triggers are and why she is so upset with you, instead of isolating. But - for many of us that's our go to when we are upset.

So think of this just as a look at the situation from the sufferer side.
Unpredictable is a great way to describe the last month! I will try to see it from her side, but I continued with the marriage therapist by myself for now. He made it clear to not bring up her ptsd unless she initiates that conversation.
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
@throwaway13 do not feel guilty for bringing up the problems in your marriage in marriage counseling. That is a 100% logical and appropriate response. Just because she reacts and blames does not mean that you were wrong. Marriage counseling is for you just as much as it’s for her. The world shouldn’t revolve around her and her issues in there.

This is hard for supporters to get used to. Just because something is happening in their head doesn’t mean it’s reality. Don’t apologize when you aren’t in the wrong.

“I’m sorry you feel bad”… sure. But “I’m sorry for talking about our marital problems in marriage counseling when there is confidentiality”… hell no.
 

throwaway13

Learning
@throwaway13 do not feel guilty for bringing up the problems in your marriage in marriage counseling. That is a 100% logical and appropriate response. Just because she reacts and blames does not mean that you were wrong. Marriage counseling is for you just as much as it’s for her. The world shouldn’t revolve around her and her issues in there.

This is hard for supporters to get used to. Just because something is happening in their head doesn’t mean it’s reality. Don’t apologize when you aren’t in the wrong.

“I’m sorry you feel bad”… sure. But “I’m sorry for talking about our marital problems in marriage counseling when there is confidentiality”… hell no.
Thanks for that, I needed to see a statement like yours. It’s been such a roller coaster the last month my head is spinning.
 
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