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.
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
There’s no way to know how long a triggered or symptomatic state will last, especially if this is her first one.

With my partner I’ve seen a trigger last less than an hour and I’ve seen one last weeks. He’s been highly symptomatic for over a year before. PTSD is so individual, plus it’s cyclical. It comes and goes. There’s no way to predict how long it’s going to last OR even if it will get better this time. Some people bottom out for years, and some have long periods where they do awesome.

She may never get “better”… she could very easily get worse.

That’s why boundaries are so important for supporters. Even if you’re not together, you have to coparent. Set those boundaries and stick to them. Don’t let her suck you under.
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
I’m still hoping for reconciliation

I get it. Only you can decide when you’re actually done-done wanting to be with her.

It’s a heartbreaker, for sure. Divorce sucks, especially if you aren’t the one initiating it. And it sucks even more when you break up because of a mental health issue that seems like it’s hijacking your spouse.
 
I’m still hoping for reconciliation
I’m new here and not trying to break any rules but this sounds so much like my situation I want to chime in. I’m the ptsd one but she sounds like my ex. He said same stuff about control, quit jobs etc. I’m wondering if she was ever actually diagnosed with ptsd by a professional. I’m not necessarily saying she doesn’t have it. But maybe If she self diagnosed that is why she freaked so bad. It could also mean that is Not what is going on. PROTECT YOURSELF! If possible I’d ask for a psych evaluation and offer to do one as well. Her behavior seems very irrational. And I know you can’t diagnose people just based on reports but it sounds like other things going on to me.

I totally get the reconciliation thing too. I held out hopes on that even 7 month after I filed but the longer I stayed away the more I realized I had been in yet another abusive relationship and I’m finally getting help and coming to terms with what is going on with me too. I can say if my ex but in even half the work you are there wouldn’t have been a response like that from me. Well maybe for a day or so, but all I want is to be as good as I can be. I would not hide something like this from a therapist because it is relevant. If she’s a social worker she knows that. It’s odd.
 

throwaway13

Learning
I’m new here and not trying to break any rules but this sounds so much like my situation I want to chime in. I’m the ptsd one but she sounds like my ex. He said same stuff about control, quit jobs etc. I’m wondering if she was ever actually diagnosed with ptsd by a professional. I’m not necessarily saying she doesn’t have it. But maybe If she self diagnosed that is why she freaked so bad. It could also mean that is Not what is going on. PROTECT YOURSELF! If possible I’d ask for a psych evaluation and offer to do one as well. Her behavior seems very irrational. And I know you can’t diagnose people just based on reports but it sounds like other things going on to me.

I totally get the reconciliation thing too. I held out hopes on that even 7 month after I filed but the longer I stayed away the more I realized I had been in yet another abusive relationship and I’m finally getting help and coming to terms with what is going on with me too. I can say if my ex but in even half the work you are there wouldn’t have been a response like that from me. Well maybe for a day or so, but all I want is to be as good as I can be. I would not hide something like this from a therapist because it is relevant. If she’s a social worker she knows that. It’s odd.
She told me she was diagnosed with PTSD when she was a young adult and suffered a trauma, she told me she was “attacked” and left it at that. That was 7 years ago
 
She told me she was diagnosed with PTSD when she was a young adult and suffered a trauma, she told me she was “attacked” and left it at that. That was 7 years ago
I mean everyone is different so this means nothing in regards to her. I’ve told all of my partners things that happened to me so that they could understand triggers. I once told my ex that when he tried to get in the house at 3am after he left from a fight and I locked locked the doors that I was TERRIFIED when I did not see his truck on the cameras. It actually was there, but at 3 am hearing bumps I didn’t see it. The next time he purposely parked off camera and did it again. That should have been the final straw. He told his family he had been really afraid and I wouldn’t let him in.
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
OPs partner is diagnosed and in therapy from what he’s written. This is the first time she’s has been noticeably symptomatic and/or triggered, and she is reacting in the extreme.

I’ve told all of my partners things that happened to me so that they could understand triggers.

My partner has been pretty open about his traumas, but he has been triggered by innocent things I have done… like throwing a broken down box into the recycling bin so it was laying a certain direction.

There’s no way a supporter can avoid things like that. If their partner is going to be triggered, they’re going to be triggered. Especially if it is from routine things that nobody else would think twice about.
 

anthony

Founder
There is, yes. The simple basics is called the mirroring technique, or reflective technique, or paraphrasing, etc. Several names.

You say something, you listen, then you repeat back to them what they said in your way of understanding what they said. Add nothing else, just what they said.

It usually starts with something like, are you saying blah? Or, I'm hearing blah, is that right?

Its a question but a reflection in your words of what they've said. Its a way to get someone symptomatic, or shutdown, to start talking, as what they get back is a question that is wrapped as only what they said, which typically elicits further responses from the. It will come to no response, that is when you need to have a carefully thought out question ready to go. Nothing blaming, attacking or such, just a general question to help you understand something, then rinse and repeat.

People rarely know they're becoming trapped into this technique when used correctly. Religion are huge users of this, therapists too. Its a technique to get a person talking about what is going on with them, without really throwing anything too much at them that their brain isn't trying to process already into understanding for themselves. Basically, their brain takes this better than being bombarded with questions or statements.

Examples: Reflecting and Paraphrasing • Counselling Tutor

You can buy books on just this technique. Its mighty useful if you want to get people talking...
 
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