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I Wonder About My Other Half - The Effects Of PTSD On Relationships

Discussion in 'Relationships' started by Andrea42, Jan 17, 2007.

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  1. Andrea42

    Andrea42 Active Member

    Hi everyone. :hello:
    My husband has PTSD.
    I rarely post in this section of the forum...but i am in need of advice and I would like a better understanding about everyday life & married life from the members who have PTSD and are married or in relationships.
    Considering i read everything in the "spouse" section...Alot of venting goes on about how hard things are for us supporters and how horrible days can be when dealing with PTSD. Today, I feel the need to get a better understanding if possible of course of how it is for our other half. From my own experience, I feel my husband is distant, very detached, on edge, I see a lot of anger and he struggles with trust. We don’t talk much so that’s about all I can say…. I wish we were closer and we would talk more….
    I as the supporter feel distant as well now… I feel depressed, anxious, I feel much rejected which makes me angry (romance and intimacy is non-exsistant) and last but not least it leads to feeling very alone.
    Sometimes I feel like he doesn’t love me anymore because of his emotional numbing, his attempts to isolate himself, and his lack of interest in things we had done together. I believe him now…I am almost at the conclusion that I am incapable of being loved.

    I love my husband, and I feel horrible that I cannot do a thing to take this PTSD monster and destroy it! For good!!

    I wonder how my better half (I call him) feels about me?! About what we go through…about what he puts me through and how he makes me feel when he doesn’t talk to me, or when he feels distant… I wonder if he really understands the damage in the things he tells me when they are hurtful or I wonder how he feels when he is not honest just so that I don’t get my feelings hurt?! I wonder….. What is he keeping inside that he won’t tell me? and why does he talk to everybody else :( Is it that bad to be around me?? Does he still love me? Is he in love with me or does he just care a lot about me?? Not sure if he even needs me (doubt he does) does he still want to be married to me? Or am I just too much stress now and he is just living day by day and whatever happens happens? Does that mean we have no chance at a future together?? I am so lost… I wish I had my husband to talk to…It would help me out so much...
    I live with these questions in my head everyday

    All in all….this is a pointless thread.

    I have been told…and I already know that people with PTSD don’t/cant really start to worry about anything else until they are better. Until they conquer the battle of PTSD and have it under control. I guess I am screwed. :crazy:

    I wonder how spouses with PTSD feel about us (the supporters) staying.
    TerriB8511 and JM318 like this.
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  3. Andre

    Andre Active Member

    I do not know how applicable what I can say is, I have never been married and I am younger than most here. For background I was hit by a van while crossing the street about eight years ago, with massive injuries from it. There are other complications for me, but PTSD is one of the major components. When I returned to the requirements of the life I had before, when I saw the people I cared about before it happened, I still cared about them. When I saw the woman I loved before it, I still loved her. It ate away at me that I could not express how much I felt for them. I wanted to tell them even though I could not express it, but I dared not suggest that my feelings remained the same as they had been because I could not trust that I would live through the day or see tomorrow. It was six and a half years before I began to recover enough to be more open about these feelings, and I still struggle with expressing my affection even now that I do not experience many direct symptoms. I do feel the need, the desire to express my feelings but there is still a gap between my desires and my abilities to express myself this way. Sometimes I am very intense, others I can not help but fail to express my feelings adequately or at all. If your husband is like I was or like I am now, he does still love you but he can not express it or express it fully; the other part is that even after he conquers more of the problems he faces I think he will still need time to relearn how to express love consistently.
  4. anthony

    anthony Silently Watching Founder

    The only way of knowing that question, is to ask him.
    To be honest, he likely feels very guilty about this. The reason most PTSD sufferers leave their spouses is not because they stopped loving them, but instead because of the guilt they feel in believing they are dragging their spouse down with them, the life they are imposing upon their spouse, just by their spouse staying with them. Its a double edged sword Andrea, it really is. The sufferer feels immense guilt and remorse for being ill, hopelessness that they cannot control what goes on within them. We lash out to intentionally push partners away from us, to try and limit the hurt endured by them, but within that same concept, we actually hurt our partners anyway by doing so.
    His trauma, his emotional impact, his negative feelings that are eating away at him. He believes that because they are eating away at him, if he shared them with the person he loves the most, they will then eat away at you also. He believes that by telling you the pain he is suffering, you will suffer the same pain, and that scares the hell out of him, hence why we push partners away, not bring them closer. The turmoil his mind is creating within him is unexplainable, to say the least. He knows the options, and the ones a sufferer choose are near text book.
    He does, he just doesn't want you to suffer the pain he is, yet he can't see the pain he is causing you by not being open with you about his trauma. He is weighing up both sides, again the choices are near text book for all sufferers, as we don't want those we love the most to endure the pain we suffer. It really is quite ironic when you look at it, damned if you do, damned if you don't. This is part of the chaos being caused inside of him.
    Not at all Andrea... he just can't see past the moment he lives at present. The facts are, he must heal his trauma, otherwise this situation will only get worse, not better. The best way to talk with a PTSD sufferer, is in bed, laying down, relaxed, no sex to occur, just chat then. Why? Because their mind is no longer focused on a specific event, ie. TV, radio, Internet, but soon sleep. It is the best place to talk with them, not at one another, not question one another, but simply share self perceptions, own perceptions, but try and limit anything that will cause more stress at that time. For example; good conversation would be reading this, then feeding this back to him with a question after the information has flowed, "is this what you feel or not?" The wrong type of question would be; do you love me? or; why don't you pay me attention anymore! Those are questions that will lead to stress.

    The idea to get him to open up, is to know the answers first, then feed those answers to him as your own self thoughts, and see how he responds. There is a wealth of information from sufferers here, you read it all the time when someone says something, and sufferer after sufferer all respond with the same things, "I thought it was just me" type statements. Armed with knowledge how he feels, because we all feel the same thing, use that knowledge to engage conversation about that topic. Take one topic a night, or every couple of nights, and use the answers you have here as questions for him, that way he will think you truly do understand what is going on within him, thus he may just speak a bit more about things.

    Now, you know your husband best... if he chats best sitting on the lounge with a coffee each, then do that instead of in bed laying down.
    TerriB8511 likes this.
  5. Andrea42

    Andrea42 Active Member

    Thank You

    Thank you for the reply Andre.
    I don’t expect alot of people to respond to this thread...nobody likes to talk about this type of stuff i have noticed, including my husband. He will most likely be the last to read it! lol The point of this was simply to get a reaction…maybe even to see if people can realize what is going on around them.…from experience I think its important to let those around you know that you still love and want them in your life regularly if not, people (like myself) get the wrong idea. The arguing starts and everything goes down hill from there. If you are going to be married to someone why would you want nothing to do with them? Why be distant? And make them feel rejected when they wait right there by your side??? I know its hard but I am glad that you are finally doing better Andre… at least you are able to finally use the word “feelings” and I can see that you are trying…im guessing my husband is not at that point yet unfortunately… he gets very frustrated when I start talking about “feelings”… its frustrating to me too…thank you for helping me understand… I appreciate your input.

    You always make a lot of sense and you always say all the right things….but when I say that I wonder how he feels… I mean I have asked him many times, and in many different ways…I have “tried” to start conversations days and nights and in bed and at the dinner table, while watching tv lol you name it…and he gets angry (I have noticed my hubby gets angry when he doesn’t want to deal with something, and when he does not want to answer me..is he going to do this forever??
    The most recent answer I got was “why do you need to know” WTF?! Uhhhh if I was not in doubt I wouldn’t have to ask right? Does that make sense to anybody else??
    Im not too sure about the whole “feeling guilty” thing because he tells me that I am nothing but drama and I just feel that this time he is all about working on himself only. Don’t get me wrong, I want my husband to be better but it seems that he does not feel about me as he once did… I just wonder why he cannot be honest with me… just say it!! I hate being left in the dark… and I have been for a long time now..

    That’s the thing about “conversation” you make it sound so easy Anthony
    No matter how we start it we usually end up fighting….why? Either because I take something the wrong way, or he doesn’t explain this point or because he doesn’t answer me and just continues to watch tv and then tells me “what”…or because he says something hurtful… its always something (usually I take things the wrong way, or mix them up and make sense of it in my own way which is not his point)
    Seriously, is it really hard to answer?
    “What do you like about me as a person?”
    “What do you love about me?”
    “Do you need me in life?”
    “What makes you want to stay married to me?”
    I can answer all those questions….would you be able to? If your wife asked you?? or would you give her the blank stare that i get and then get asked questions like "what do you mean" and why are you asking me this?"
    Hell, maybe its me…………….
  6. Andre

    Andre Active Member

    In the first years after I was injured, I had very great difficulty even conceiving of what emotions where, what sentimental concepts really meant when people used them in conversation or I read related phrases. I had to find some concrete definitions to use to even be able to understand what was being asked with the sort of questions that you have been asking your husband, Andrea. I suspect that he genuinely may not be able to understand what you are actually asking and that an effort to hide that detail he may be too embarrassed to admit could be behind some of his anger. I know that I became a very harsh person. If someone approached a subject like whether I remembered something or not I would ignore them and refuse to acknowledge that I heard anything to hide from it. I was ashamed of the faults in my memory as a weakness and embarrassed that giving any answer would mean displaying my weakness. I am more passive in my disposition, so I can imagine that someone who is more aggressive might respond with anger instead. Maybe it will help you to consider this as a partial cause of his anger and respond to him like he said something like this instead.
  7. Andrea42

    Andrea42 Active Member

    wow Andre.. what you just said makes so much sense to me at the moment or i guess i would like for it to be the case in a way.. i just wish i could hear it from him if that was the deal. He seems to be very clueless about everything in his life that has to do with me though.. thats what scares me. The anger part? i guess he just doesnt put up with my crap anymore...which is understandable. He is military and has been to Iraq.... But yes, sometimes when i do ask him these things i just really wish he would tell me whats up with him so that i do not stress myself or him so much....thank you so much for your help Andre
  8. becvan

    becvan Queen of the Blunt! Premium Member


    If someone asked me those questions on the spot, I would get angry or shut down too. You are putting an aweful lot of pressure on him when he can't handle it. Those are questions that anyone with PTSD would have difficulty with, especially with an irate spouse. Also, he's watching TV and doesn't hear you and goes "what?" That is classic dissassociation. He is zoning out to cope. You are fighting because he can't handle it and your pushing him. I realize that you need some reassurance, but the harder you push, the farther you are pushing him away. Everything you have mentioned and been very angry about is all PTSD symptoms. Yes, we do need to be dealt with differently, that is just a fact. I realize this might be a hard pill to swallow but, if your current behaviours are not working perhaps try changing your methods to suit the disorder?

  9. Andrea42

    Andrea42 Active Member

    Change my behaviors? so what should i do? stop asking him and keep living confused about what my husband thinks of me??? i really dont feel like wasting anymore time to be honest...he has been weird with me for too long...he has his PTSD uuder control recently (from what he has said) so i dont see why a question is so horrible....why would you get angry??? there is no reason for it!! and why shouldnt i get angry?? i have been wondering for so long! why the hell not just take a minute, think about an answer and give it to me! am i that horrible for asking?? come on now... you guys are still human right??
  10. Claire

    Claire Well-Known Member

    Your questions are simple to you and its fair to need them answering but for your husband I think they may cause confusion. When someone has PTSD they are so engrossed in fighting everything internally, they are in total turmoil. Trying to answer a question about an emotion is almost impossible. One way of dealing with this by shutting down from emotions. Becoming numb. One way to explain it which fits with my own experience is that I feel very young (around age 4-5). I feel only very basic emotions eg. happy, sad, good, bad, like, hate, safe, dangerous. Its very black and white and hard to put into words. Note: "love" is not one of them. Thats not because it doesn't exist, its just too complicated to understand. I would find your questions too difficult, I would get angry and if I was numb then I just wouldn't know the answer and that would make me more angry. By asking your husband these questions you are taking him away from the safety he has created for himself. I guess he is protecting himself with anger and numbness. You are asking him to leave this protection and go to an area of himself that is totally unprotected and in turmoil, very frightening and hard to be in and confusing.
  11. hannah

    hannah Active Member

    Andrea - just read your thread and it could have been a home video of our recent past! Pretty much exact phrases and reactions. I had no understanding of his behavior and I "filled my head with alternative scenarios" did loads of damage to me and to him. God I feel your frustration.

    but if I can give you a pearl of wisdom - take a breath- and really consider your actions as they will have consequences. I know.

    My situation is much calmer now hes out of the house but god I miss him so much.

    Take a breath - try a more detatched approach. Veiled gave an analogy on here of a frightened animal. God its hard but treat him like a "rabied dog "

    hard title I know but - let him calm and be in control.

    My husband is out of the country - back in the military environment. Hes in his comfort zone and he is having conversations with me!!!! not much content but actually speaking words about our family and home!

    I still want to "demand" more but I know where that got me previously.
    Angry, upset and searated! Not nice - try a different approach for your sake and his - I bet he wont leave you unless you push him. If you calm yourself and see if it works. What have you got to lose.

    then if you feel youve tried enough it will be your decision - dont push - Im learning and it all looks differently after the volcano exploded. Hope this helps - if nothing else - I understand exactly what you are experiencing.
  12. permban0077

    permban0077 Policy Enforcement Banned

    Just because you have it under control is hardly the same as healed. I have my symptoms "under control" for the most part too. I don't have as many nightmares... Last night was the end of the world nightmare, literally the end of the world and I was wondering if I was a chicken if I copped out and took extra meds. I had a rough day and fought all day before that not to take a little extra to calm me. I don't often have the full blown panic attacks that I had daily, just mild ones more often. I don't wake in panic every night. I am able and do get out of bed now in the morning instead of going to bed in the morning. I can cook and clean. I get out of my home. There is a list of things I can do and feel differently about.

    Trick is that I have a very delicate balancing act in my home life that I balance. I gauge how much of what I can handle and go from there. If something is too upsetting or stressful the house of cards comes down but I can put it back up a little more quickly, instead of weeks at a time lost I can get back up in a day or two; if the same issue is present I crash again and get up again but until I find a way to resolve it it does not stop. Now if through all this I had my husband constantly and key word seriously asking me these things, as he does but he does it playful and sees I am obviously annoyed. He laughs and says that bugs the hell out of you doesn't it? Uh yeah. It is highly annoying.

    I did not respond earlier as hell it has been said over and over what we go through all over the forum. Even if it is "under control" he is still has it, it will not change. He has not healed yet. There is no telling what is going through someone's head when you pop off with why do you love me, do you love me... You snap out of your memory or whatever zoned out emotional phase you are in to "why do you love me..." If my husband asked seriously I would look at him like he was an idiot and think WTF? I am here and I stay, I did not "run away" from home, I am not name calling, I am not lashing out at him with my emotions like I used to as I have it "under control", that will just have to be enough as that is what I have to give. And for mine that seems to be.

    I am sure my husband would love the "frisky" and doting woman I was when we met, but then he would also have the woman who drank like a fish and have to pop 10 mg xanax a day. Now luckily he has researched it and takes what he has read seriously. He has listened to me that I need a gentle hand at times. Is he a saint? Hell no, he went around slamming cabinets and snapping at me yesterday morning. Every cabinet door sent me higher and higher and played into my stress of the day I could take and I was a wreck all day with headaches come on and a jittery shaky mess on edge. What stress has he dealt with that day that you may be unaware of especially since he is working again before he is hit with the line of questioning? All you are doing is trying to put out a fire with a can of gas at that point.

    This is the thing I do not get. Why do you have to be told constantly how perfect you are for staying with those with PTSD? Everyone knows and acknowledges you go through a lot. You have to take care of you first to give to him. Same thing here, he has to take care of him first to have anything to give to you. I am lucky in the fact my husband cares for my health more than being told how great he is daily. My husband doesn't have to tell me he loves me every five minutes. I look around me and get it. He is still here, he has had me in treatment, he does not pressure for sex, he has taken the time to understand PTSD and treats me accordingly. Does he want to strangle me, sure, I bet he does but he keeps that to himself. I don't have to ask if he loves me. Actions speak louder than words. He obviously does since he cares more for my health more than to pressure me with the things you may with a spouse who does not have PTSD.

    He knows I will never be the same. I know WE will never be the same. But it is all new and the more he backs off the more I can come out. The more I can work on healing. The more I actually heal the more I have to offer back. Thankfully he is willing to give that space to let me, though he has his moments too that piss me off to no end. After all we are all human.

    Just remember controlling your symptoms is a far cry from healed. He has to heal some to start controlling symptoms effectively. But once you heal you move to managing. How much of what you can do and face a day. Once you have really done that you can take on more normal daily issues, but it will not change PTSD and the fact he has it and will have symptoms still if he pushes himself too hard. But in my mind, me zoning out or me unable to get a cycle of thoughts out of my head is more important than the "do you love me... why?" When you are sucked into the emotions of bloodshed and touching death it is way more emotional for the PTSD person and you can't help but look at your partner with the "wtf?" expression and be annoyed. As it is just so simple compared to what he may currently be sucked into emotionally. And well wanting us to talk about it. That is normal for us not to want to. That is just a simple fact of the situation.

    Ask yourself do you love you? No doubt you have to have a strong sense of self esteem not to take PTSD personally and turn the typical symptoms of PTSD as a personal attack or neglect on you. Again like always take care of you first. But don't get upset when he has to do the same. He has a disorder and it is obviously going to take more time. He is living in a mental prison and emotional hell and then you get hit with "do you love me..." See why it is annoying as shit? I can promise you one thing, if any of us knew where an off switch was so we could flip it and be normal we would do it in a heart beat, we don't like this. And see it took me 2 days to respond to something of this nature and really think about it, and best yet not think about it. Mental break was needed and I can imagine it is needed in the home too.
  13. becvan

    becvan Queen of the Blunt! Premium Member

    well, I've thought and I've mulled, I've considered.. How tooo put this.. should i sugar coat it??? the answer is no.. you posted this in ptsd chat. and your gonna get the real deal here..

    Enough is enough.. You just do not like what you are hearing do you? Everyone who has answered you, here and in the spouse thread, has repeatedly told you what YOU need to do.. You need to back off, you need to start listening when it comes to PTSD and learning about it and treating your partner in a different manner if you want your marriage to survive and if you want your husband to have the SLIGHTEST chance in hell of healing. But, that isn't what you want to hear is it? The way I see it, the only thing you are concerned about is yourself. You want your husband to magically change back or become something different to suit your needs. Guess what? You are not the one with a dibiltating, life threatening disorder. He is. You are very needy with your demands for answers and being told that he loves you. He can't give it. You are going to have dig deep in yourself and resolve your self-esteem issues and start giving yourself some love instead of demanding things from someone you know is incapable of meeting those demands. This is not to say he doesn't love you, but the way that you are approaching it is just going to shove him away.. Is that your plan? make him leave so that he is the bad guy? How dare he get PTSD and have his needs change?

    You can cop an attitude with me all you want and imply that I have no feelings. You can call me names. but I call a spade a spade. Truth hurts honey. I will not BOTHER to post in this thread or any other you create covering this same subject again. Enough is enough. You know what you need to do so either do it or get off the pot.

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