Relationship Is this his ptsd or have i been living a lie?

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A little backstory-

My husband of almost 18 years is a retired marine. He took the early retirement and has been out of the military for 4 years now. He did 5 combat tours as an infantryman, some deployments worse than others. I’m fairly certain he’s had PTSD since about 2004. Once his early retirement was approved he started the ball rolling on his medical stuff and was immediately diagnosed as having PTSD. Since then, he’s used the VA as his mental health care where they’ve prescribed him about a dozen drugs at various dosages. After about 2.5 years he stopped taking them all together and quit any therapy as he said they make him feel like a zombie and gave him side effects that required even more drugs. He felt the therapy wasn’t worth the time required. Now all he is using is prescribed testosterone for energy and medical marijuana at night to help him sleep. Things, mood wise, seemed to be going ok-ish, in relative terms. His impatience and short temper were exacerbated, but he didn’t seem very depressed and hadn’t started drinking or anything, so I remained hopeful that he would come back around to therapy once things calmed down at work.

In January he and a few partners started taking over his parents company. I work there too. His work days became consistently longer and longer until he was working about 12-18 hrs a day regularly, taking maybe 1 day off a week, if that. He worked on vacations. His partners were not doing the same, which I actively expressed my concern (bitched) about, as he was shouldering most of the work load.

Fast forward to this May. I noticed some concerning stuff, but May is generally a bad month for him (Memorial Day, etc.). I had been trying to give him space...doing the bulk of the household duties, etc. He had gone out drinking with some friends every weekend, which isn’t typical. I ended up going back home for a few days to see my brother graduate college, but I arranged my flights so that I’d be home the late afternoon on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend so I could be there as I knew he’d probably be drinking and having a hard time. When I arrived home, he wasn’t there. I asked our kids where he had gone, and they said he went to lunch with his friend, so I called him, and he had obviously had some drinks . He told me to come party with him...I reminded him that we had a birthday party to be at in a couple hours and one of us had to drive. I admit, I was irritated. About an hour later he comes home with his friend, visibly shitfaced, stumbling, and I realize he drove home. So I lose my cool...berate him for drinking and driving and setting a poor example for our kids. He gets upset about a fallen brother, and I basically tell him that throwing his life away is no way to honor his sacrifice. That was not the response he was looking for. I left the room and went outside to get some space and to figure out how to deal with this man. He snaps and loudly says “I’m gonna kill her”, and comes outside and pulls his gun out of his waistband (he has a conceal carry). He never pointed it at me. He has never threatened me before. My daughters see all of this. They call 911 immediately. The police were there in less than 5 minutes. I made a snap decision and told the police that he hadn’t pulled his gun out. They removed his weapon from him just in case and took him elsewhere to sleep it off.

A couple days pass. He stays away. His birthday comes around and he comes home. He tells me he wants a divorce. He can’t stand the tension, He’s unhappy, etc. Shortly there after, his whole family comes over for dinner and we do the whole cake and presents thing, while I’m struggling to hold it together he acts like nothing in the world is wrong. We make it through the event and I ask him if he’ll go to marriage counseling with me. He agrees, but requires that the counselor have a military background.

So for the next 2 weeks I call every psychiatrist, psychologist, and therapist in town (we live in a small city which is very isolated and about 90min away from the next small city) and cannot find any counselor with the background he requires. I ask my co-worker if she knows anyone, and she asks if I’m ok...I open up a little to her. She asks if I’ve looked at his phone to see if I can glean anything I hadn’t. So later that night I just look at our phone bill. For the last month he had had lots of texts and Lengthy phone calls to a local number I didn’t recognize. I google that number, and I find out it belongs to a 24 year old girl. So...When he gets home from work that day, I ask him who she is. He says “just some girl.” which is all I needed to hear. He swears they were just talking, nothing happened, etc. Obviously, I’m incredibly hurt. He says I don’t show him compassion, we don’t have sex enough, we fight all the time. (The sex thing is true, but I disagree with the other two) Ask him to leave. He refuses. A couple days go by he says he wants us to do counseling. He’ll find a good one through the VA and We can do it through Skype. He sends an email to all of his partners basically telling them they have to start pulling their weight because he’s no longer doing X, Y, Z. He plans a weekend getaway for us, to reconnect. I’m open to giving anything as shot. We had an amazing time. I’m feeling hopeful, waiting on him to contact the VA. The next weekend we take a little family trip. Things are still going well. And the weekend after that he goes on a long planned trip to visit his BFF/battle buddy in West VA for a week. I think this trip is going to do him a world of good, but he comes, for lack of a better word.

He works the whole weekend trying to catch up from his week off. His mood doesn’t improve. I check the phone bill again at the end of the week, and now he’s calling divorce attorneys. I ask him what that’s about. He says he’s filing. I asked if it was about this girl, he said no. I ask when he planned on telling me. He says when I got served. This absolutely blew my mind. I could sort of understand if we had been having big dramatic fights or something, but we hadn’t. In this conversation he said he won’t be telling his parents or anyone. I asked if he had talked to his BFF that he had just visited. He said they’re no longer speaking!? Wouldn’t tell me why. I asked him to leave the house while I tried to wrap my head around this, as he has family near and I don’t. He refused, though would disappear at night. The second night, I just googled that girls name and found her address and drove by...sure enough, his car was in the driveway.

Since then he’s told me he attempted suicide twice late at night in May, but couldn’t go through with it. He tells me that i make him miserable but won’t tell me how or for how long...He looks at me like he hates my guts and every interaction is cold if not cruel. It’s like a different person took over his body. He’s upset with me that I’m not handling all of this the way he thinks i should. I am completely lost here...i feel like i must have been living in an alternate reality than he was or he’s going through some serious shit. i don’t know which, or if it really matters.

He finally filed this week. I’m working on finding a therapist for myself. I’ve found an attorney but haven’t retained them yet because initially, he struck me as bloodthirsty, but I guess at the end of the day, that’s what you want in your lawyer? I’ll do whatever I have to do when I get served.

I don’t know how to de-escalate this so that we can at least remain civil. The thought of him being my enemy kills me...he’s been my best friend for pretty much my entire adult life.

I don’t know if any of you have any insight or advice for me. I’m grasping at straws here. I don’t know whether to treat this as a likely ugly divorce or a mental health crisis or both.

Ultimately, at the end of the day, I’m terrified he may take his own life, and I’m terrified of doing anything in this divorce process to create a situation where that will be the outcome, but at the same time, I need to protect my interests as well.

Thanks for taking the time to read my novel.


When they get like this, it's impossible to do anything that's going to de-escalate them. Unfortunately we can't do anything to make our partners less symptomatic or less self destructive. Their mental health issues can only be fixed by them. That's what sucks about being a supporter. We have zero control. We can't make them take their meds. We can't make them seek treatment or comply with treatment programs. It doesn't seem fair when their mental health is destroying our lives too, but that's just the way it is. It's a hard situation.

All you can really do is take care of yourself and your children. Decide for yourself if YOU want to stay in this marriage. Set boundaries about behaviors that are and are not acceptable for you and the kids. His behavior is not OK.

First things first... The gun thing was way the f*ck out of line. That is now a personal security issue. It would not be unreasonable to insist that he not carry firearms on his person in the house around you or the kids. He pulled one, so he has lost your trust. He scared your children to death. Responsible gun owners do not handle their weapons when they're intoxicated or pull them to intimidate or threaten... and I am far from being "anti-gun". I shoot and own guns myself. If he can't respect that boundary, you could enforce it by leaving with the kids every time he walks in and doesn't take his gun off. What happens next time he comes home drunk and decides he needs to kill you? Do you want the kids to see him pull his weapon again? A responsible husband and father doesn't endanger his wife and kids by acting like a jackass with a gun.

Dont excuse any of his crap behavior because he has PTSD. PTSD has definite symptoms, but the bad behavior used to cope with the symptoms are CHOICES. PTSD doesn't make somebody cheat. They may feel self destructive or whatever because of the PTSD, but the PTSD doesn't possess their mind and body, make them sleepwalk over to the closest girl, then proceed to penetrate her. He has a choice. Same with the drinking. PTSD isn't causing him to drink, he is drinking as a bad coping mechanism. You don't have to tolerate this kind of stuff just because he isn't doing well.

Honestly, with the whole divorce thing, I'd believe it when he served me. He doesn't want to tell anybody? How does that work? Sounds like hollow threats and his mind running faster than his good sense. Have an attorney picked out, and retain them ASAP if served, but until then, treat it as a hollow threat.

Take care of your self. Take care of your kids. He's in a spiral of bad behavior, and there isn't much you can do for him now. I'm so sorry this is happening to you.


I need to protect my interests as well.
This. And I’d probably add that your kids interests as well.

Pulling the gun? With your kids around? Until he decides to get help? You really can’t risk living with that kind of threat. Domestic violence statistics really aren’t in your favour right now, and if not for yourself? Your kids deserve to live in safety, without fear for their life.

Ultimately, and tragically, there’s not much you can do for a person that refuses to get help. And that’s what’s needed here. He actually needs to decide that he’s ready to get help. And in the meantime? Looking after yourself is an absolute must.


The thought of him being my enemy kills me...
He's already the enemy. He pulled a gun on you. And not just on you. Your (his) kids had to call 911 for you. That's not a friend. It's not a lover. That is a rage filled man who threatened you. Try to keep that picture in your mind.

he acts like nothing in the world is wrong.
Well, of course not. He is f*cking a 24 year old. Things Can't work out badly for him. And clearly he doesn't give a shit how they work out for you and the kids. 24 years old. Isn't it fascinating that he all the sudden comes up with a list of how f*cked up you are while he is sleeping with that 24 year old? Don't believe a word of it. He's trying to pin it on you while he is acting like a piece of shit who is thinking of nobody except himself.

I’m terrified he may take his own life,
Best his then yours and your children's. I am not certain that you are really aligning with how freaking serious pulling a gun on your wife in front of your kids is.


Oh holy moly....

He threatened to murder the mother of his children! And did so in front of his children!

How are the kids doing? They are at risk for developing PTSD from that incident. I’m actually very concerned you were not the one to call 911. Your kids are beginning to step into a parent role, and right now, they need a parent who is looking out for their best interests and safety, and that sure the heck isn’t him.

It’s got to be you.

He has made his choices. You can’t change them and it isn’t in your power to de-escalate him.

I would expect him to escalate as the divorce heats up and he may face partial or greater loss of custody of the kids. At this point, I’d connect with the local safehouse / domestic violence shelter and focus on a safety plan. He’s already endangered everyone and is not making any choices to get his behavior under wraps. Throw in on-going self medicating....

Btw, it doesn’t matter if this is PTSD fueled. I agree with others that it is not an excuse for this sh*t. The testosterone hormones could be fueling this, but that is cause to get out of this and get safe.

The only lie you are living is to think you can talk him down out of this. You can’t. You can not out talk all that he is running from and all that he dumping into his body and all the excuses he has and all the excuses he will have.

He is willing to willfully endanger children and you, threaten murder, and not get help.

It doesn’t get much more serious than this. I am so sorry it’s come to this. Take care of you and those kids. If you have any concern for any sucidial or homicidal behaviors, call a crisis line and/or 911. Let the professionals help make decisions on what needs to happen to keep everyone safe and alive.


Wow! What a mess. So sorry your family is going through all of this.

However, it sounds all too familiar to me. This was my guy's life when he got out of the military. Total chaos. He ended up going off grid for almost five years. His relationships during that time crumbled. Too many bad choices to recover from. The VA wasn't much help back then. He needed more help then they could /would (?) give him.

As for his guns? (He has many) He gave them to his BIL for safe keeping when he thought the cows across the road were Haji. Everything was/is the enemy when he's symptomatic. (and over prescribed all kinds of meds)

Now, years later. ( After I found him with a noose) He finally made the decision to try. Anything. He was done letting his past ruin his future. He works sooo hard. Therapy. Meds. Exercise. Diet. Structure. Rest whenever he's able. He's working the program religiously..... Yet, some days are still complete cluster f*cks!

My thoughts are that you just have to let this play out while keeping yourself and your children safe. He's spiraling and I wouldn't get in the way. He needs professional help and quite possibly an inpatient stay.

He threatened your life. Scared your children enough to call 911 and you denied them their truth. Crushing for a child. If you let him stay? Please let the kids stay somewhere safe. Mental illness. Rage. And guns?? Extremely bad combo. You see it in the headlines everyday. I love my guy and trust him with my life. It's his life I worry about. I would never allow a gun in the house. Too easy to make a bad decision when he's in a bad place. (SI)

Call the VA. They can help YOU too.
Best of luck to all of you.


I’d go knock on the 24 year olds door and ask her if she knows he is a husband and a father.....cuz really, the “marrieds” as I like to call them, are really good at bullshitting when they are trying to get with us singles. Dollars to donuts she has been getting a mouthful of lies.

Mention how she’d never get to see him if he had full time custody!



EveHarrington, most of the time I agree with your advice. Except this time. This ^^^ could get someone seriously hurt (or even killed). I can't stress enough how dangerous this could be. It already is dangerous IMHO. Hoping everyone is safe tonight!


EveHarrington, most of the time I agree with your advice. Except this time. This ^^^ could get someone seriously hurt (or even killed). I can't stress enough how dangerous this could be. It already is dangerous IMHO. Hoping everyone is safe tonight!

Oh sorry.

Sometimes I forget that doing this kind of thing could get me hurt. I usually use the “can this get me arrested” litmus test lol.

I’ve done this type of thing before, and I’d probably do it again.

I should probably mention that I have little physical fear....I fear the psychological. (Trauma thing.) Hence why I have no problem doing things like this.


He snaps and loudly says “I’m gonna kill her”, and comes outside and pulls his gun out of his waistband (he has a conceal carry). He never pointed it at me. He has never threatened me before. My daughters see all of this. They call 911 immediately. The police were there in less than 5 minutes. I made a snap decision and told the police that he hadn’t pulled his gun out. They removed his weapon from him just in case and took him elsewhere to sleep it off.

So he pulled a gun in front of the kids and threatened to kill someone. Then you lied to the cops who obviously knew you were lying since they took his gun for safekeeping.

I'm sorry - I don't know how to politely respond to this. I did the 911 thing for a long time and so I'm probably projecting and if so I apologize. But.

You DAUGHTERS had to call 911 to say dad was waving a gun and threatening mom. You say he wasn't. Obviously they thought he was or they wouldn't have called 911.
Your children
On the phone with 911
Because dad is waving a gun
Threatening to kill someone

And your response is to feel sorry for him.
I can't wrap my mind around this and I don't even have kids.
How about this. Call the 911 center and ask to hear the call.
Listen to your kids telling the dispatcher about their dad trying to kill their mom
Then ask yourself -- did he even give a damn that he traumatized them? Did you?
And yes -- I'm making this about your kids and not the adults. Because the adults have a choice in how they live- kids don't.

You are not going to be able to deescalate this mess. You are part of the problem in his eyes.
He needs professional help and he's made it pretty clear he doesn't want it. If he wants a divorce then get a good lawyer, give him his divorce and send him away until he gets his shit together.


I am so sorry you're going through this. Mine left June 15 without an argument or word just disappeared and filed for divorce in another state. I cried and felt anxiety. This site helped me realize there is nothing i can do for him as much as i love him. I am the enemy to him and had to realize that even though it feels's not. Now I am not contesting the divorce and focusing on me which is the only thing I have control over. It's the only thing you can do now. I'm sorry and wish you and your children the best.
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