Relationship Just married a combat vet, could the marriage have been a trigger?

L Michelle

New Here
Hello. I joined this group a while ago and it’s been such a help as a supporter, but this is my first post, and a little long so you can get the background.

Background: I’m in a relationship with a combat vet...married a month ago, actually. He’s been in my life for 8 years. We sat side by side at work for many years which is how I came to know about his PTSD. For some reason I picked up on it and he chose to share it with me at the time. I was the only one who knew, and found myself trying do anything I could to keep him from getting triggered at work and make his day as comfortable as possible. I had a weird way of reading his moods and actions, even when he wasn’t aware.

When we first met, we were both married. Years later though, we both ended up divorced and close friends. He became very comfortable with me and trusted me with some of the details he’s been hiding for so long. I began reading every book, article and forum I could to understand him better and to understand how best to support him.

His divorce was definitely a triggering event for him and he spiraled down a path I hadn’t seen. It broke my heart to watch, but I did the best I could to take care of my self and still stick with him as I was his only support.

He eventually started therapy, and worked hard to make progress. (We ended up dating and grew even closer. He’s very self aware and open, so we are at this point, able to openly discuss just about anything when hes open to it. (We now do couples and separate therapy sessions).

We introduced our kids a year ago and all went well. This past winter we decided to buy a house, get married and move forward. But that’s when everything changed. We moved into an amazing house and the kids are happy. He tells me all the time how happy he is, how I’m his rock and how he doesn’t want to do life without me. But since we moved in, his whole attitude and demeanor has changed. He’s constantly on edge and his anger turns to rage quickly, he talks down to me and the kids, he avoids and leaves a lot to get away and get some down time, and has been nasty enough at times that I’m concerned about what his next reaction will be. To be clear, he’s never been physically abusive in any way. While I’ve seen all these behaviors before, this seems exaggerated and constant, which is why I’m so concerned. It’s the worst I’ve seen him.

I know he suffers from survivors guilt and talks a lot about moral injury. He blames himself for so much and doesn’t feel he deserves happiness. I’m wondering if this is part of the change in behavior?? His first wife blamed him for everything, told him how ridiculous his bwhavoir was and didn’t understand PTSD at all. This relationship is the total opposite, and our therapist thinks our connection is part of why he’s made so much progress. On top of that, he is seeing a big difference in our kids behaviors (he has two girls and so do I) and how he’s impacted his own kids and he’s really struggling with that too. He feels like he’s breaking them and has guilt about that too.

Anyone else experience this? Any suggestions on things I can do to help? Should I just give him space to adjust to the change? I’m obviously trying to be patient and understanding, but there are no good days right now and it’s heartbreaking because it should be a happy time in our lives and he does deserve it. He recognizes how he’s acting which makes him feel even worse, and it’s just a terrible cycle. He can’t pinpoint what it is, but It’s exhausting for both of us and really taking a toll on my mental stability at this point. It’s a big change for all of us, and trying to keep the kids from being impacted.
 

Freida

Sponsor
This past winter we decided to buy a house, get married and move forward. But
Those three things all at once? Holy crap
Ya....thats a lot to handle and being that happy over it? Yep..that would throw me into a huge slide because of this.......,

know he suffers from survivors guilt
We don't get the right to be happy
We don't deserve to live when others didn't
Anything "good" is a dishonor to those who didn't make it home
It should have been us that died

I know in my head those things aren't true but my soul still believes it sometimes. Its taken a lot of therapy to get past it even a little because survivor guilt is a monster of its own. My suggestion is going back to therapy because....well....its a slippery slope

He might look into emdr therapy...its been a godsend for me because it helps you change how you think of things, which is leading to me feeling less guilty for surviving.
 

grief

Sponsor
To be clear, he’s never been physically abusive in any way.
doesn't matter. for the record. do not leave the line at the behaviors you will tolerate from your husband in terms of that it is fine as long as he does not hit you. i do not go around hitting my husband but i promise you that the way i behave to him periodically is entirely unacceptable. and i know that when i am rational and logical and moral and sane. and he probably knows that as well. but it makes you more guilty and less able to be open about things because the worst thing you can possibly do is abuse your spouse. but unfortunately this is mental illness and being mentally ill sometimes we will behave poorly. that does not mean we are not responsible for our behavior.

so just to use an example in what you had mentioned just to try and explain it a little bit: survivor's guilt is exceptionally difficult. especially if you perceive that it may be your fault. you did not do enough or you should have done something more and ergo you deserve to be the dead one. and with an injury to morality, or to one's own moral framework (the things that you understand to be right and wrong are suddenly thrown into turmoil-that you might be forced to do things against your own moral code and what that means) it makes it more challenging to recognize that the world in terms of what people karmically deserve does not really work like that. people do not get what they deserve. they get what they get.

and we can get survivor's guilt even when there is no logical or moral reason to be feeling that and when there is and understanding the difference is not very easy. when people die if you have a normal ordinary sense of empathy it f*cks your brain up. we do not really understand what death is or how to cope with death and grief and loss and we have invented so much of our society and our reality and our morality around death because we frankly just don't understand it. our brains literally do not understand what it is like to stop being alive.

survivor's guilt can make you really strange. sometimes i have genuinely felt like i am no longer sane and that my mind is broken. and i have known people with survivor's guilt that have it that did not experience war or actually being a sole survivor in a physical sense. and having been in both scenarios myself the reality is that they pretty much feel the same. it's the same irrational bullshit. only some of it feels more real and some of it might be like, you can be like "well that's not sane." or anything like that. so that added stress would of course complicate matters but sometimes it just crops out of nothing.

sometimes it is just sickness or an accident or something. sometimes it is the breakdown between cause and effect. sometimes it is suicide. blaming yourself for not doing more in certain circumstances. i mean i have had the thought of oh i am responsible for my friend dying because i couldn't magically give him $75,000. like it isn't sane. especially since there is no evidence that he would be alive if i had done that. but because my brain cannot understand the fact that my friend is dead it just spins around like that.

and also because often times the type of trauma that we have experienced, is not something that our brains are easily able to understand. there are parallels of parts of human history that do not have proper words for many years. or these things are spoken of but instead of being spoken about clinically it is spoken of in terms of blaming the victim. you are a man and you got raped? you are now a woman and evil and you deserve to have your dick chopped off. and that was just like, commonly understood and in a lot of places actually is still commonly understood. we literally did not understand what was happening and could not explain what was happening correctly.

we had to start to invent language for some of this. before WWII we couldn't describe what genocide was, even though we knew what it was because it had happened many times. we just called it "war." but it is distinct.

so primarily with trauma your brain stops being fully able to rationalize what is going on. you may be able to look at what someone else is experienceing and say that their experiences are not their fault and be correct but because you cannot do that for yourself by definition your ability to fully rationalize is not there. so sometimes we behave irrationally. we behave stupidly. we say stupid things. we blow up. we get angry. we get triggered. and that can happen for no reason just because and this is true. just because of the most minor insignificant thing causes your brain to say "hey, pay attention to this!" and your brain is like no! i don't want to! f*ck off!

and that can be anything from needing to go back and get another coffee because they f*cked up your order and now it's the end of the f*cking world. or it can be intense. like getting married. buying a house. getting to know your spouse's children. and all these other major stressors that your husband is now experiencing even though they are positive events, they are still stressful to a person who has a stress management disorder.
 

Rosebud

MyPTSD Pro
I heard something about, forget the 'good' stress- all stress is stress. The PTSD Cup Explanation explains it well.

I think survivor's guilt is also reliving and can be pretty textbook for ptsd. It is hard when you can't go back and change or stop something, but you can't. Saying 'now live with it (constructively)' is very difficult. Apportion of blame or responsibility helps, just what percentage of x, y and z etc were in one's control. And moral injury involves often doing what you have to, but wouldn't if left to your own moral code. Like an EMT trying to keep a murderer alive at the scene of his family he brutally killed.

I think it all messes with one's head. He may not feel deserving of you, either. But the 1st year married (even if you lived together before), and the birth of children are the most challenging (for anyone).

Welcome to you. 😊
 
G

Giorno

doesn't matter. for the record. do not leave the line at the behaviors you will tolerate from your husband in terms of that it is fine as long as he does not hit you. i do not go around hitting my husband but i promise you that the way i behave to him periodically is entirely unacceptable. and i know that when i am rational and logical and moral and sane. and he probably knows that as well. but it makes you more guilty and less able to be open about things because the worst thing you can possibly do is abuse your spouse. but unfortunately this is mental illness and being mentally ill sometimes we will behave poorly. that does not mean we are not responsible for our behavior.

so just to use an example in what you had mentioned just to try and explain it a little bit: survivor's guilt is exceptionally difficult. especially if you perceive that it may be your fault. you did not do enough or you should have done something more and ergo you deserve to be the dead one. and with an injury to morality, or to one's own moral framework (the things that you understand to be right and wrong are suddenly thrown into turmoil-that you might be forced to do things against your own moral code and what that means) it makes it more challenging to recognize that the world in terms of what people karmically deserve does not really work like that. people do not get what they deserve. they get what they get.

and we can get survivor's guilt even when there is no logical or moral reason to be feeling that and when there is and understanding the difference is not very easy. when people die if you have a normal ordinary sense of empathy it f*cks your brain up. we do not really understand what death is or how to cope with death and grief and loss and we have invented so much of our society and our reality and our morality around death because we frankly just don't understand it. our brains literally do not understand what it is like to stop being alive.

survivor's guilt can make you really strange. sometimes i have genuinely felt like i am no longer sane and that my mind is broken. and i have known people with survivor's guilt that have it that did not experience war or actually being a sole survivor in a physical sense. and having been in both scenarios myself the reality is that they pretty much feel the same. it's the same irrational bullshit. only some of it feels more real and some of it might be like, you can be like "well that's not sane." or anything like that. so that added stress would of course complicate matters but sometimes it just crops out of nothing.

sometimes it is just sickness or an accident or something. sometimes it is the breakdown between cause and effect. sometimes it is suicide. blaming yourself for not doing more in certain circumstances. i mean i have had the thought of oh i am responsible for my friend dying because i couldn't magically give him $75,000. like it isn't sane. especially since there is no evidence that he would be alive if i had done that. but because my brain cannot understand the fact that my friend is dead it just spins around like that.

and also because often times the type of trauma that we have experienced, is not something that our brains are easily able to understand. there are parallels of parts of human history that do not have proper words for many years. or these things are spoken of but instead of being spoken about clinically it is spoken of in terms of blaming the victim. you are a man and you got raped? you are now a woman and evil and you deserve to have your dick chopped off. and that was just like, commonly understood and in a lot of places actually is still commonly understood. we literally did not understand what was happening and could not explain what was happening correctly.

we had to start to invent language for some of this. before WWII we couldn't describe what genocide was, even though we knew what it was because it had happened many times. we just called it "war." but it is distinct.

so primarily with trauma your brain stops being fully able to rationalize what is going on. you may be able to look at what someone else is experienceing and say that their experiences are not their fault and be correct but because you cannot do that for yourself by definition your ability to fully rationalize is not there. so sometimes we behave irrationally. we behave stupidly. we say stupid things. we blow up. we get angry. we get triggered. and that can happen for no reason just because and this is true. just because of the most minor insignificant thing causes your brain to say "hey, pay attention to this!" and your brain is like no! i don't want to! f*ck off!

and that can be anything from needing to go back and get another coffee because they f*cked up your order and now it's the end of the f*cking world. or it can be intense. like getting married. buying a house. getting to know your spouse's children. and all these other major stressors that your husband is now experiencing even though they are positive events, they are still stressful to a person who has a stress management disorder.
this is incredibly insightful
 
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