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Relationship My wife doesn’t know she’s not well and won’t seek help.



I’ve been with my lovely wife for 18 years and I will do anything to make this work. I’m reasonably positive now that she’s suffering some kind of PTSD, almost certainly sexual in nature.

She’s from another country and doesn’t speak English (we communicate just fine in her language) so for a very long time I attributed everything that was different about her to cultural differences or just her personality.

She has never had any friends as long as I have known her. For 18 years she stayed at home all day and only left the house to go shopping. I have never put any demands on her whatsoever, she does what she wants. She never had a job.

We have two children.

She has always been hot tempered and I don’t dislike that. But she won’t tell anyone when she’s upset about something (we’re talking minor things here) and I can observe that she’s getting agitated. Finally eventually she will break down sobbing and let everything out, after which she is all right again. This cycle has repeated hundreds of times and I’ve learned that the only thing I can do is wait it out. Twice after we argued she ran away from home (to a different city, by herself) for weeks at a time and wouldn’t return until I admitted fault for everything and literally begged her.

It was far from perfect but the situation was stable. Or so I thought.

During covid our income suffered a big hit and I had to cut back on everything, including her weekly allowance. I had to move some money belonging to my business (money that belonged to customers, not to me) from one bank to another and left it sitting in my personal account for a while.

Then when it came time to move it again a huge chunk of it was missing. Tens of thousands if dollars. I panicked thinking I was hacked and I reported it to the police.

Soon I figured out that my wife taken my phone while I was asleep, transferred the money to herself, and deleted the transactions.

She never returned any of it or even admitted she was wrong. She was entitled to it because I didn’t give her enough. (Local law says she’s right, FWIW. Any money in my account she can take as much as she wants.)

But the money isn’t the issue here. I don’t care about the money.

This was 8 months ago.

This time instead of running away she went out and got herself a job. Her first real job as long as I’ve known her.

Now she feels independent and she knows people outside the house and I’m really happy for her about that, sincerely. But now that she doesn’t need me for money anymore she doesn’t want to interact with me at all. She blames ME for preventing her from going outside or getting a job or having friends. For forcing her to stay home.

This is not only untrue it’s the opposite of true.

She lives in the storeroom now and sleeps on a tiny cot. She quietly leaves the house in the morning and quietly slinks back into the storeroom at night. I barely see her. The way she avoids me now anyone would think that I beat her regularly.

This finally got me thinking that maybe it’s not just personality and I stated researching and putting the pieces together. I read the description of PTSD and everything fell into place. Hypervigilance, distorted perceptions, withdrawing from friends and family, panic attacks…. Click click click click click.

So apparently she has this condition that I never suspected, and I may have been unwittingly triggering it for almost two decades. Now she sees me as the cause of her trauma, which I absolutely am not.

From the ages of 18 to 27 her life is a black hole. I have no idea where she was or what she was doing during that time, and I’m thinking whatever happened, that was when it happened.

I sought out a therapist and suggested that we go talk about it. I was as empathetic and supportive as I think a person could be. I explained the condition and that I thought she’d been suffering from it for many many years. She viewed this as an attack and threw a fit. I promised I’d not bring it up again.

And now I don’t know what to do. Doing nothing apparently didn’t work, and doing something only made it worse.

I’m not going to give up on her though. And I’m willing to try literally anything.
It all sounds very difficult.

I would urge caution about diagnosing her. Because you could be very wrong. She could have mental health problems, but it could be something very different to PTSD.

Does she want to be in a relationship with you? If not: it might be facing the end of this relationship and finding a way to move on.
Whether she's unwell or not, if she has checked out of the relationship then she has checked out. All you can do is work on accepting that. As hard, as upsetting and as painful as that is.