Triggers and healthy conflict?

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deeplyloved

MyPTSD Pro
My husband is a passionate debater and he often finds arguments cathartic. As far as I know, he does not have PTSD...though he did grow up in a dysfunctional home with domestic violence and alcoholism. We’ve been married for almost 20 years. He once threw a box (in the opposite direction of me) in anger and I told him it scared me. That was at the beginning of our relationship and he’s never done it again. But he is loud and passionate and it often triggers emotional flooding and shutdown in me. He feels like he has to walk on eggshells when he feels upset or we need to talk about something difficult.

We had another argument where I told him I was getting overloaded and couldn’t think, but he thought I was trying to avoid the topic and then, after my brain shut down, he thought I was ignoring him. We regrouped and talked about the crappy effects of PTSD and I reassured him that I don’t intentionally want to ignore him. It’s a physiological response and it’s not a logical process. He said he was grateful for that information but he’s not sure what to do differently.

We are married, with four children...we have to have discussions in a timely manner and they are not always fun. I do my best to participate fully, but the cost is quite high.
It takes me hours to recover from being triggered. It’s exhausting. That’s not his fault. We have to function as a family.

What have you found works well? I’d be grateful for any advice. I do plan to ask my therapist for some ideas. I think she will say I have to take extreme care of myself and reduce my overall stress load...but that’s something that also feels hard right now. I need to work on that too.
 
I'm a supporter and all I can say is that we truly don't understand or get it. Our brains are designed to just get over it after a heated discussion . . . Someone with PTSD can't. We don't get that because it makes absolutely no sense to us.

I used to get so upset because I felt I was my husbands trigger but I realized it wasn't me but my response (eye rolling, disappointment or whatever)

First and foremost you need to really look at the situation and find the what truly is the trigger. Is it the tone of his voice, is it his facial expressions, his words . . . ? When you begin to pin point it for him and are able to express that, then it's really helpful for us as supporters.

What's not helpful is when you say "You trigger me". That's when we get lost and confused. What actually triggers You? We need specifics and it may take you some time to know the answer to that question.

Also I believe knowledge is power and if you are in therapy, talk to your t and ask if you can have a joint session with your partner. Not to talk about your trauma but to help educate him on how PTSD works. He may get something out of it which will possibly help him seek therapy on how to deal as well.

Relationships are hard and when you add PTSD to the mix it's down right confusing but it's totally doable and so worth the sacrifice! Prayers headed your way.
 

deeplyloved

MyPTSD Pro
Thank you. I appreciate your response! Thank you for the reminders, especially. I have not and would not say that my husband is the source of what triggers me...but I should reassure him definitively. We are both wired as loud and animated people. I suspect there is something there. I’m so frustrated because I’ve had 20 years of safety with this man! Yes, anger was dangerous when I was young...but that hasn’t been the case for decades now. It’s not fair to my husband.
 
PTSD isn't fair!!! It's not your fault. You didn't ask for this so please don't blame yourself. I know your husband doesn't trigger you. He's not the trigger but something he says or does triggers a response in your brain. I'm sure he doesn't mean to, and doesn't understand when he does but try to pin point it. Like I said it Wil take time but when you realize what it is, talk openly with your T about it and/or partner.

That's when you can compromise and set boundries. It helps us supporters to have clear and distinct boundries. My mom once told be that a successful relationship is one compromise after another. We are all different, yet we are all equal.
 

deeplyloved

MyPTSD Pro
Thank you for your kind words! Yes about compromise. Loving relationships are hard work but so worth it. I don’t know what I ever did to deserve my husband. He is an amazing human being. I don’t want him to feel like he has to walk on eggshells or change who he is. Hoping my therapist has some good ideas.
 

Justmehere

Sponsor
Check out NVC - it stands for non-violent communication techniques. It isn’t really so much about violence but might be a set of simple tools that might help navigate this. There’s lots of free info on google about it.
 
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