When couples discover that PTSD is interfering in their relationship, risk suddenly enters into the equation. The survivor risks sharing the painful recovery process and the partner risks being involved. Want one sure-fire way to minimize those risks? Change the focus of your nurturing and support.
In the beginning, most spouses make the mistake of trying to steer their loved one away from the terrible reality of what happened (and is still happening). Stop doing that. It’s not helping. Instead, start nurturing and supporting your loved one with a heart of empathy and acceptance, from a place of listening and allowing their feelings – a sacred place. You are currently the stronger half of your partnership and have what it takes to reach this place where your relationship can truly blossom.
Healing from PTSD can be a mutual journey where you both learn a tremendous amount about yourselves as individuals and as a couple. There will be a place in your partner’s healing journey where you will find a way over or around some of the biggest obstacles in your relationship. If neither of you chooses to turn around and walk away (literally or mentally/emotionally), your commitment to each other will take on new depth and meaning.
I’m not going to sugar coat your loved one’s healing process. It can be gut wrenching to watch. There will be times when you never know who you’re going to come home to. One day your spouse is fine, cooking, playing with the kids. The next day, you might find him/her curled up in the closet. One thing is for sure, you’ll know your partner has no control over their flashbacks, because this isn’t the person you know and love. No one would ever choose to be in this much pain.
Your partner will struggle with the PTSD healing journey. No doubt about it. However, it is their struggle. It is your job to track the wonderful successes along the way. Each time your loved one overcomes a trigger, be there to help him/her reason through it. This is just one example of those small victories that will keep you both going and strengthen your connection.
The skills you’ll build to help the survivor on their journey are the same skills necessary to thrive in any growing, satisfying relationship. Many spouses secretly hold an idea that if it gets just too hard, too crazy, too painful, they can always walk away, because who could blame them? Don’t think that by walking out on this relationship when it gets hard, you’ll get away from facing your own need for personal growth. The mistake you’ll really be making is jeopardizing what might possibly be your loved one’s last chance at being free from PTSD forever, or worse, drive them over the edge.
Healing from PTSD, especially if it involves sexual healing, will be one of the greatest challenges you will face as a couple. The best part? You will enjoy a lifetime of mutual understanding and deep trust long after the healing is done. But you’ll have to employ these things:
- Open communication
- Respect for each other’s individuality
- Commitment to forming a Healing Team
Did you know that you can personally reap some amazing benefits and positive side effects by choosing to help your partner heal? Here are just a few:
- Improved self-esteem
- Richness and depth of your relationship
- Effective, workable partnership
- Mutual change for the better
- A safe place to share yourself
- Increased honesty and communication
- Creative exploration of intimacy
Throughout your loved one’s healing journey, there will be valleys of despair and mountain top experiences of victory. Your support gives your loved one the permission to boldly explore new and sometimes frightening territory. Being a loving, compassionate partner just might be the first step in helping the survivor in your life get on the path toward healing.
It is in moments of unconditional acceptance that a survivor will choose to see their spouse as an ally. Can you find the courage and compassion to see your loved one as a victim of a crime, a war, or a terrible tragedy, and suffering horribly from aftereffects they have no control over? Are you committed to walking through PTSD healing with the survivor in your life?
Join your loved one on the journey! Subscribe, so you won’t miss out on upcoming articles about how to be a positive member of your loved one’s Healing Team (handy button at the top/side of this page). It’s free! So, let the adventure begin! Also, feel free to ask questions, let me know what you think about this new series, PTSD Support for Spouses, or just see what I’m up to! Here’s how to connect: