My husband has PTSD from childhood abuse and military deployments in Iraq. He has rarely told me anything about his memories and flashbacks, but I know that they are real. I honestly do not think he has ever really dealt with any of them or at least enough for him to feel like he has been adequately treated. I never realized that the ways I dealt with my spouse probably brought back issues with his PTSD, and I feel that I made things much worse than they ever had to be. He has now left me for the third time in our marriage of just over 2 years. The first 2 times he left, it was the month of our wedding anniversary, but now that I have gained more knowledge about PTSD, I have realized that it is also the month of his medical military discharge date. I look back on the way I handled situations and realize that I am mostly to blame for his reactions. He has been gone for 5 weeks today. He has been staying with his parents, and ironically, his dad is the one who abused him the most as a child. We have talked a few times and have been to marriage counseling once through our local VA, but he is still avoiding me and being in our house. He has said he needs time to clear his head and at first, I kept trying to get him to talk to me, which I think pushed him even further away. Now that I understand PTSD better, I am trying to give him space and time to think clearly. Our marriage counselor told me that he is not thinking clearly and he needs to be able to do so. He has told me that he is 90% checked out of our relationship, but has also told me that he still loves me, but it seems it is hard for him to admit that. I called him yesterday to tell him that I have been reading up on PTSD and I now understand everything about how he deals with things. It's the first time he actually answered his phone when I called since he's been gone (he's usually let voicemail pick up), but he told me that he's glad but at this point it doesn't make him feel any better or worse about our situation and he feels that it is a day late, and a dollar short. Our counselor told me that is a normal response in someone with PTSD and I can't take that as his final answer right now because he's still trying to process everything. We've had our problems, but I believe with all my heart that things would be so much better now that I understand him better. I guess my question is, will he ever realize that and come back home? We have another marriage counseling appointment in 1 1/2 weeks, and I am trying my best to not talk to him unless he initiates the contact. I don't want him to think I don't care - I just want him to see that I am giving him time to clear his head because I see now that that is what he needs. Am I wrong to think that he will get his head cleared and still want to be with me? I am trying to be hopeful, but at the same time I don't want to have false hope. He's come back home the other times he's left, but have I pushed him too far this time and ruined our relationship? What can I do to help him realize that things will be better if he comes home because I understand now? I am really struggling, and any advice anyone has would be greatly appreciated.
i think that the best you can do is to support him he needs you i attend group therapy and i realize there are others like me back then i felt all alone before there was support groups no one could relate to me when i got back to the states all i wanted to do was use alcohol & drugs i suffered before i realized i needed help if you feel like a major change has come on him like fear PTSD is mainly about intense fear and i believe that a man must face his own demons :)
Thanks for your answer. I am trying to support him, but right now, all he is doing is avoiding me. I have told him I love him and want to be here for him, but the few times that we've talked since he's been gone, once he admits that he loves me, it seems those are the times I don't hear from him for a few days. I don't know if he's scared that he admitted his feelings or what. The last time he told me that he loved me (which was after our first marriage counseling session 3 days ago), he said he was afraid he'd just given me false hope because he didn't know if we could work out or not. I think that I hurt him because I never really understood the effects of PTSD until I read a booklet on it that our counselor gave me the other day. After I read it, I called him and told him that I understood everything now. I can't believe I was so ignorant. I look back on certain situations and all his reactions make sense now, and I just bust into tears thinking about the way I reacted to it, and how I would react now that my eyes have been opened. How can I show him I support him when he barely talks to me? I don't want to be up in his face because that seems to be when he is forced to face things he doesn't want to - mainly his feelings for me, I think. So do I give him space for a few more days or what? He has mail at our house that he needs, but I'm afraid to even let him know about it because I'm afraid he will think I"m just using it as an excuse to talk to him or get him to come home to get it. Do veterans with PTSD usually come back to the ones they love once they've had time to clear their head as he calls it or face his demons as you said? I just think things would be so much better now, but I'm not sure he'll ever give it a chance. He's told me a couple of times that he's 90% checked out of our relationship. Is that an accurate statement from him when he also says he's not thinking clearly? I just want him home. I hate being in our house without him. I just sit around and wish he was here with me. The last time he was at our house was for an hour or so the other day when he dropped me off after our marriage counseling session. We even joked like we used to about being 80 years old together and on our front porch swing. But once we started talking about that and other things with us in the future is when he said he had to go and was noticeably upset. Why was that? Because he wants that too but can't deal with all his feelings right now or because he didn't really mean to say it? I don't know.....I'm just struggling and I guess looking for any kind of hope there might be. Any thoughts?
I just thought of something else...you said PTSD is about extreme fear - could his fear be from being hurt by me? He's told me that he doesn't want to be hurt anymore. And I never intentionally hurt him, but I guess by me not having enough knowledge about PTSD, I did hurt him because I didn't know how to be there for him like I should have been. I wasn't intentionally mean or anything, I just didn't know how to react to him, and so I guess the way I did react to him, made things worse. Oh my....I feel like I just got hit upside the head with a ton of bricks again. I think I just figured him out even more. This has to be what he is struggling with right now because there has not been any major changes in his life. Duh...now what do I do to show him I won't hurt him? I've told him that, but how do I show him. I feel terrible. All I want to do is talk to him, but it seems when I try to do that, it pushes him further away. Should I give him time to think until our next marriage counseling session on the 30th and then tell him all this? I don't want him to think that not hearing from me is because I don't care, but at the same time, I don't want to push him...
So I need to give him time to sort through his feelings then? Is it normal for people with PTSD to come back to their spouse after they leave or not? All I want to do is be around him and show him I support him, but he won't let me. When you say he is going to be like this for quite some time, how long is normal? (if there is a "normal"). Our counselor said maybe 6 months. I want to give him the time he needs, but I don't know if I can be strong for that long. Every minute is a struggle at times...especially the weekends when I'm not working. I don't want to do anything, so I end up just sitting around, which I know is not good, but I can't motivate myself to do anything else.
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