Managing Traumatic Stress and Combat PTSD Through The R-E-C-O-V-E-R Approach*
PTSD CAUSES DAMAGE TO PREVIOUSLY GOOD RELATIONSHIPS
Great Marriages "Gone South": (Note to readers: As a Texan, who is therefore a Southwesterner, I DENY that all disasters occur below the Mason-Dixon line ! ) Okay, now that that's been said, let's move on through this topic of PTSD and relationships, shall we? We've talked about some of the problems that occur as a result of relationships that turn into "bad hookups". But the opposite is also true. There are many, many military marriages that are mature and devoted. These relationships, too, can be harmed by traumatic stress which may cause changes in the behavior of a party to the relationship, which were not an issue before. We hear it all the time. "I sent John off to the war..." says April, his adoring wife. "Someone masquerading as John returned home."
When a trauma-affected partner treats his family as though they are in his chain of command, bad things happen to the relationship.
When a trauma-affected partner withdraws and will no longer associate with the other partner, or no longer has a desire for intimacy, bad things happen to the relationship.
When a trauma-affected partner becomes chronically irritated, angry, violent or abusive, bad things happen to the relationship.
When a trauma affected partner's night terrors, flashbacks or "walking point" produces sleep deprivation in the other partner, or subjects that partner do danger, bad things happen to the relationship.
Sometimes, the party with PTSD may wound his spouse, partner or family by acting as though no relationship exists, or in reckless disregard of the rules that govern good relationships. This may occur in situations in which a previously loyal and sexually faithful spouse begins to have affairs (a behavior that is often attributable to PTSD effects). Or he/she may engage in behaviors that are overtly risky, and which would have disastrous consequences for the spouse. Examples are cashing out the 401K to buy a motorcycle while you are in theater, gambling away the household money and making your family insecure, or engaging in extreme sports in ways that are potentially lethal. There are many more ways in which people with PTSD literally "gamble" with their relationships.
YOU HAVEN'T FAILED IN COUNSELING, UNTIL YOU KNOW WHAT COUNSELING YOU'VE TRIED: There are many people whose marriages or relationships are on the rocks who have been packed off to marriage counselors for "fixing." Unfortunately, these relationships are rarely "fixable" in this way, because marriage counseling is not at all the same thing as trauma counseling. As a result, many couples feel that they have "failed", when this may not be the case at all. They may simply not have received the kind of therapy designed to address the traumas that one or both parties to the marriage are still toting around with them.. At the root of countless divorces are old traumas, whose effects simply weren't recognized for what they were.
PTSD as the cause for failed relationships...Who knew?
So, now you know that these kinds of relational patterns, especially when repeated, are a sign that PTSD may be affecting your life and the lives of those you love. I
For much more information about the effect of trauma on marriage and family relationships, see Chapter One of "I Always Sit With My Back To The Wall," available othrough this site.
And for more information about the effect of trauma on other essential human relationships, click on the "Recognizing PTSD" brick.
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