How I Saved My Marriage From PTSD

Can Marriage Survive PTSD

I remember a time when I wondered, “Can marriage survive PTSD?” Over the last four and a half years you all have watched the good and the bad with Justin and me. This community has been one that helps each other understand PTSD to be able to approach handling PTSD with compassion and empathy. Justin has shared some things that he has learned over the years lately. Now I want to share what I did that helped to not only save our marriage, but also helped me become a better person.

Before we got help from the VA and Vet Centers, my veteran use to blame me for everything. I was his problem in his mind. (It’s very common actually, more the norm than not we have seen over the years.)

I came to a point I finally realized I had 3 choices: Leave the situation, stay in the situation without complaint, or change the situation. I didn’t want to leave, I loved Justin too much. I didn’t want to stay without complaint because I hated the way he treated me, talked to me, and blamed me for everything. That left one option. Change it. But I couldn’t change him no matter how hard I tried. Couldn’t make him be there for me, couldn’t make him want to get help; tears, begging him to think of the family, threats to leave.

Nothing could change him or make him do what I wanted or what was best for our family. The only thing I could change was me.

So once in therapy I learned I had to change my perception and the way I talked to him, and I stopped fighting with him. I would pick my battles and started to always try to see Justin’s perspective also. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t had to draw a line and go, “Enough!  This won’t happen.” The hardest part has been sometimes getting the courage to do it, or staying firm and not giving in. When boundaries were crossed, I told him and enforced whatever I said would happen. But in all my actions, my love for my husband was my reason, not my anger or hate at the moment. Given what all we have been through, I could have let my emotions take control, but I didn’t. I let my emotions out with the therapist, so I had another person not living in the situation help me logically sort through things and listen if needed just to have an emotional dump!

I, as a woman, had feelings too, and my feelings and emotions were important. But many times I had to find someone other than my husband to just get everything out. And once it was out, I went straight back to work on Justin and me, or what we call TEAM WE. Once I started doing these things, then slowly he started changing and started working with me. In the end, I didn’t make it happen. I didn’t force him, issue threats or ultimatums, or even cry and beg. I didn’t do anything to change anything about him at all. I only worked on the one area that was in my complete control. I only changed me.

Shawn J. Gourley




  1. Great story, thanks for sharing. I know it gets hard seeing someone you love going through this. It also can get you worried about your love one. Thanks for also being a support for all the families and our veterans. Sincerely from one veteran military wife to another.

  2. I too am living with a chronic PTSD sufferer. I love him enough to try anything and thats what I did. I changed me. I became stronger !! This terrible illness had taken its toll on me and I decided one day I was not allowing it to control me like it was controlling him. I was going to be the strong one. I was going to be the one that had to help him as the specialist offer very little. Insurance companies make it worse. It was upto me. We are now slowly coming together but my God, its a very long road with many hurdles and we know more to come. Thank you for sharing as this hidious injury effects so many more than just the main sufferer.

  3. Yes I am very pleased to see there is a place for people with PTSD to get help. I had PTSD from other causes but really the issues in marriage become the same. I applaude the people and especially my husband who loved me enough to put me first despite his pain and in times loved me enough to put himself first too. It is a balancing act of love to make marriage work without PTSD so cheers to all of you ! Keep moving ahead and get support always. Jewel

  4. I put my wife through a living hell at times… sometimes I say things out of turn to our kids too but the bottom line always remains.. I love them all and don’t want to lose them. My wife has ALWAYS been the one to set us up with the counselors and psychologists but I never put a great effort into this. It was always her and I went away feeling angry, upset, irritated about what she said and also sad that I couldn’t quite see things from her perspective. Now it seems we are engaged in a great civil war testing whether her mind or my own can long endure. She was the one that found this site and I want to read it further but unfortunately I am currently at work. Guess I’ll follow up when I get home late tonight.

  5. My husband went into a VA facility a couple months ago for a 6 week program that ended up being 9 wks. He communicated less and less as time went on. We were good so I thought when he went in. He has been home two days now and says he is full of hate towards me. Blames me for every single thing that has ever gone wrong. He wants out of the marriage now and says he cant live with not being able to stand me and HATES me. He says the VA program taught him that he was just surpressing his anger and he was to weak to stand up to me before. I am at a total loss. What on earth do they do to them? Things that were never an issue are now an issue. Major issues.

  6. Thanks for sharing this story. This is what I needed to read today.

  7. Thanks for your story. I’m right in the middle of the threats to leave and he’s constantly blaming me for everything. Im trying my best to not let it get to me and we shohld be starting counseling together soon to get some guidance, but it’s so tough. I’m not giving up on him or us.

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