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




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