I Ruined My Marriage, and You Will

Yes, I fully admit I ruined my marriage. And mark my words: I promise every one of you reading this: You will ruin yours, too! This website will give reasons.

I know, I know, it’s one bold statement, but first read on so I can explain. See if by the end you don’t agree.

Justin and I had known each other for about 17 years when we decided to get married. By the time we got married we were best friends, head over heels in love with each other, and on Cloud 9. We knew each other inside and out. Our friends and family all commented on how happy we were together.

Justin was still in the Navy when we said our I Do’s with a year and a half to serve before he could come home. I’m a realist, so I knew when he came home it would take some time to get used to living together and being married. What I didn’t expect was my husband to return home injured with post-traumatic stress disorder, which is a separate story in and of itself. But still, I was confident we could overcome anything so long as we were together. And I was right; but yet so wrong, I even took Justin along with me for couples counseling orange county to save our marriage. Sometimes it becomes especially difficult to understand each other in relationship, but you can try to save your marriage with a weekend intensive. To learn more check out African American marriage retreats 2019.


The first five years of our marriage were absolute hell, or as close as you could get without it being out and out abuse. We argued all the time about everything: money, family, life, our values. Nothing was off-limits, and he wanted to control it all due to his PTSD. I didn’t feel like we were in sync for anything, not even how marriage is supposed to be. Desperate to save our relationship, I tried every tactic I could possibly think of keep our family from being ruined, or worse, being totally destroyed. I thought, “If I love him enough, he will love me back.” So I walked on eggshells trying to avoid any and all conflict. I tried setting boundaries and made rules. I even started living my life for my husband and his happiness.

Can you guess what happened? EPIC FAIL on all counts even though I had run the gamut for solutions. No matter what I said, I couldn’t get through to him. I couldn’t make him see what I was saying or my side of anything. Even if I pointed out, “You did,” or “You said,” he would get defensive and would counter it with how I was wrong, how I was trying to control or manipulate him, or how I always blamed him for everything. No matter how factual of a statement I was making, “You” was ruining my marriage. I thought about it and came to the conclusion: If we as a couple learn better communication skills, then the problem will be fixed, and then we will have a healthy relationship.

Not saying you, you, you, you, you, which insinuated blame, left a major hole in my communications. That led me to dig deep and look for another approach when speaking. I-statements are supposed to be an alternative to the seemingly more destructive you-statements that attack, blame, or criticize someone else. “This is perfect,” I thought. “Eureka baby, yeah!!!”

So, can you guess what happened this time? EPIC FAIL again! Even when using I-statements, Justin still felt blamed and got defensive. What? Are you kidding me? The I-statement had the exact same effect as you-statement did. I was at a loss; I didn’t know what to do. I had no voice, I had no say, and I felt like I was a doormat, which was completely unacceptable. And yet, these were the only tools I knew how to use. I had researched, and they were all I had found. I felt like our relationship had been invaded by two other people: *I* and *You*.

I had ruined my marriage just like You!

As months went by we finally got into counseling; it was not fixing us like I had longed for. Our marriage was in pieces, and I will never forget the day the counselor looked at me and said, “So, where do you want things to go from here? Do you want a divorce, do you just want to separate for a while, or do you want to try to fix this?” I wondered, “Why is this decision being left up to me? We both came into this marriage together, so why aren’t we deciding the future of our marriage together? And yet I deserve to be happy, right?” Maybe having a dispute resolution Perth where you can go through everything that is going on and maybe fix it. Looking at myself, I was a shell of the person I used to be, my heart was hardened, and resentment towards my husband was seeping in my soul, as well as keeping score of what I was doing vs. what he wasn’t doing.

And there was the answer: We came into this marriage together; we were a team; we could get through anything together. Our problem was: We were no longer finding solutions together, weren’t trying to understand each other, never stopped to care why the other person couldn’t or wouldn’t do things we wanted, and had stopped functioning as a we. *I* was a cancer that ate away at our marriage completely, eroding every piece of it. It ruined our marriage just as a gambling addiction or drug addiction ruins a person. But that is why there are rehab treatment so the person can get better.

It wasn’t just the communication like I had originally thought. *I* was a complete drift in mindset from *We* to *I* and *You*, creating an invisible barrier that kept us from ever overcoming it. I realized I had to make a choice if I truly wanted a healthy marriage. I had to depart from the *I* and *You* mindset, wiping the slate and starting from scratch. What was best for *We*–our marriage and our family–was the only possible way our marriage had any chance.
I tried switching to a *We* mindset, and life improved dramatically. Even if we disagreed on something,

Justin could now see that I was including him in my thoughts about us. At first, I had to work really hard at using we-statements to get the point across that my thinking had changed. But eventually, when he knew I was viewing us as a team, he knew he was still included, even if I used basic I and you pronouns. Life got better. The arguments got fewer and further between. PTSD is still a problem in our house, but because we are a *We* now, *We* can cope with it better together.

Successful couples don’t run a marriage with an *I* and *You* mindset. Marriage is about joining two separate people together as one family, and that’s the way it has to be thought of if it is to work. There has to be a shared mindset. It’s not so much the language of pronouns–I, you, and we–as it is how you think about everything you want for the marriage. If you are only thinking about what will make you happy, then you will completely miss what will make *We* happy. The best way to do this is to find the best parts of yourself and offer them up as a gift to, not the other person alone, but to the relationship so that *We* will be the happy ones in the end.

I want you to know, all of you, that *I* ruined my marriage and so will *You*….Shawn J. Gourley Co-Founder Military with PTSD

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  1. I don’t feel that way. I have the Ptsd in our household it not easy for my husband but he even admits after 2 yes in Vietnam he probably has it room. We work at it everyday and gave no intention of leaving each other after 36 years

  2. I agree. My husband is 70% disabled with PTSD/ depression/ anxiety……We are Team Hull. Does’t matter what the situation is, we are a team and face it as a team, even when we have disagreements, which doesn’t happen often, we always find a way to compromise.

  3. This makes sense. But what do you do when it’s the spouse with PTSD that needs to learn this; that needs to realize it’s not all about him and his happiness; that he needs to, no HAS to learn to communicate and that you’re a TEAM?

  4. Must be so so hard living with PTSD and none mentioned even in the comments about dealing with kids.. So i would say you dont have it so hard. 17 and 23 years then something like shit nightmares get in between couples who has been together so long get in the way .. Grow up , admit that they’re actually sick of each other and dont blame it on the disease that most soldiers contract when they get home because REALLY !! As soon as they get home they’re not making bank NO MORE!!! All they want to do is unwind and forget about all the shit things they had to do from where ever shit hole they came back from AND JUST TAKE A ” FUCKING BREAK” … Thats all !! But most people wont put up with that shit. So the best thing to do is admit and move THE FUCK ON and leave these people to DEAL with their own demons !!! TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN !! stop blaming !!! DEAL WITH YOURS !!!!!!!! EITHER HELP OR GET OUT !!!!!

  5. I suffer from PTSD the same way your husband did…its almost like there is a different person inside me that 8 have no control of their actions sometimes and have said terrible things. But in my case it’s not my husband that has no say or feels like a doormat but instead I am…and my relationship has lost the “we”…I have been on every medicine appropriate for this disease with no success and my dr is the Director of the country mental health department. You cannot cure a lifetime of trauma with a pill and you can’t reason with the unreasonable

  6. Am I the only wife dealing with a veteran husband who has PTSD who not only deals with the lack of willingness to communicate, socialize, outbursts, anger, sleeplessness but also and honestly this has been the hardest symptom to handle but 100% lack of desire for any kind of intimacy? Even simple things like a hug or a kiss.

  7. Shawn J. Gourley, I would very much like for you to talk to my wife!

  8. I don’t know if anyone still reads this article, however it was an eye opener for myself. The year my husband and I met (2010), we had both just came out of 3-4 years of horrible relationships with one person. He just had come home from a 13 month tour in Iraq, truthfully, and I apologize for this “I statement” but I had no clue exactly what I was getting into, the first two years were the best years of my life, coming from an abusive relationship I was very passive, never questioned him let him do whatever whenever, did everything he asked of me, accepted his son as my own and he accepted my daughter as his own, he’s the only father figure she has. Our children are 6 months apart and get along great. Sometimes I think they are the only reason I’ve stayed, my heart gets extremely heavy thinking about life without him in it.
    We are rounding 9 years together and the PTSD symptoms are getting worse, my husband has had two affairs, that I know of, I’ve been told by counselors that some vets suffering w PTSD, go through “PTSD FLARES”, the cheating lets him escape reality. I’m sorry but I believe there is never an excuse for cheating. Another “I statement” however unavoidable, he proposed in 2012, on Christmas, he was very traditional and even asked my father for my hand in marriage, my husband always said he couldn’t stand a liar cheat or thief, but he’s values have changed now he just says theif, sometimes liar. We married in 2014 and the first two years were good not great, we had little spats, nothing serious but then I found he would just out of the blue verbally start attacking me for no reason. He would get angry if I worked late, and pick fights with me at work, eventually my boss sexually harassed me and I reported it, 1 month later to the day after 14 years with the company, I was let go. He was very understanding at first. He had a good job with a veteran started company which went corporate and he climbed the corporate ladder, something he never wanted but he grew and excelled in his position. I’m elated for him because in that aspect he’s come a long way, but at the same time I can’t help for feeling resentful towards him bc I had corporate dreams and he didn’t support me in them, in fact he made it down right miserable for me. He believes he was supportive but I never have been able to tell him “no, you weren’t”, he expects more from me then I ever did of him, I take care of his I’ll mother whose disease is serious but nothing people don’t live with every day. My father has cancer and I’ve put all my time and all my energy into taking care of his mom. I have recently been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and my doctors say I’m in need of eliminating stress.
    My husband snaps at the drop of a dime, we used to be so close, he’s seeing a psychologist now along with a slew of doctors bc he can’t function in crowds, if we go to dinner he has to sit where he can see an exit at all times constantly scanning the room. He never used to leave without kissing me good bye and telling me he loved me, when he travels for work I don’t hear from him until the day he returns home when he’s close to home, I’ve found myself asking him if I did something fo him often? It’s always no. But last night we had an argument and he told me to leave. His mother lives with us, and she begged me just to stay in the spare bedroom downstairs, she says he’s not going to let you go. I wish I felt that deep down.
    My husband and I have always been a team in life but lately there is a major disconnect, not sure if that’s been due to seeing a psychologist And reliving the past, as stated above he snaps at everything, he has no patience, he’s constantly somewhere else even if he’s in the same room, he’ll stare at the wall sitting in a recliner flicking his pocket knife repeatedly, he’s had nightmares lately that have woken me from my sleep due to the kicking punching and screaming he’s doing in bed during the nightmares, I only know so much, bc he was special Forces he will not talk to me, I know some horrible vividly expressed things that haunt him. Things that would haunt any human. But I don’t know how to help him, I’m hanging on by a thread, I was only with him for two months before he discharged from the army, I feel alone I don’t know who to talk to, or where to gather information on how to cope and help everyone else cope with how he’s been treating all of us. Feelings of hopelessness have arisen, I never imagined our life together would be like this.
    Side note: refuses marriage counseling, if anyone has any suggestions I’m open to them. Thank you.

  9. I have ruined my marriage. I habe been battling PTSD for 11 years I have made my wife feel alone, unappreciated, feel like her feelings didnt matter, and that she couldnt talk to me. I want to fix this so bad I am getting help from the VA to learn to deal with PTSD, but I dont know how to fix my marriage and it feels like she has made up her mind to leave. What can I do?

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