Is your marriage strong enough for isolation and PTSD?
April 2, 2020
People like me have been telling veterans the worst they can do is to isolate. Right now, the worst thing for their health is to be out. It is saving their lives but eating away at them at the same time.
This is a trying time for any marriage. When you add a veteran with PTSD, it can make it even harder to go from day to day. I am sharing this with you so that you can learn from our long history and be able to take some of the extra stress off your shoulders.
This morning my husband and I were talking about how isolating during COVID-19 pandemic has tested our marriage. It is hard being together all the time. Then again, it has not just been a few weeks for us. We've been together 24/7 since the end of September. Now that is a test of a marriage!
We moved from about 1,600 miles, with no clue where we would live. We had to walk away from the house we made an offer on in New Hampshire, and our house sold in Florida. The day we passed papers was our 35th anniversary. I was unemployed because I had to leave a job I loved and pretty much, we were homeless, with plenty of money in the bank.
My attitude was that it was a second honeymoon and a road trip!
Our long marriage has been tested over and over again. The first test came was when mild PTSD exploded! When it did, I already knew what PTSD was since I had been researching it for years. I had no clue that it could get worse with other traumatic events.
Readers of Wounded Times know our story very well, so I do not want to rehash all of that right now. You can read about it in the book I wrote back in 2002 and then republished in this edition.
(I am not trying to make money off this, and when you see how little it costs, you'll believe me.)
Here is a video I did with a good friend of mine on this book.
No matter what, let them know you love them. It does not mean you have to approve of the way they act. It does not mean you are supposed to always like them. He asks me "Do you love me?" out of the blue and I aways say "Yes, always...and sometimes I even like you." Do not expect perfection out of yourself or your marriage...or them! Nothing is ever perfect.
Love them enough to learn what PTSD is and be empowered to act and react appropriately. I have a lot of videos on PTSD that can help you understand them better. Learn why they think irrationally, have overblown reactions or, end up looking for an argument.
Take some stress off your shoulders knowing what you can do to cut unnecessary tension and stop blaming yourself for the way they act. It really has nothing to do with you but if you do not know what is going on with them, you will end up blaming yourself.
No matter how much I knew about PTSD, I still blamed myself for what I lacked or what I was not good enough for. If you know nothing about PTSD, it is worse for you!
No one automatically has patience. It requires practice! The more you work at it, the more natural it will be to let things go. Before you react to them trying to piss you off, ask yourself how important it is to get into it with them. Most of the time, you'll decide to just shake your head instead of pounding your fist. If it is important enough then stand your ground but think before you speak. An unspoken word does not have be regretted. Once you say it, you can apologize all you want, but the damage is done.
I used to argue until I decided to just walk away. He knows he is in more trouble if I said nothing. Most of the time, he follows me, acknowledges my anger is beyond words. He says he is sorry and then tells me to come talk to him when I am over it. We have avoided many heated arguments that way and my blood pressure stopped changing the color of my face!
Take Care Of YourselfThere were times early on in our marriage when I forced him to come with me. I learned the hard way, neither of us enjoyed whatever it was I wanted to do. I started to just go off by myself. He was always invited but if he did not want to go, I went and had a good time.
I learned to live for myself! I went to movies with friends because he could not stand movie theaters. I went shopping by myself because he had a hard time with crowds. Most of the time I went to family events alone and when asked where he was, I just said he was having a bad day. No excuses and no other explanations were needed.
To some our marriage is not "normal" but for us, it became our "new normal" just as yours can be. Do not try to be like others and find what works for you.
If our marriage lasted all these years with PTSD...so can yours!