How Do I Help My Husband with PTSD (Army)

Updated on June 17, 2011
B.C. asks from Centerville, UT
11 answers

If any one has read any of my other posts than it is no secret that I have been on a rollercoaster ride in my marriage. I have come to the conclusion that alot may have to do with my husbands ptsd from being in the Army and going to Iraq. He is out of the Army now but recieves disability. Recently he was re-evaluated and recieved ALOT more and its just for ptsd. This worries me because most of the things are causing problems in our marriage, for example, "flattened effect", "unable to make and obtain close relationships", "mood swings","depression"... the list goes on...But how do I encourage him to get more help with the ptsd. He refuses to go to a counciler!! He is always up and down emotionally and recently it almost ruined our marriage once again! I dont want our relationship to end especially because he has this problem(s), however I cant make it better if he wont go for any help. I feel like I have done it all, I am trying to be patient and I am trusting in God to help us though this, I just need some encouragement right now. Any advice will help! Thanks so much

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answers from Denver on

My cousin came back with severe PTSD. His bunker was bombed and he lost three of his closest friends. He cam back violent towards his family (even his 13yr old brother) and had a heavy drinking problem. He started doing yoga--yup yoga and has calmed down ever since. He still has issues but it's helped a lot with his mental state. Maybe he can give that a try. My cousin didn't want to at first cause it was "girly" but he warmed to it when a counsellor wasn't helping and he was desperate to fix himself. Now he's trying to get the whole family to go.

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answers from Salt Lake City on

sometimes knowing why he's acting the way he's acting is enough for you to pull extra patience out of thin air. When he does something that upsets you, use your empathy.

I'd try to talk to him about it at a time when it's not a hot issue - not during a fight or anything. I'd be really humble about it and let him know I want to be supportive. I would NOT try to fix him or push him into doing things.

"it makes me feel sad to see you hurting..."
"I don't understand what it's like..."
"if you don't mind telling me, what do you do that helps?"
"or what's your plan?..."

if you really are just listening and not trying to fix him...then you can continue with:
"I read that getting an animal like a puppy helps - but since I don't know what it's like I don't know if it would really help or not. Do you think that's something that might help? I didn't want to just get you a puppy cuz I don't understand if it'll help or not..."
"What is your plan and what can I do to support you?
"I know you don't want to do counseling. I don't want to fight. I want to understand. I want to understand why counseling isn't the right thing for you so I can support you better. I'm sorry I've been pushing you for it so hard."

He'll know if you're being supportive or trying to push him/manipulate him into doing things.

It's way worth your time to just stand back and see where he's coming from. Do NOT try to explain your position on things. He already knows. If he gets defensive, you will NOT get to know what he's thinking. Knowing what he's thinking will definitely help.

If he's not ready to open up to you, just say, "Ok, sweetie. I love you." then give him a kiss and let it go. This will help make him feel safe.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I'm going through the same thing. My husband spent only one tour in Iraq but came home early due to an infection that developed in his leg. But he'd been on numerous missions leading up to Iraq. He has PTSD also and exhibits the signs you're talking about. He just received his formal PTSD diagnosis, in fact, even though he's been retired now for 2 years. Anyway, he did go to see the VA counselor -- at my urging -- to get help for his moody/broody attitude and snappy anger problem. They gave him some kind of anti-anger pill (takes the edge off) that worked wonders the first year.. but now his moodiness is back and I'm trying to get him to get a bigger dose or change pills but he's resisting doing this. He also had a dysfunctional upbringing so alot of his attitude toward things like counseling and medication and self improvement is negative and uneducated. Sadly. :( So, I'm wondering what to do myself. We're actually seeing a marriage counselor because of his behavior but he's totally not into it so it may as well be just me getting therapy (even though he's the one who needs it). Basically the counselor is helping me figure out how to deal with him so that we can stay married and together and try to make it work. We've been married over 4 years and have 2 kids and 1 on the way. So I feel your pain, sister, and please know that you're not alone. Many of us military wives are going through this same thing and wondering what to do. Hang in there.. if you find out any wonderful breakthroughs-- let me know (vice versa)!



answers from Denver on

I feel compelled to respond. My husabd also had these problems. My concern is that it is more than just PTSD. Some forms of Bi-Polar disorder can mask as the same symptoms as PTSD. We found out that my husband had this. Of course the medication that was given to help with the PTSD did nothing for him because the trama caused Bi-Polar. I found that it really took him "hitting rock bottom" to seek help. Unfortuantely there really is nothing we can do as spouse other than be there for them and try to weather the storm that comes with it. You just have to remind yourself it is not personal, it is his disease. I found that reminding myself of that helped a little. You might want to suggest to him that if he would feel better you could schedule an appointment for the 2 of you to help you understand what he is going through. That one worked for mine because the appointment was for me. He went happily the first time. He found that he actually was helped and then continued on his own. At least then he could tell people that he was going for me. Hope this helps



answers from Denver on

First I thank you and your husband for the tremendous sacrifice your family has endured for our country! Second, if you husband is willing to seek help I would highly suggest a good Neuro-Feedback clinician. NFB is similar to biofeedback but it is for the brain and it has been extremely effective for PTSD.

Best wishes



answers from Abilene on

I know exactly how you feel. My guy has had it for several years. He already takes the meds but, he drinks any positive effects away. And I've done everything in my power to support him. We have been together for a year and he has made so much progress with me just being there for him. However, recently he has relapsed and gone way down hill. I have finally after 8 months convinced my guy to see a professional PTSD therapist. Of course I had to make the appointment and carefully time the moment to tell him about it. But, he finally agreed. We see her tomarrow for the first, I can't tell you how well it works yet. But, him agreeing to it is a start. My advise to you is: Regardless how bad he mentally drains you, stay by him. When the time is right, he will make that step and THEN you can concentrate on putting your relationship together. Take the initiative to maybe set an appointment up for him BUT tell him you have problems too and you are going to get counseling for yourself as well...for secondary PTSD. Making him feel like you aren't telling him he is the cause of all of your relationship problems...admitting that you need help as well...he may be more willing. I have realized that in order for me to "survive" his disease I have to play mental chess with him. It's all in how they are approached. I hope this helps alittle. :-)



answers from Cheyenne on

I can't imagine what you are going through! I'm so sorry for you AND your husband. It's so sad that these men go and give their all for the country and this is what they get for it.
I saw an Oprah where she visited with wounded veterans from Iraq/Afghanistan. I don't know if your husband is an animal person, but dogs seemed to help a lot of people. The dog provides a way for them to maintain a routine, show affection, and sometimes they can talk to a dog easier than they can talk to a human because they don't have to worry about rejection or judgement from a dog. There are specially trained dogs for this, too, but it doesn't necessarily have to be a trained dog to help. My uncle was a WWII vet and had PTSD and would get flashbacks and nightmares. His doctor recommended a dog and for the rest of his life he was never without a dog. It truly did help him. You might do some research on it and ask your doctor. Good luck!



answers from Denver on

Dear B., I am so sorry for what you and your husband are going through. I am going to send this to my daughter at Military One Source. If you have not contacted Mil. One Source I think it would be a good idea because they help with this kind of problem and they are there for you. Just call and give it a try. K. K.



answers from Salt Lake City on

Does he go to a day program? The Veteran's Admin has a good one at the Salt Lake complex (right by the University of Utah). They have activities and projects to work on, classes, and other activities. They even went on an overnight fishing trip a few months ago. Basically, it gives them things to do in a structured environment with people who understand what they're dealing with. My step-dad has been going there for about a year and I know he is a lot happier and more patient in his marriage.

After building a feeling of safety and belonging in this, he may feel more comfortable going to a counselor. But even if not, it gives him something at least.



answers from Provo on

If you haven't contacted military one source yet, please do. The can talk to you about PTSD and will pay for counseling for you and your husband. Also, are you LDS? If so, have to talked to your bishop about the situation, and has your husband talked to him. He may have some helpful advice.



answers from San Francisco on

Wow!!!!!!!! I feel like I'm reading my own story, I so understand the mood swings the non affection I really don't know what to do either ,I also feel my marriage is over.. and this is so sad especially when you have given everything and tried everything so understand..and when you try they just push you away or shut you out completely .God Bless

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