Post # 1
So, here is my question for you ladies ( and gentlemen) out there…
My Fiance and I have a great relationship… he is extremely loving, kind, sensitive to my needs and our relationship and he would do anything in the world for me.. BUT ( here it is…) he has PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder- from his experiences in Iraq.
This means he has some other health issues from the military, but the hardest thing to cope with is the PTSD symptoms. Has anyone out there dealt with mental health issues with their SO? What are some good ways to deal with someone who has dealt with some traumatic experiences?
It doesn’t take center stage in our relationship… but there are times where he will get very angry at something very small or he will have a panic attack out of nowhere. He takes medication for it, which has slowed down our “intimacy” with one another significantly… although we are working on this and it has gotten better. He has gone through cycles where he does not crave intimacy, and it is left up to me to either initiate , or just let it go. There have been many nights going to sleep feeling very unwanted or unattractive, but he assures me that it is NOT me and that it is just the medication. Some of this other buddies’ wives or girlfriends have told me they experience the same thing, and that it is not just me.
Any thoughts?? I guess it just hit me hard this morning because over the weekend we spent some time with military buddies and also family, and sometimes those events inspire him to talk more about what happened in Iraq ( he almost NEVER talks to me about it, at least not the bad things… he will talk all day long about random everyday life events that happened there, but not the stuff that is really getting to him).
I guess I just needed to get it off of my chest, since I do not want to talk with anyone face to face about it… it is his business and I do not feel comfortable talking to my friends or family when they know him…because I know what a deeply personal thing a mental health issue is. However; I need to know how others deal with it without giving away all of our “secrets” to friends and family!
Post # 3
You NEED to talk to someone face to face about it!! To be able to support your SO through this, you need to be at your best. Also to be able to kept your own health and good spirits you need to as well
Right now you sound like you need some proper tools to use to get both him and YOU through this as best as you can.
Your Fiance sounds like he is taking all the right steps and GOOD FOR HIM! A lot don’t! Sure they would be more affectionate with you still since they aren’t taking the meds, but they might also snap one day and hurt themselves, or you, or just take out the angst in other ways like substance addiction or cheating or other risky behaviour.
Please see someone. I am sure that there is support that is covered for BOTH of you by the Army. In the CF I know this for sure, and I am SURE the US Army is the same.
If all else fails, see your FIs unit’s Padre.
ETA: I wrote all above whilst assuming that your S.O is seeing a therapist for this illness on a regular basis. I really hope I am assuming correctly. If I am wrong, the Padre maybe be the person who could intervene as most Padres speak the guys “language” and most also have been on the ground, so the guys respect them for it.
Good luck and hugs to you!!
Post # 4
I have been diagnosed with PTSD (from an abusive relationship in my past, not military related). It’s a tough thing to live with, whether it’s you or someone you love. My soon-to-be-ex husband blames a lot of our problems on it.
Is your Fiance in counseling for his PTSD? You mentioned he’s on medication, so he must have been at some point. There are a number of coping mechanisms that can help, but they do take time to learn and master, and nothing is fail safe. If he’s not in counseling, I would encourage him to get back into weekly counseling; if he is, see how he would feel about you joining him at a session or two to talk about your role in his healing process, and how you can help him when he triggers. It’s probably really hard for him to express the ways you might help on his own (or possibly even he’s not aware of them), but that doesn’t mean you can’t help. That’s why I suggest you go wtih him to counseling, because the counselor might be able to help him articulate or understand some of the ways you can help.
I’m sorry you’re both going through this.
Post # 5
Yes, he is in counseling through the VA and it has helped some. We were not together when he was deployed and when he got home from Iraq. According to him ( and close friends and family).. his situation HAS improved, so there is hope.
However; since I wasn’t there when he was deployed and when he first got back, I do not want to make him “fill me in” on details of things he has worked through, I guess? Don’t know if that makes sense or not.
He has even improved since we have been together, but when he does retreat or have one of those days… I do not know how to respond to him. He says the best thing to do is to just let him talk if he wants to talk or be alone if he wants to be alone.
He sought help almost immediately because he sensed there was a problem… so I am VERY proud of him for doing that. Like I said earlier on… since I wasn’t around when he was going through the brunt of it, I am not sure how to handle it moving forward. I have lightly broached the topic of going to counseling together… and he hasn’t rejected the idea totally, but he hasn’t felt that it is necessary, either. I don’t want to make it a bigger issue than it really is. 99.9% of the time, life goes on and we have minor difficulties… but then that .01% creeps up and it reminds me that there was a time not so long ago when he was a much different person. I am so happy with him and proud of who he is as a man… and I do not want to change him, but I want to know how to be there for him.
Sorry… I am rambling!!! What a Monday … lol
Post # 6
My sister has been married for three years to an Iraqi vet and he’s now showing signs of PTSD. It started when she 7 1/2 months pregnant, which was even more stressful. He’s manifesting his symptoms by having issues with alcohol. He drinks to pass out (not every night though) and he lies and sneaks drinks too. It’s been a nightmare for her to deal with because otherwise, he’s a good husband, has a good job and is really good with the baby.
He won’t talk to her either. He did try counseling with a therapist recommended by the military but he didn’t trust the guy because he’d never “been on the ground”. And it’s been a struggle to get him to see someone else. But you can’t push someone into therapy if they don’t want to go.
She has decided to go to AlAnon so she can talk to others and get some perspective. So, yes go to counseling yourself even if he won’t go yet. I think it is really hard for any man, but especially one who has served in the military and seen battle to admit they need help. They probably see it as a sign of weakness and if any of their army buddies find out, they would probably be humiliated even more.
I do feel for you because I know what my sister is going through. But if he is a good guy other than this issue, it can hopefully be worked out. But you both are going to need professional help to do it. It’s going to take patience and lots of effort but he sounds like he’s worth it.
Post # 7
I think it would be really helpful for you to go for counselling by yourself a little bit. This way you can say what you need to really say and not fear of hurting his feelings. Saying stuff about the sexual contact lacking while he is on the meds can be really detrimental. Youre not WRONG by the way, that is not what I am saying. I just think you deserve your own help right now because really, the problem isn’t between you two, your problems are seperate, yet linked because one is due to the other. Thats all.
Post # 8
@SorryCantSay: I’m so glad he is being so proactive about caring for his own mental health! The fact that he is actively in counseling, sought out counseling himself, and is willing to go with you if necessary are all huge things, because it means he knows that it’s not him, it’s just this thing in his brain and it means he wants to get beyond it.
I don’t think I was very clear about why I think you should go with him. I think you should attend 1 or MAYBE 2 (if necessary) sessions, and just so that he and the counselor can give YOU some wisdom on coping with his episodes. Not go through everything he’s been through, etc., just stuff like what questions to ask to help him talk it out, ways you can help through physical touch (for me, “straight jacket hugs” help a lot with the panic attacks, haha, it sounds weird, but it really does help), ways you can help spot when he’s on the verge of an episode, etc. Also things like if there are appropriate ways for you to help him remove himself from certain social situations if he starts to have a panic attack or experiences a trigger in public, etc.
It would be more about you helping him with his coping mechanisms (being part of the solution) than about you hearing all about the problem, his past, etc.
EDIT: I do agree with PP’s too that individual counseling for you might be good. I think everyone in the whole world could benefit from counseling though.
Post # 9
WOW… I definitely feel for your sister! Fiance hasn’t done anything like take to drinking or start some other type of behavior like that. The biggest issues are random outbursts of anger ( mostly towards very small things) and our sex life… which isn’t bad, because I know of a lot of womens husbands/boyfriends who lose ALL interest. That is not the case with us… but I definitely get turned down a lot and I feel very rejected often times when we are going through a dry spell.
He is a great guy, though. For example:: he know that I was feeling a little bummed about not being able to do any showers/bachelorette party because i live so far from my wedding party and because another friend is getting married right before me and a lot of people are already spending money on her wedding. So he ( without me knowing).. called my sister and offered to pay $1,000 towards travel expenses, decorations.. whatever to make sure that they would be able to do SOMETHING. The only reason I found out about it is because he told me the other night when he we were having a very frank discussion about getting married… other than that, I never would have known!
Post # 10
Sorry.. didnt see you posted this but yes I agree and have thought about just going by myself, to talk things out and also to gain some new perspective
LOL at the everyone could use some counseling! We do have a bit of a system although it may be a bit of a flawed system, especially in social settings where we have a code word and I squeeze his knee a few times if things are getting out of hand or if a group of people broach a topic that I know may bother him.
Post # 11
RE: couselling – Agreeeeed
Fiance and I got some pre-deployment couselling offered to us and we went to one session together. I’ve been going by myself ever since. And we don’t even really discuss deployment issue.
Post # 12
HUGS to you! I understand what you are going through. My Fiance has dealt with PTSD issues based on a military operation he was involved with back in 1989 (Operation Just Cause).
I can tell you things will get better, it takes time. My Fiance still struggles from time to time with panic attacks. He and I weren’t together back in 1989 either, and sometimes he will open up to me and tell me bits and pieces of what he went through. But, like you, I never ask him about it…I let him tell me.
I love my Fiance with all my heart. He is my other half, and there were times early on in our relationship that I thought I didn’t know how to deal with his issues. But as time goes on and I undertand more about what he has gone through, it is a little easier.
I wish you both the best! I will pray he continues on a path of healing. Our service members are incredible people…if the American public had just half a clue of some of the things they have to endure….we should bow down to them!
Post # 13
Thanks for sharing that with me! I do not question whether we will make it or not.. but I definitely have questioned if I am the best one for his situation! I agree, our service men and women are under a lot of stress and have endured a lot!
I am just so thankful that there is progress being made and that others have told me that it is has gotten better for them/ their SO’s
Post # 14
First of all.. HUGS to you. That must be terribly difficult. I know from experience with my dad having issues with PTSD/Depression/ Bi Polar disorder is that time and patience are going to be your best bets. It certainly is not easy to see loved ones struggle with something you cannot see, but the best way to be there for them is to just be available. Your Fiance knows he can trust you and go to you, which is why he decided to marry you. As far as the intimacy goes… even couples with “picture perfect mental health” have issues and go through cycles. I am sure a lot of it is the medication he is on, like he said. My Fiance and I aren’t always on the same page… whether that be we stress differently, express emotions differently, have higher/lower drives than the other at the time. You’re not alone in that one! I agree with the PP that it does take TIME and be open/available to counseling, even if it is just solo counseling for you.