Finding Peace.Trust.Strength.Discipline when you are in a marriage where PTSD is present.
Being married to someone with PTSD certainly has its challenges. Knowing what the issue is and learning how to address it together helps you win the battle. It’s kind of like when you find out you have cancer --- your first reaction might be --- “Oh my God! How are we ever going to manage this?” But as you sit with it, process it, and talk with trained professionals you learn soon enough that there can be a definite plan for treatment, and expected healing. It is not easy and there are certainly still moments when you wonder if it is all worth it, but every day brings at least one beautiful moment to remind you that this life is manageable, maybe even magical and absolutely worth it.
The problem comes though when PTSD goes undiagnosed or untreated.
So, let’s begin --- my husband and I met when we were 16 – he a sophomore and me a junior in high school. We were kids in love. We were kids who brought lots of drama and baggage with us. We were kids who grew up together and sometimes competed against one another. In fact, that is probably what we enjoyed most – showing up the other. We loved each other, but we also walked a fine line of hate with each other. Why we fought one another for so long, I will never understand. It wasn’t fun and it certainly created so much hurt, but for some reason we had to do it that way.
Much of our relationship was like that – twisted. We would do something out of love for one another; although, our initial intention was meant to be positive, soon toxic, twisted thinking would pour into our mind. Most of the time I could see the illogical or unnatural thought processes and could pull myself back to a positive frame of mind. Still though, I would find moments when I would say or think things and go “Oh my Gawd. Where did that come from? What the hell?” It was thinking from a toxic place… thinking that comes in from a toxic voice. It was not God’s voice or even my voice, it was a voice so dark, so far removed from this earth, so terrible that it could only come from the depths of hell.
So, how do you cope with something like that? Well, you pray… you pray, and you enlist others to pray with you and for you. You become so conscious of your relationship with God that you pray even before you need to pray. You ask for help before you need help. You become proactive instead of reactive. And, you hope.
You hope that God overtakes your life with such force, such power that anything coming against you burns before it touches you. But if it has to touch you, you are prepared because you have a God with angels and saints who is so much bigger than any enemy coming against you, they do not stand a chance in continuing to twist your thinking.
Finding Peace: “It is finished”
My husband and I were married in October 1996. It was a beautiful Catholic wedding with the church completely filled with people. We had a large wedding court. I wore the fluffy sleeve; full bodied princess wedding gown and he wore his Dress Blues. When the church doors opened, and the entire church stood to turn and look at me. I truly felt like a princess walking up the aisle to meet her prince, except I was already scared then. I remember the feeling and you can see the shift in our wedding video when my face quickly changes from a huge smile to one quivering with tears. I wasn’t sad to be leaving my family, but I was suddenly so scared and didn’t know why. Twisted thinking.
When I look back at that time there were certainly toxic behaviors present in our relationship already then but hearing the words “it is finished” helped me to understand that the “bitter gall” is over. Funny though, because I had to hear them over a dozen times or more over the past three years to believe them. God spoke them over me again and again – loud and clear – but I was not in a place to hear them.
Does that mean that my husband and I would move forward in a perfect relationship? Well no, not exactly, but we have more tools in place and have learned how to work with each other instead of against each other.
It’s funny to me that sometimes God has to almost tattoo His answer on our forehead before we listen to Him. Thank goodness He is an ever loving – ever giving – ever patient man. He never gives up on us, even when we give up on ourselves and one another; He continues to fight for us!
Tools that he has given us, so that we don’t have to fight – we have only to focus:
1. Counselor – 1 for each of us.
a. This was a different approach for us. We had been through marriage counseling before. It always ended well, but within 18 months – 2 years we would find ourselves in a worse place than we were before.
b. How was it different?
i. I researched the bios of over 40 counselors and prayed for 4 days before choosing my husband’s counselor.
ii. 2 different counselors meant we would hold our sessions alone to talk about what we needed to work on individually.
iii. 2 different counselors meant the ability to come together a few times for the counselors to help us learn how to communicate again and to see how we behaved individually, as well as, together.
iv. 2 different counselors gave us room to breathe.
2. Gratitude – everyday
a. we work to remember to thank each other and God for at least one good thing in our relationship and our life each day.
b. How is this different?
i. We focus on being thankful for our relationship with God and one another first. This allows us to go into our day knowing that those closest to us are taken care of, so that we can more fully engage with others.
ii. Hearing the words “thank you” or “I appreciate you” help you to know that you are valued, which goes a long way in moments where you are triggered and struggling.
3. Prayer – the ability to talk to God any time – day or night.
a. This was fairly natural for me. What wasn’t it, was actually slowing down to listen.
b. How is this different?
i. God speaks to us in different ways – recognizing those ways is crucial to healing.
ii. Journaling and asking questions – sitting, writing, and reading the answers.
iii. Writing letters to God - learning to wait when He asked me to wait.
If you find yourself in a relationship where PTSD is present consider using one of the tools listed above as you walk towards healing together. When you have the right tools in place, it helps to reroute the journey from twisted thinking towards listening, understanding, validating, and empathizing with one another each step of the way.
Have a beautiful day ya'll!
All My Love,
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