Navigating Combat PTSD in Relationships: Building Resilience Together


Bent but not Broken

While combat PTSD can cause serious relationship problems, there is hope. Anywhere from 90% to 95% of survivors can restore their former relationship’s intimacy. To get there, though, you’ll need to work together as a couple to overcome pain and hardship.

Here, we will discuss some ways couples can build resilience after a traumatic experience. From communication techniques to mutual support, read on to delve into actionable insights to strengthen relationships impacted by the challenges of combat PTSD.

Understand the Causes of Relationship Issues

The root cause of most relationship problems after one person sustains combat PTSD is emotional distance. Those with PTSD are frequently irritable, anxious, and jumpy. This anxiety means that they may not be able to relax around partners enough to feel safe and intimate.

This can create strain on relationships because they enter into a caregiver role. When they’re anxious, someone with combat PTSD may try harder to protect those they love most and come off as demanding or controlling. This is stressful for both parties.

Cope With the Emotional Toll of Combat PTSD Together

Partners of those with combat PTSD should do some individual work to understand it better. Some things to do include:

  • Watch videos and read articles about PTSD’s impacts
  • Read online stories of others to feel less alone
  • Build emotional awareness to recognize triggers and distress
  • Ask questions of their partner when they don’t understand something

Partners also should seek professional support or support from other loved ones when things get too difficult. Family and friends can reduce isolated feelings.

Foster a Safe Environment

People with PTSD often feel detached from their emotions. This can cause them to become colder with intimate partners than they were prior to combat. This makes sense when you consider that they’re trying to slough off painful feelings and protect themselves by avoiding emotions and triggers altogether.

Partners of combat veterans can help them open up by having safe and supportive conversations about PTSD-triggering incidents. No one should be pushy, but partners should ensure that veterans know that it’s safe to open up about what happened in private.

This allows the combat veteran to feel supported when contending with emotions that don’t always feel safe. Remember that both parties need to work together as a team to restore their former intimacy.

Relationship Communication Strategies to Keep in Mind

Sometimes, the emotional distance between partners can make communication frustrating and difficult. Fostering a safe space is important, but sometimes you’ll need professional guidance to understand what “safe” means to veterans.

Couple’s therapy with a psychiatrist who specializes in PTSD can help you understand how to create this safety. They can facilitate conversations about both the traumatic event and the symptoms that are hurting the relationship. A professional can help both parties come up with effective coping strategies together.

Build Resilience With Your Loved One in Texas

Now that you know how to build resilience in relationships by navigating combat PTSD, it’s time to begin getting professional help. Cpl. Chad Eric Oligschlaeger Foundation for PTSD is committed to providing couples with tools and resources for effective communication. Look into treatment options and apply for a sponsorship today.

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