PTSD & Relationships: How To Be There For Your Partner
Updated April 09, 2020
Reviewer Cessel Boyd
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a very serious condition that impacts the lives of many people. Those who have PTSD have a difficult time coping with certain traumatic events that have occurred in the past. Many of those who have been diagnosed with PTSD have served in the military. However, PTSD can develop from any traumatic event. When people experience horrible events, those moments can haunt them for a very long time and cause PTSD.
It is currently estimated that around eight million people have PTSD during a typical year. This is a condition that impacts both men and women. In fact, ten percent of all women will develop PTSD at some point in their lives. Only four percent of men will go through PTSD.
How Can I Help My Partner?
If your partner is going through PTSD symptoms, then you're probably wondering what you can do to help. This is a very difficult situation to be in. You just want to be there for someone that you love dearly, but you aren't sure how you can make a difference. There are many ways that you can be there for your partner, and they can help.
Support Them As Much As You Can
You should try to support your partner as much as you can. Someone who is going through struggles with PTSD is going to feel very vulnerable mentally. They might not be able to do things like they did before they started experiencing these PTSD symptoms. For your partner to feel better, they're going to need a lot of love and support.
If you want a relationship to work with someone who has PTSD, then you need to do your best to provide support while understanding their limitations. The truth is that PTSD & relationships won't always be easy. This is something that could truly test your bond with your partner, and that might make it tough to want to continue. Not everyone has the strength to help their partner through PTSD, but it's up to you to decide how supportive you're capable of being.
Be Ready To Listen
Your partner needs to have someone to talk to about what is going wrong. Ideally, your significant other should be working with a dedicated therapist. They're also going to need to be able to talk to you. You should be ready to listen and support them while they're going through struggles.
It's not a good idea to try to push someone with PTSD to talk about things, though. Let your partner open up to you naturally, and they'll do so when they feel capable. Over time, they might even talk about some of the issues that have been causing them anguish. You should listen and be attentive during these times to support them to the fullest.
You also have to avoid saying the wrong things. You see, some of the stuff that your partner is telling you will likely be hard to hear. Things that cause PTSD can often be very disturbing, and this might wind up bothering you. Just try to let them know that you love them. Don't belittle them or tell them that things will get better. Just be there and be ready to listen without making the conversation about yourself.
Your Partner Might Not Feel Lovable
Your partner might not even feel as if they deserve to be loved at all. This can be very problematic when you're the one who loves them. You see, people who have PTSD often feel like they're weak or like they're doing things wrong. This can manifest itself as doubts about whether they're good enough for you.
All you can do in this situation is reassure your partner that you love them very much. Try to do normal activities with your partner when possible, and show them affection. Hopefully, they'll feel your love and be ready to respond in kind. It can take time to build up trust with someone who has PTSD, and it can also be difficult to make them feel safe if you want to have a loving relationship with someone who as PTSD, you're going to have to be willing to put in the effort.
Help To Predict And Manage Triggers
People who have PTSD have certain triggers that will cause them to relive painful events from the past. If you can understand the types of things that can trigger these episodes, then you can do your best to keep them from happening. Loud noises or explosions might trigger episodes in some people who have PTSD. Others might have problems when they're exposed to flashing lights.
Learn about these triggers and then do your best to manage them. You should work together with a skilled therapist to figure out what to do when your partner is having an episode. You won't be able to plan for and eliminate all possible triggers. Episodes will happen from time to time. For this reason, you should have a plan to help calm your partner down.
Therapists are great at helping you and your partner to understand techniques that will make getting through these episodes simpler. You should be able to figure out what to do, and you'll be able to help your partner feel safe. It's imperative to find a skilled therapist to work with your partner when he/she has PTSD. There are even online options for you to consider.
Understand That Your Partner Will Have Bad Days
Those who have PTSD will occasionally deal with extreme emotions. This can manifest itself as a type of angry outburst. Your partner might yell at you or seem incredibly irritable during the worst days. When this happens, it can be tough to keep from getting emotional about it. You don't want the person that you love to treat you this way, but you also understand that they can't help what they're going through.
You have to prepare yourself for the bad days mentally. You might be able to use the above advice to predict and manage your partner's triggers, but there will be times where an episode will occur. When your partner is struggling with their PTSD, it is going to make them feel unstable. You will need to be able to accept this and deal with it to help your partner move forward.
Understand that these days are going to take a toll on both of you. There will be tumultuous times, but you can learn to manage things better than usual. This will allow you to lessen the impact that these emotional outbursts will have. When someone with PTSD has a supportive partner like you, it can make it so much simpler to live a happier life.
You Need To Take Care Of Yourself Too
Taking care of yourself is also very important when you want to be there for your partner. PTSD has the potential to be very difficult to deal with. There are likely going to be days where your partner will have a very rough time. This can even cause them to lash out at you.
You know how tough PTSD can be and you understand that there are going to be tough times ahead. This is why taking care of yourself matters so much. You need to keep yourself healthy so that you'll have the strength to be there for your partner. This involves taking care of yourself, both physically and mentally.
It's going to be a good idea to have a support system for yourself. As much as you want to be there for your partner at all times, there are going to be days where you'll need someone to lean on. Having your family or close friends to talk to about your feelings will be useful. Sometimes you need to unleash your emotions and speak to someone outside of the situation. It isn't something that you have to face alone.
You can also try to get others to help your partner out, too. For instance, your partner might also have a family who loves him/her very much. They will be willing to help out when possible so that you can take some time away for yourself to pursue your interests. As much as you love your partner, it's still going to be important to maintain a life outside of the relationship.
Don't just stop doing the things that you love because you're worried about your partner. You can take the time to hang out with friends or participate in your hobbies. It's important to find the right mix so that you can feel happy and healthy. Just do your best to understand your limits so that you don't experience problems with your mental health.
Online therapy is a great resource when your partner has PTSD. Online therapists are different than normal therapists due to being available at all times. You can reach out to a therapist online whenever your partner is in need. They even offer couples counseling to help you work on your relationship and establishing trust.
You can use the online therapists to help get through PTSD episodes when they occur. You're even going to be able to contact them at odd hours of the day. This is very easy for you to use when your partner needs professional help. These compassionate professionals understand PTSD, and they're going to know how to help your partner in the best possible way.