I think my husband's PTSD is triggered. He's kicked me out and is talking about divorce. Help?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (44 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
We're a military couple, married 2 years, engaged 1 year, dating 1 year. I (30, f, civilian, student) met him (30, m, Army, enlisted) when he was recovering from injuries received in combat. We met through friends; we stayed together through his recovering from his injuries, his getting restationed to Korea, and a deployment. We got married following the deployment, and I eventually accelerated my academics so I could move out to his new post in another state, far away from my family, friends, and job opportunities. I did this because I love him; even though I was really homesick, I tried very hard to make it work. Unfortunately, I constantly disappointed him -- I was a bad housekeeper, bad at keeping a budget, bad at managing his and my schedule... even me taking 2 months in a bad economy to find a job made him angry. I ended up working 2 different jobs because he felt like he was being taken advantage of by supporting me. To be fair, I am actually pretty bad at being a housewife -- it was more difficult than I thought it would be to stay on chores and cooking and whatever, and I dropped the ball a lot.
He wasn't the person I'd married when I moved in with him. He was angry all the time, really quiet and distant, and sometimes a little scary. He would sometimes not talk to me at all when he came home, unless he wanted to know about dinner. Other times, he would come home, find a mistake I had made and yell at me for two hours straight. He never hit me, though, he just yelled a lot or avoided me. When he got diagnosed with PTSD, I inwardly rejoiced because I figured once we got it under control through treatment, things would go back to normal. He didn't pursue counseling, however, and things stayed the same. Eventually, he got an opportunity to switch career paths to something he was more interested in, and went to school for a few months, while I prepped the apartment we had for another move since this new career trajectory would make us have to move. We had been at this new post for only 8 months, but honestly I was so glad we would be moving because I thought this could be a fresh start for us, away from all the arguing and stress and mutual disappointment. This was not the case. He had decided at school that he wanted a divorce. He told me after I arrived to our new home that I should call my dad (who lives w. my mom in another state about 15 hrs away) to get me.
So now I'm at my parents' house. He was initially going to do invidiual counseling, because he said he was so angry all the time he thought he would hurt me and that was why he had needed me to leave. However he did the intake session and said he wont go back. He also wont do marriage counseling because he doesnt want to be told he needs to change or that he needs to be "less than" or prioritize me more (which the individual counselor apparrently said). He says he's so angry about our bad year that he doesn't even want to see me when I go pick up my stuff with my mom, and is also angry about a party I went to before we got engaged where I got a little drunk and flashed a girlfriend. He says I lied about that last bit (which I did) and that his finding out a few months after it happened (my sister was teasing me about it) was indicative of me being really manipulative. I told him it's actually more indicative of me being absent minded, since I had forgotten about not telling him, since the party was like 4 years ago. It's actually something I joke about with family and friends because even though it was initially embarassing to me, the story itself is funny (think slapstick goofiness at a co-ed bacholarette party involving maybe 3 minutes of boob). Plus, both the party and his finding out happened 3 years and 2 years ago respectively, so I'm not sure why now he's mad about it. We talked about it 2 years ago and he seemed ok. He says now he was just faking that because I had hurt him too much with that betrayal.
We'll be cool on the phone (in fact, almost like our good times), and have talked nearly every day for the last few weeks. I've asked him if we could work up to weekend trips or something like that, because I really love him and I don't want to get a divorce. I don't think he's so sick that he can't get better. However he says he's too angry, and that he's pretty sure this divorce is what he, at least, needs.
In writing this out, Im seeing how bad a situation it is, because I'm describing a husband who sounds, like, totally crazy and angry and has said he wants a divorce and is planning on talking to a lawyer about it. But please believe it's his PTSD -- he was not like this before his most recent deployment. He was incredibly sweet and kind, and genuinely loved me. I see glimpses of that man every time he laughs when we talk on the phone. He used to be so tender and sweet, but when he talks about how he's still angry at me or how he wants a divorce he gets really cold. He doesn't sound like himself at all. It's really weird.
Here are my question:
**What can I do to make this not hurt as much? It's so painful. Ive been crying so much I feel like Im choking. It's a little better now but then it will hit me again and I'm done. I feel like if I could be more rational/strategic I could figure this out.
**How can I fix this? I so, so don't want a divorce, and really feel like a good part of this is an extended episode of intrusive thoughts/emotions (like the uncontrollable anger he has) and chronic hyperarousal. I'm actually kind of worried about him, since Im really far away and he's in a new place without a support network. I'd move out there, but I don't know if he'd be receptive to that, and I don't have a way of supporting myself yet without living with him or my parents. I'm looking for jobs in both places in case something pans out.
**Is there a way I can support him in his struggles with PTSD without further hurting myself? I feel so sad and anxious all the time now and that wasn't who I was before we lived together. I'm constantly afraid of making mistakes, and I used to be more bold. I know this is in part because of his yelling, but again, I think if he got help we could figure this out.