Has anyone else experienced a shift in their ... - Heal My PTSD

Heal My PTSD

7,310 members11,137 posts

Has anyone else experienced a shift in their marriage while dealing with the difficult path of healing?


First off, I was diagnosed with C-PTSD from childhood mental abuse somewhat physical, and abandonment. I also found out that I have ADHD to boot. I have a therapist, and a psychiatrist - we've been trying to figure my medication. One in particular (Paxil) has made the last few weeks even harder. I had an adverse reaction (basically passing out), I'm weaning off of it but I feel the withdrawal effects. Brain zaps, and mood swings. So I know I'm moodier than usual. My husband knows this but still...

I can't help but notice that my husband looks at me differently, speaks to me differently. I feel that I am annoying or a problem to be solved now. He won't talk to me about normal/random things. We were always best friends first. But I feel us sliding apart.

My natural response is to not be around someone who is tense because of me. I feel lonelier next to him than when he's busy and not home.

I don't know what to do at this point, I've told him and he admitted he doesn't want to talk to me because he's afraid of how I will "feel". I thought we resolved that. But today, it was just awful and I stayed home because I didn't feel ok around him. I felt sad and irritated. He's irritated with me. I can't help but feel what others are feeling especially my husband.

I'll be feeling good and he seems to take it away somehow. I don't quite understand how. Like he reminds me that I'm not always feeling ok and asks why do I seem better today? Then I have to think about it, I'll tell him why. Then he says "he didn't want a whole story."

He's a GOOD husband, I want to make that abundantly clear. But something's changed between us. Can anyone relate?

17 Replies

Definitely! Speaking for myself, I have been dealing with issues for what seems forever. At some point my husband (he's a very good man also) treated me as is I was "delicate". What I mean by that is something like "be careful what you say/tell her! She's fragile!". I despise being treated this way. On the other hand, I legitimately have been diagnosed with not only PPMS but also Generalized Cerebral Atrophy. This is one step away from dementia as my entire brain is much smaller, than a healthy one, due to atrophy which is going to continue as there is no cure. With that said, most things I say are not entirely taken seriously. I try to laugh, make fun of myself however it's extremely disrespectful as I still currently retain some cognitive ability. Did I help at all?

Yes, it’s the being treated like I’m too “delicate” as you say. It feels like disrespect and makes me feel like I’m being treated like a child. I haven’t been a “child” since before puberty. We’ve always been equal partners before but this shift in his perspective of me is tilting the dynamic that we’ve always had. So yeah your words help explain what I am feeling. And I hope you are able to tell your husband to please not talk to others about you in that way.

Thank you

I've always thought, in fact I've always said, men and women see things so very differently when it comes to issues we discussed. It's no different than an illness one may get. I makes it all that much more difficult. Anytime you would like to talk.....

Yes, we both know we have different brains. I have ADHD and the C-PTSD so when I become worried about something, he says it’s not that important. But I will not move through it as quickly as him, which he knows, understands the science behind it, but still can’t seem to help but to do a little “mansplaining”. It’s funny lol but it’s also not.

I honestly think your husband's heart is in the right place. I also honestly think, the male species in general (and I mean absolutely no offense to the male community) simply do not know how to handle these types of situations. Heck, neither do we sometimes! You mentioned a recent diagnoses of ADHD. Have you been prescribed anything to help? I too have same. I have had since as long as I can remember. There truly are some good meds out there to help you!

Yes i have medication for ADHD, i think we finally got the dosage right so I feel human nearly the whole day. My therapist is also amazing and I've moved through some big healing moments as well. My husband and I have come through the other side because I can now focus on loving him the way he was used too.


Hi WhirlyByrd,

I think that any chronic illness can impact the balance of a relationship and it is a very important subject but also a sensitive one.

I have PTSD and my husband has had a cancer and we both need support from each other. Most recently I have been a carer while he has been on a treatment and now he is recovering, I can see I need to adjust my over-protectiveness of him as he needs to feel more empowered.

Just having him lawn mowing was scary at first, to be honest, but I realized he needed to be able to go back to feeling strong and confident again.

I think people affected by any illness/condition are already going through so much that it isn't always the best to talk about the impact of things because the guilt of not being well can bring overwhelm and I feel uneasy about laying it on each other.

For example, it isn't my husband's fault that he had cancer and it isn't my fault that I have PTSD. Being on the receiving end of care can be disempowering particularly if the person who is giving care, does this with less sensitivity.

It is a difficult situation that can lead to resentment and guilt.

I think it is important to recognize emotions for both of you and different ways of coping you both have.

I understand it is very difficult particularly as both of you have been equal in your relationship and that's how it should be, ideally, but life isn't always this way.

Both of you need to feel good about yourselves and you have different areas in which each of you have skills so maybe recognizing those skills might help improve the balance?

For me it is very scary to be in a situation of needing care as I learned to cope in childhood by being independent and being in a situation where I don't have control is very triggering for me because when I didn't have control as a child and I needed care, I was abused.

So just being in a situation of depending on another person for something is really difficult.

Sometimes I feel it takes more courage to accept help than to be in a position of giving care...

My husband and I went through traumatic times in the past year and it has impacted us differently. We talk about it but I felt I needed to be very sensitive as it was already tough enough for him without me adding to the impact it had on him by discussing things...but eventually I shared things because I couldn't stay strong anymore.

I think it is very difficult situation to go through, particularly long term.

I think you need to have space for recovery and be able to feel safe enough to discuss what is shifting without getting hurt. It is important for you to be able to think out loud and process what is happening but at times it can be very challenging when the other person doesn't really want to hear about it.

Does he have any triggers, for example? Being sensitive to each other's triggers even though he doesn't have PTSD, might be something to talk about.

Maybe having an understanding therapist who could help explain things but also support you in your relationship can bring some balance.

I agree that it doesn't mean he is not a good husband but some situations can bring unusual amounts of pressure and people can break under pressure, not because of the relationship but because of the external factors.

Doing enjoyable things together would be great. Having even a small sense of normalcy is important.

Thank you for sharing honestly about this very challenging subject...

I am curious as to what his triggers are. He might not even know himself. That would be a good conversation to have. My therapist suggested my husband attend a session with me, virtual for now. I honestly want to know what I can do better or be more aware of. Thank you.

I can relate! As I went through a period of recovery from sexual abuse, things were a bit tense between us, and understandably so. I cried often, was easily triggered, sometimes had meltdowns...thankfully, he didn't take it personally and knew that I needed space and grace. I often had to apologize for my crazy behavior that at times scared him (the meltdowns) and show him that I appreciated that he was hanging in there with me through thick and thin.

That was over 3 decades ago, and we worked through it and now are growing old together as each other's best friend. It wasn't easy, it caused pain, but we were so committed to my healing that we were willing to walk the rough journey together. I can promise you that facing your pain and working through it is the best way to heal, but you have to include him in your journey.

The most essential thing right now is communication. You both need to feel safe and free to express what's going on. I highly recommend that you do a few sessions of couples counseling so that you can have insight into one another and both feel heard. I honestly think that he's just trying to be sensitive to what you're going through and doesn't want to add to your stress. The way it plays out is that he's being careful with his words and maybe withdrawing. The more you respond negatively to this, the more it confirms to him that you are indeed "fragile." If you want him to treat you the same way as before, then you need to prove to him that you can take it!

And he needs to understand that at times you might cry, seem irrational, need to be held when you vent...you know, the normal things that couples who love each other do for one another. We married "for better, for worse", right? That means walking through tough times together and always seeking each other's best. Life is messy, we all bring some type of baggage into marriage...some have a small backpack and some, like you and me, have a very large suitcase! Yours and mine just take longer to unpack.

You are blessed to have a good man. I bet he honestly wants what's best for you and wants to see you conquer the things that are holding you back from fully flourishing. Invite him into your journey...be completely vulnerable and honest, and let him be as well. If you two can stand back to back and fight all the things coming at you, rather than stand face to face and duke it out with each other, you'll survive and thrive. If we could do it, you can, too. Fight FOR your marriage and for your own heart and soul to be healed.

WhirlyByrd in reply to majolie

He is amazing, we are soulmates. I knew I was going to marry him while he was dating someone else(in high school). I even told my friends. He was a best friend and his presence was always calming or fun.

Oh yes. I think that this situation has changed most people.

I think it’s draining people’s energy physically, emotionally, mentally, psychologically.

There’s no balance.

Going to festivals, hugging friends and family, . It brought balance. It brought other people into our lives.

People are drained from zoom.

I know how difficult it is to be in the middle of processing all of the memories.

I hope you can find what you need from what helps you through what you are going through.

I hope you find what works for you in your relationship.

Take care. Most everyone is adjusting.

It is harder when you can’t do the same fun activities or outings as before.

Hi WhirlyBird, I have CPTSD and ADHD too, and while I am not married these diagnoses have definitely affected my relationship in a similar way.

I feel like, in my case and maybe yours, they’re afraid of both hurting you, and having to examine hurt in themselves. There’s an emotional block where conversations about these things are too risky or too hard for them (at this point anyway). It’s very frustrating when I am seeking support from someone and have to just accept that they can’t provide it at this time.

I saw in your response to another post that your therapist has suggested he come to one of your sessions. It’s funny because I’m terrified to do that with my partner, but looking at this post, that’s exactly what I was going to recommend to you. He just needs help understanding what’s going on with you and how to support you.

I think relationships are always in flux like this. It’s hard to accept one change before another starts, and then if things are stagnant for too long, we panic at every alleged mistake or “bad sign” or shift in energy. I’m trying lately to be SUPER mindful about my partner, trying to be honest and vulnerable but not overbearing. Which takes a lot of trust (difficult concept for me!) because I have to just accept that he loves me and wants the best for me, even though he isn’t sure how to help me.

I feel like this was rambling and I talked about my own situation and not yours, but I related to this a lot and it helped me to see this issue from another person’s perspective.

WhirlyByrd in reply to littlenam

Hi littlenam,

we have been doing much better recently. I closer to my “normal self”, even developed a hobby I’ve always wanted to do but was stuck in waiting. I also became a vegetarian recently because I always wanted to be one since childhood but wasn't allowed. So these things have made me feel like my old independent, happier self. Gaining back my own sense of self, slowly, has les me to being happier lately. My husband just experienced 3 stressful event almost all in one day. I could tell he needed emotional support and I was capable again to support him and his feelings. So the balance is coming back. It will get better. Make sure that your partner knows that you are there for them as much as they are there for you. Tell them that you want to know what their needs are, worries. I was surprised a couple weeks ago I made him tell me what was wrong and he said “I want love too”. It broke my heart and we cried together and I rushed to him to hug him and we just stayed like that for a while. Communicating is key.

littlenam in reply to WhirlyByrd

Oh my god, I’m so glad to hear this story. You know, I think that might be what’s going on in my relationship too. I’ve become kind of internally focused and haven’t been engaging in...much of anything. Plus in two weeks I’m leaving the country for a month and I know my partner is bummed about that.

Communication, self-reflection, compassion... I’m so glad things have improved for you, and thanks for responding.

WhirlyByrd in reply to littlenam

It’s easy and natural to get stuck within our selves while we endure the hardest part of healing. But loving your SO is also a way to heal. They may feel helpless.

1GraceVolunteer in reply to WhirlyByrd

I can relate to this so well, WhirlyByrd. I think I got so involved with my own healing, I became more remote from my husband, and he couldn't know what was going on because he wasn't experiencing PTSD.

I have found that telling him what PTSD means for me and why I say and do certain things is very helpful because then he can understand on an intellectual level what I'm going through. He does not know how it feels, but he knows why I do therapy.

Recently, he asked me why I'm still doing therapy, and I had to stop and think. I then realized that I was no longer raging or acting out because of therapy, and that was both surprising and heartening.

So I agree that communication is very, very important because it makes both people part of a team, and that was a foreign concept to me at first because I was used to feeling I had to handle everything myself, but it's so worthwhile and it's part of a good marriage/relationship.

You may also like...