The spouse of a trauma victim can be overlooked as also affected by trauma, whether the trauma victim’s original experiences occurred as a result of childhood trauma or occurred when the person was an adult.
A common example of adult trauma happens with many of our veterans. They may experience trauma during military service then later suffer the residual effect of PTSD. Meaning, when they return home, their experiences result in a different impact on their spouse and family than before they were traumatized.
Many spouses of trauma victims work very hard to help their partners through the symptoms and consequences of trauma.
They may think if they provide the right kind of supportive and safe environment that their partner will find healing. Though this commitment is admirable and necessary, it is not enough.
There is a relational deficit that continues to cause problems, emotional crises and relational struggles. This deficit has ups, downs, twists and turns and can feel like a rollercoaster ride with little hope to change. One hurdle or conflict just leads to another, and without an intervention of some kind, the relationship can be in jeopardy of ending.
For partners who are trying desperately to help and cope, it is important to realize that no matter how hard they work, they most probably will not be able to provide the necessary therapeutic inventions that their partners need to overcome the impact of serious trauma.
The trauma-impacted individual needs therapy from a trained trauma specialist. Additionally, there should be marriage counseling to help both individuals find ways to communicate, problem-solve and create strategies for the process of trauma recovery.
For those couples who find themselves in this deficit loop, please click here on this link. This article from Brickel and Associates, Alexandria, VA, provides good advice. They offer therapy for individuals and couples. I think their perspectives and advice are tremendously helpful.
Please get the help you need.
It is important for partners to engage professional help and support, and most of all to realize they do not have to handle the consequences of trauma alone.
Getting qualified and caring help is actually helping to care for yourselves and each other. It can make a significant difference to how well a couple can adjust to the impact of trauma.
Trauma recovery is a significant task to undertake, and healing is possible over time through a strong, supportive effort from those who understand and have insight into how to deal with trauma in the life of partners.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO