Saturday, July 13, 2013

Making your marriage last even with PTSD

Making your marriage last even with PTSD
De-tour Combat PTSD Survivor's Guide
Kathie Costos
July 13, 2013

When I wrote FOR THE LOVE OF JACK HIS WAR MY BATTLE it wasn't about saving marriages of "normal" couples. It was about saving marriages like mine. Being married is hard enough but when you add in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the odds of staying together are pretty slim. We had been together for 20 years by the time it was done so I figured I had a lot to share and more than enough experience to prove that it was not impossible once couples had access to the knowledge I had to learn from clinical books and making plenty of mistakes.

By the time we met, at the age of 23, I was already divorced. My ex-husband tried to kill me. The last thing I wanted was to fall in love again and live with someone else. Jack was getting divorced too. Two failed marriages topped off with what my Dad called "shell shock" back then. While what war did to many war fighters was not new, it was all new to me. I never really paid much attention to my Dad, a Korean War veteran, or to my uncles, all WWII veterans. I didn't plan on paying attention to what he did ten years before we met. Much like his ex-wife, I didn't want to hear him talk about it. That changed when I fell in love and wanted to know about all of it.

In one of the clinical books I read the words Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. All of the signs were in him. Then I wanted to know more about Vietnam. I figured the more I knew the better our chances of staying married were. After all, by then he was my best friend. The signs of PTSD when it was mild weren't that bad but I had no clue from anything I read it could get worse.

It is hard enough being married but when you add in something no other couple you know are going through it, it makes it worse. You get bad advice. You walk away from conversations when friends are talking about tiny issues as if they are ready to get divorced over. In my mind I was thinking "If they only knew what real problems were they would think they were lucky and stop complaining."

We have been married since 1984. The best advice I can give is marry your best friend. If you can love them and know them for what is best within them and still love them when you notice what you don't like, you are half way there. I could be myself with him and we had a pretty strong foundation when we got married. That got us through the hellish days when PTSD was as bad as it could be.

Then once you know who they are, warts and all, you need to know as much as you can about PTSD. Once you understand why they act and react the way they do, you'll know what you can do to not only help them, but help yourself deal with the worst until you arrive at a point when it all becomes normal to you. You not only help them heal, your marriage will be stronger. Our's is. My husband taught me a lot about what love really is because of all the love he has inside and showed me what courage truly is because no matter what he went through, he fought back for our sake.

The New York Times has a great series started on making marriages last. This one is about being married to a Vietnam veteran.

Marrying a Veteran Was Cool. Then It Got Difficult.
New York Times
Published: July 12, 2013

Booming’s “Making It Last” column profiles baby boomer couples who have been together 25 years or more. Send us your story and photos through our submission form.

Lonni and Sue Leroux met in 1972, shortly after he returned from serving in the Vietnam War, and married a year later. Today they live in Mendon, Vt., where Sue worked for Aetna insurance company and Lonni sells real estate and coaches high school football. They have two adult children. A condensed and edited version of our conversation follows.

How did you meet?

Sue: At a party shortly after I graduated from college in Indiana and moved to Middletown, Conn., to work. Lonni was one of the guys who came to drive my roommate and me — not dates, just a ride. But at the party we started having a really nice conversation. When it wrapped up he said, “I really enjoyed meeting you, you seem like a really nice person, but you’re probably a —” and he used a profanity.

Lonni: I wanted a reaction. I wanted to see if she was really as nice as she seemed, and she was nice about that, too.

How did you begin dating?

Lonni: I was still in school at the University of New Haven, so I wasn’t looking for a relationship. But one of my roommates kept telling me she really liked me, and unbeknownst to me, he was telling her I really liked her.

Sue: I did like him. He was so handsome and a little bit older than my friends because he had just gotten out of the service.

Lonni: I went to Vietnam in 1968 and served for four years. But I came back and the first thing I did was get out of my uniform. I didn’t want anyone to know I was in the service. The public wasn’t exactly greeting us at the airport; they weren’t thanking us for anything. They thought we were just killing babies and burning villages. It was a different world.

Sue: I thought it was cool that he was in the service. My mother was an Army brat and my dad was a veteran, so to me being a veteran was cool.
read more here

If you have been married for a long time, submit to the New York Times and share your story with them. These younger families need all the help they can get. If we show them how to survive with PTSD veterans, they have a better chance of making it work in marriages that are in trouble. Give them hope by telling how you did it.

No comments:

Post a Comment