Those who have gone through a traumatic event can often develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The cause of PTSD varies greatly. It appears different in each person and can be the result of varying factors such as a traffic accident, encountering a life threatening or emotional event, experiencing the loss of a loved one, and so on.
It may be hard to detect that your spouse is hurting. Physically they may seem okay, but something is troubled under the waters and deep within them. Often, people who suffer from PTSD don’t know how to connect words with their experience. They feel the pain and emotion lingering, but don’t know how to express this after the fact.
When you suspect your spouse is suffering, how can you support them? Today, we want to share ways you can help your spouse get through this difficult time.
Give Your Spouse Time
It’s natural for spouses to put pressure on each other to heal. It’s important to understand that someone who has PTSD will take time to heal – and this time can sometimes seem infinite. Stay patient.
Avoid telling your spouse to snap out of it, and don’t put a time frame on them or set expectations. For example, saying: ”it’s been three months, why are you still carrying this around?” can be more damaging to your spouse’s healing process than you think. Each person heals differently and in their own time.
Respect their space and the time it takes for your spouse to decompress from the event. Unless you are going through this with professional guidance from someone who is very objective on your relationship, take your own foot off the gas pedal and don’t pressure your spouse to talk when they are not ready.
Be Present When Your Spouse Needs You
You may not have the words to heal your spouse, but they will certainly feel your loving presence and support. Encourage your spouse to seek help they need. Be sure to stand behind them and offer your support each step of the way.
Sometimes the ministry of presence alone is the most profound thing after a trauma. Even if you have no words, simply being there can mean so much.
Encourage Your Spouse to Get Help
Talking to a professional counselor or therapist is the most effective way to walk through the emotional aftermath of a tragedy. Encourage your spouse to seek outside and objective help, and offer to tread through this with them.
Joining support groups who have experienced similar experiences can also be effective. Connecting with those who have walked in your shoes can be beneficial – encourage your spouse to seek out groups they can connect with. Releasing and sharing your thoughts and pain in multiple ways can be therapeutic, so journaling feelings is helpful as well.
What to do If You feel Lonely
It is a loss to have someone you love suffer from PTSD. Make sure you keep your web of connection with your friends, family and supporters strong during this time. It’s a powerful feeling to have support, prayers and care from those who love you. So in turn, you can stay strong to support your spouse.
Don’t hesitate to let you spouse know that you miss them. Let them know that you don’t want them to feel rushed, but that you miss them and are eager for the energy of your relationship to return. Emphasizing that you are there for them and will be patient is important, but so is expressing that you are feeling sad and lonely as well.
The effects of experiencing a traumatic event can look different in each person. It’s vitally important to the healing process to give your spouse time to heal, support them in every way possible, and encourage professional help. And equally as important, be sure to take care of yourself during this time as well and acknowledge your own feelings.
Have you or your spouse experienced a traumatic event? What helped you during the healing process? We’d love to hear from you!