How to Love Your Military Spouse – Part One

As I stated in my post ‘How to Love Your Veteran – Intro’ I don’t want to focus only on the spouse without PTSD in the relationship because it quite frankly isn’t all on them. Like all relationships, effort is a two way street. To help me with this series I’ve recruited my husband, a Marine veteran with PTSD. I asked him to especially help me with the spouse with PTSD side of the table because, well, he’s the one sitting on it. So here are the unsparing words of wisdom from a combat veteran himself boys…

 

SAY YES TO COUNSELING…

First and foremost, get counseling. There is no shame in seeking out help from a professional. You yourself are a professional ass-kicker. A head shrink can’t do your job, so don’t try and do theirs. You know your head better than anyone else so be honest and wholly explain to them what’s going on in your hatrack and they will teach you how to get things under control. No one can promise it will be an easy process, but I promise it will be a worthwhile one.

 

EMBRACE THE FUNK…

You have to remember that civilians are ignorant. That’s not saying they are stupid, just simply that they did not go through the hell we did so they just flat out don’t stinking get it! They don’t understand why we have to sit facing the main entrance at a resturant, or why we’re constantly “looking around” instead of “listening” (which by the way..WE ARE LISTENING!). They don’t understand that we just need to make sure everyone and the situation are safe. We’re not checkin out other chicks or tuning our significant other out. We feel sorry for making them feel that way but if they had gone through what we did, they’d be doing the same thing. With that being said you cannot EXPECT civilians to understand, and getting frustrated about it will get you nowhere. The sooner you accept that fact the sooner you can move on with it. So Ass Kickers carry on. Do your thing. If it brings you even a little peace-of-mind while enjoying a dinner date with the wifey, then face the door.

 

COMMUNICATE!

Communicate, communicate, COMMUNICATE! Tell your spouse what’s going on in your brain housing group. Again, they wont fully understand, but it’s a start. They can’t be supportive and good for you if they don’t know what’s going on. They do understand that things are not right with you now, that you are somehow different, but YOU have to make the first step forward. Don’t wait for your civilian counterpart. It is truly on you to be the leader first. Take charge of your mind, body, and family. Don’t be an asshole, but be an understanding leader that realizes they (your family) cannot understand anything unless we tell them what’s going on with us.

 

You can find an ever growing list of communication tips HERE!

You can also find tips for spouses of PTSD on the sister post ‘How to Love Your Veteran – Part One’!

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How to Love Your Veteran – Part One

These first three are a few of the most important things to remember when loving your spouse with PTSD…

 

KNOW WHO THE BAD GUY IS…

A common problem between spouses in these situations is something so simple to fix, yet so many veteran marriages end in hate and divorce in large part for this reason. Blame. Blame is not a bad thing if you keep it focused on the right target, unfortunately so often couples begin to resent and blame each other for the struggles in their relationship. It can be difficult not to want to blame your spouse for what’s happened. Especially if your spouse says or does hurtful things out of anger or frustration, but you’ve got to remember they are struggling with something much more difficult than your average person. If you want to help and love your spouse you’ve got to remember who the bad guy is. It’s NOT your veteran. The good thing is it’s not hard to pick a better bad guy to blame…you can blame everything from the disorder itself, to the war, to the government who declared war. But don’t take it out on your husband, remember they didn’t ask for this, and they don’t want this any more than you do.

 

COMM-UN-I-CATE…

I’m no relationship expert but if I were asked what the most important thing in ANY relationship is I would yell COMMUNICATION COMMUNICATION COMMUNICATION. It’s no differen’t here. If you or your spouse are not good communicators by nature then I’d advise pouring all your heart and soul into learning to be. Bad/Lack of communication is one of the top causes of broken relationships. It’s even more vital in a relationship involving PTSD, it can also be a lot harder. One of the most common struggles is that your veteran is not very open to communicate with you (or anyone). Either about his struggles and emotions or even just about anything when he’s dealing with issues in his head. As a supportive spouse you need to always stay hopeful and patient about this. The more you learn to support him better the more he’s going to trust and feel comfortable opening up to you. It can take a lot of time and patience but if you’re not already you may end up being the one person he can trust and open up to the most; it’s not always an easy job but it’s an important and humbling one. Communication covers such a mass variety of things I decided to write a post focusing on it specifically, you can read it here.

 

STAY POSITIVE…

Scientific studies have proven that if you force yourself to smile over and over when you’re sad or unhappy your brain will actually release the chemicals that make us happy, thus eventually turning that fake smile into a real one. It is amazing what kind of power our minds have over our bodies if we would just use it. No, no one can be 100% positive and bubbly all the time, but keep your mind set in the belief that the glass is always half full and you will be pleasantly surprised by the change in your life and those around you. It took me a long time to learn this lesson but I believe that happiness is a choice. A choice to stay positive and face life with our heads held high even through the worst of times. If you’ve ever heard the term ‘smiles are contagious’ then you also know happiness and positivity are contagious as well. By the same nature negative energy can bring everyone around you down. Your veteran is going to have a harder time sometimes being positive and happy, the negative energy from his struggle can in turn make it harder for you to stay positive and happy. But if you stay strong I promise your relentless positivety WILL carry over into his life and you will in turn BOTH be more relaxed, happier, and healthier.

 

You can now read the other end of the spectrum on my new post ‘How to Love Your Military Spouse – Part One’!

 

 

 

 

DAILY PROMPT: You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch – Catch .22

The quality in others that bugs me the most has to be ignorance and lack of care for others. On a more biased note it REALLY bugs me when people do not even attempt to understand, tolerate, and/or genuinely care about veterans, military, and their families. Being that I am surrounded by the military culture everyday these peoples have not only become my family (quite literally) but have also become my passion. So it is only natural that I be a bit biased towards everything pertaining to them. Ironically one of my least favorite characteristics in people may also be one of the least desirable characteristics in myself. While I try my best (but can always do better) to be understanding and caring of others I too am not always great at this. There are many things I am ignorant about myself. I have actually thought quite a bit about this contradiction and how to solve it in myself as it both frustrates and confounds me. 

It can be really difficult, especially if you’re an over thinker like me, to both be passionate about something and unbiased about it at the same time. In fact, I’d venture to say that it’s basically impossible. One can surely work to understand and listen to opposing sides of something, but by human nature we are biased. Period. It’s also pretty impossible as humans to know and care deeply about any and every cause out there. We can support all the causes we find “good”..cancer, veterans, abused children, AIDS awareness, ext….however being active and genuinely passionate (in the word’s deepest form of meaning) of so many things is simply impossible. And what I’ve learned over time is that is OK. In fact, this kind of biased can be a GOOD thing.

If we were all passionate about everything we thought worthy of our passion then we would never get anything done (as funny as that sounds). It’s the same idea that if EVERYONE was an amazing football player, then essentially NO ONE would be a great football player because we would all be equal. Or the fact (yes I said it, FACT) that not EVERYONE can be a winner, otherwise NO ONE would win. 

We are all good at certain things because if we were all good at the same thing we would never accomplish anything. Society and life requires that we all be better at different things. We all have our unique gifts and likewise we all have our unique passions. If everyone was passionate about fighting cancer, then who would be left to stand up for abused children? If we were all passionate about teaching, then who would there be to invent advancing technology?

In realizing this I have also formed the opinion that I believe counseling would be so much more productive and helpful if we didn’t have just “general psychologist/counselors/ext” but if each psychologist/counselor worked specifically with the issues they were most passionate about. Of course a theory like this requires a perfect world where we would never be short of counselors for every kind of issue/peoples. But hear me out. If I am most passionate about military, veterans, and other service workers such as police and firefighters then I am naturally going to be much better at helping them and listening to them than I would be at listening to someone, who say, suffers from multiple personality disorder. However someone who is very passionate about families and children and keeping them together are going to be much better at marriage, family, and child counseling. 

This is not to say that I don’t care deeply about all kinds of people and issues, but we all have specific passions. And even as someone whose passion is to help people through counseling, generally speaking they will also have a more specific passion for certain types of issues. I think by focusing on our passions this would not only make for better counseling and help, but also less burnout for counselors and psychologists/psychiatrists.

So I guess to get back to the point of this whole rant. While we all have our pet peeves and dislikes, we are all just as guilty of distasteful characteristics to others. However I think that, like our differences in passions, our differences in personality go hand in hand. We are all different, and we cannot expect to like everyone around us, but through our differences comes the success and beauty of mankind.

Excuse or Reason? PTSD and physical abuse – Daily Prompt – Perspective

A couple days ago while my ridiculously overactive brain was wondering mercilessly at work an issue came to mind about military men/women and  physical abuse at home. The question in my head formed and I decided I really wanted my husband’s, a combat veteran and Marine, point of view so I asked..

“Obviously someone just being a straight up physically abusive spouse is NEVER ok. But what do you think of people who are just straight up abusers outside (or inside without combat experience) the military vs. someone with PTSD that blacks out or has a flashback and hits their spouse vs. someone with PTSD who does NOT black out but is dealing with PTSD and gets pushed too far, angry, and loses their cool and suddenly hits their spouse?”

Now I realize that’s a LOADED question and  mouthful. Through our discussion I also wondered and asked, “How does one (say a therapist) deacifer the difference between a man with PTSD/TBI having anger issues resulting in any form of abuse as someone who is not that kind of person and never would have been otherwise vs. someone who would have been an abuser with or without PTSD but PTSD May have just triggered it to start?”

I know the second question is a little confusing and I apologize. Im not going to write about how I feel on this issue or what my husband’s opinions were in this post because I’m still doing some more research and thinking of how I want to address that issue; however, I know you must be wondering how this pertains to the daily post prompt.

Firstly just being on the subject of perspective ones perspective on this issue will of course greatly vary based on whether or not the person has direct experience with abuse, no experience with military or ptsd, or does in fact have experience with the military and/or ptsd and veterans.

Secondly my perspective on physical abuse is in line with most of our opinions. While I think the abuser could certainly use help and counseling, I in no way shape or form excuse physical abuse and I hate it. However, when it comes to men and women suffering from PTSD/TBI and certain cases of reintegration back into society after war my perspective is a whole lot different because of someone I love and cherish. My husband.

Feel free to stay tuned for my future post discussing this issue..Also feel free to leave any insights pertaining to these questions or perspectives, I realize this is dipping into a very sensitive subject and I hope no one who has been or is linked to a victim of abuse feels I do not support you in any way shape or form or that I am trying to belittle your experiences. That is in no way my goal with this post nor my opinion.