reasons to stay in a difficult marriage with mental illness PTSD

The Three Reasons Why I Choose to Stay Alongside PTSD

There are three reasons why I stay.

And by stay, I mean in this family, in this marriage. Because, let’s face it, even though we know the grass is never greener on the other side, when your grass starts growing serious prickles then maybe any colour grass might be better.

So, to be completely honest, yes, I have thought about the idea. I could even go so far as to say I have, at times, even fantasised about the idea. The idea of leaving.

That’s hard to write, actually.

It’s even harder to say.

But I’ve never put a plan into action. Not even close. There was a stretch of almost a year when I couldn’t bring myself to wear my engagement and wedding rings. It made me feel like a phoney. Like I was accepting all the bad behaviour in my world. Like I was committed to living in that way. Like I was married to PTSD.

I am married to PTSD. And yes, it is my choice to stay. But it’s not an easy choice to make.

Abuse comes in many forms, and although there’s a lot of focus on physical domestic violence – and rightly too – there’s certainly plenty of other ways to be hurt that won’t leave a mark. Hell, don’t we already know that all too well…. hello PTSD.

If you know a friend who is in the trap of domestic abuse, you would support her in any way to escape the situation. Anyone would. And it would be the right thing to do. No one should stay in such a toxic environment, and neither should their children.

But if you know a friend who is supporting a partner suffering with severe mental illness, a partner who is often resistant to treatment, and, as a consequence, her daily life often involves submitting to unsolicited anger rages, problematic drinking, aggressive arguments, and other intimidating behaviour, what would you say? If she decides to leave – for her sake, and for the sake of her children – would you tell her that she’s done the right thing? Or do you privately label her as a selfish, callous bitch for walking out on her partner in his time of need?

It’s not quite so black and white after all, is it?

I’m committed to my marriage. Committed in the most stubborn way. And although my marriage vows are, without doubt, part of my reason to stay and support my husband in any way I can, they are not the main reason.

My three main reasons for staying, and fighting with such blind determination to keep this family together, despite the ravages of PTSD, are complex and obsessive.

Yet, at the same time, they couldn’t be more simple….


my 3 reasons for staying


These are my three children.

And they are the reasons why I stay.

They deserve the loving family they were born into. They deserve committed and devoted parents. Parents who put them first, always. They deserve a safe home at all times, and the complete freedom to be happy, rowdy, inquisitive children.

I have been fighting for five years. And I’ll fight for many more if I have to.



If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it through your favourite social channel below.

PS. I’d love to meet you on Facebook: here.
And for more inspirational and honest tales of living alongside PTSD, delivered by email each week, be sure to join The PTSD Collective mailing list here:


  1. Hopefully there will be a light at the end of the tunnel for your family. Treatment and the acceptance of it is a big thing. Hopefully your husbands treatment team include you in the process. You ts extremely important that this happens.

    • Thank you Bernie, and yes, I try to be a big part of my husband’s treatment team. Sometimes that means a very proactive role, and sometimes that means just sitting on the sidelines with the kids and waiting.

  2. Hi Lea, thanks so much for leaving yourself vulnerable in sharing your stories with us. As a husband, father and mental health professional I too share your sentiments why I choose to stay in my marriage despite the daily challenges of supporting my wife through a very difficult period in her life. I have discovered through this journey that change is inevitable whether one engages with it or not. Whilst the recovery process belongs to my wife, I have chosen to embrace this change for what it is, accept it and engage with it in a meaningful way. Life has been asking me some very difficult questions. I can’t say that I have always wanted to answer then or that I have answered them at all. However, as my journey continues with no great certainty about the outcome, my hope is that one day, our children will reflect upon this time in their life’s, when they are experiencing challenges of their own, and remember the courage and commitment that is required when life will inevitability be asking them some very difficult questions. Thanks so much for sharing your life with us and I hope that this journey will continue to be a meaningful one to you all.

    • Travis, thank you for your heartfelt comment, it definitely strikes a chord with me. I think it’s really only been this year that I’ve finally been able to listen to and answer some of life’s difficult questions, but I can see that it’s helping me find our new path forward. I wish you much strength on your own journey. Take care.

Leave a Reply