how PTSD and mental illness can damage a relationship marriage

Accepting How PTSD Can Cripple a Relationship

I used to be a very private person. I used to hide it all away. I didn’t know what else to do when things weren’t quite right, when things weren’t working. I truly believed that keeping it all inside was a sign of strength. I was strong. I could keep it quiet and not let it affect me.

But I was wrong. It didn’t stay quiet. And it was affecting me. I can see that now, but at the time I was too caught up in my own fictitious strength. I was oblivious.

No one could open my eyes for me. I had to learn the hard way. I had to eventually acknowledge the lessons that were coming my way. And in time I chose to listen.

I’m no longer a private person. I no longer believe that holding it all in is a sign of strength. I now try my best to let people know when I’m hurting. I now try to accept when things aren’t working. I now make an effort to recognise that I need help at times. I no longer claim to be able to do it all. Or know it all.

I’m no longer too proud to admit that the journey with my husband’s PTSD has damaged me along the way. And I’m not too proud to tell you that, without reaching out for professional help, I know I wouldn’t have managed to this point.

I’m no longer too proud to admit that the ongoing strain of PTSD has crippled our marriage. And I’m not too proud to tell you that, as a couple, we are now choosing professional support to help us learn how to heal and repair.

We are both committed to our relationship, mostly out of stubbornness and loyalty, but it’s clear that the hurt still runs deep. Trust has lost its footing. For too long now, I’ve been building my walls up too high. And much too strong. For years I’ve been reinforcing them, adding layer after layer, in a desperate attempt to protect myself. Whilst all around, our marriage crumbles.

For a chance to heal, I have no choice but let the walls come down. To repair what’s inside, the walls first need to be knocked down. And I am petrified. The woman behind those walls feels nothing but weak, and brittle, and vulnerable. Because inside that woman, there is a scared little girl who is trying hard not to cry.

But I am a wife. I owe it to my husband and my marriage to do all I can to bring down the walls.

I am a mother. I owe it to my children to find my true strength without the barricades.

And I am a woman. I owe it to myself to start living the life that I have always truly wanted.



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:


    • Tracy, it’s one thing to know what to do, and it’s a whole other thing to know how to do it. How do you go about the “unbuilding” process?

  1. This is sounds so familiar! Except I haven’t gotten to the step of actually being able to speak to anyone 🙁 I’m so scared they’ll judge me, ask why I stay or not understand. I love my husband so much and want our relationship to work as we both deserve it, our relationship was unbreakable before ptsd destroyed who my husband once was. I hope for our sons we can get through this together.

    • Taking that first step to talking to someone is very tough, but often ends up being the best thing you can do. The right person will not judge or demand answers from you. The right person will understand. Your heart is in the right place, and you owe it to yourself to achieve the best possible outcome. With a strong background, your relationship can once again find that place.

  2. Your strength comes through in your very poignant words….you got this! ….and your children and husband are blessed to have you as their warrior. Remember to keep taking care of yourself – because you can’t fight for others if you are lost.

    • Thank you for your kind words. I am so much more aware of taking care of myself these days, and my writing is part of that process.

  3. I think you can only try to keep talking to try to understand one another’s perspective Lea – and there are no guarantee’s. My first husband and I tried, and failed as we were unable to get over the wounds we’d inflicted on one another in unintentional neglect of our relationship. We subsequently recovered respect for one another after we separated though and managed to become friends again. Recovering that respect was key…

    • I’m so sorry, Tracy, that it didn’t work out with your husband. It’s natural to hold on to the hope that the damage can be repaired, but I guess sometimes it just runs too deep. But you’re right, recovering the respect is vital to maintain the friendship.

  4. Be nice if this were the reality. In our reality, he just uses therapy and counseling as a means to make me the enemy. I’m at fault for everything. I never clean. When I do clean, I do it wrong. When I do it wrong, he has to fix it. When he has to fix it, he’s wasting his precious time when I should have done it right. Other people can put holes in our home and come at him with a knife and he instantly forgives, but if I don’t do the trash on his schedule I’m going to hear about it for 6 months. He convinced his useless PTSD therapist that I was “Borderline Personality Disorder,” so this therapist started feeding him materials on how to “deal with” me, despite having never met me and not even being a family counselor. When you combine PTSD with controlling manipulation, entitlement, and an inability to control anger, you don’t have a marriage.

    You also don’t “owe” it to your spouse to be abused by them just because they have a diagnosis to hide behind. My husband neglects me until I’m angry, then tries to use my anger as justification for blaming me for his personal problems. I’m not allowed to have emotions, or else he starts diagnosing me with more mental illnesses I don’t have and there’s plenty of screaming if I don’t let him do it like an obedient, silent, mindless wife. I’ve been using Grey Rock and its the most effective tool I’ve tried, because it doesn’t give him ammunition to use against me. This romanticized gibberish about being loyal to the end keeps people from leaving abusive situations. When you’ve lost track of how many times you’ve thought to yourself “Is this the moment he hits me?”, you do not owe them ANYTHING. You are allowed to leave.

    • Thank you for your honest and very open comment. I used to think it would be so simple to judge when a relationship has become damaging and abusive, but it’s anything but simple. I completely agree with you that we do not owe it to our spouses, and I have always maintained that PTSD is not an excuse for bad behaviour. I’m not sure where your relationship is right now, but I hope you have access to your own professional support, should you need it. Take care.

Leave a Reply