The power of using words to process our pain and can be therapeutic for those experiencing post-traumatic stress. Holocaust survivors who did not talk about their experience found themselves suffering more than those that were able to verbalize what they went through. This point resonated with me strongly as I have witnessed the therapeutic benefit of sharing pain. Here is how to help a spouse with PTSD in marriage.
More inspiration on helping someone with PTSD feel “safe”:
- The man that started it all. Harville Hendrix and the gift of Imago Therapy.
- More than just a communication technique, Imago therapy is deeply healing
- How to transform your anger with your spouse and turn it into compassion
Holding in Our Feelings
When a new couple comes in who is in crisis, they often experience great relief after one session because they were able to express their true feelings and their pain, often for the very first time. Many of us may be suffering in our relationships but we may be holding in our feelings, walking around with resentment, and focusing our energy everywhere but our spouse.
I am reminded of the wife who was scared that her husband would never be successful. Instead of articulating her feelings, she took action and immersed herself in work for three years to the point of obsession for success, disconnecting herself from her husband and family.
Of course, in order for us to be able to express the fear and pain we may be feeling, we need to feel safe enough to discuss these feelings. As we have mentioned before, the structure of the Imago Dialogue helps create the safety needed to verbalize our innermost pain in a non-threatening way that allows the listener to have compassion for our story.
Once we can articulate how we feel, we blow away all of the assumptions either one of us may have had about each other.
We also mitigate the resentment that came out sideways in the forms of jabs or putdowns. After everything is on the table we can move forward.
I believe that we are all suffering from some form of post-traumatic stress. (Whether or not we can technically be diagnosed with PTSD is irrelevant for our purposes.) This trauma could be from childhood, from previous relationships, from witnessing or even reading in detail the graphic accounts of 9/11 or other tragedies. Until we can articulate the pain we are experiencing, we will be operating in survival mode. Living a life of reactivity, of flight/fight, will only bring about more discord in our relationships and within ourselves. If you are in a relationship where you are afraid to share your feelings with your spouse, know that it is so much more pleasurable to be in a relationship where you can share without being worried about the other’s reaction.
If you can’t get past ptsd in your marriage, it’s time to work with a professional. Our 2 Day Marriage Restoration Retreat is the fastest way to put your spouse at ease so that you can begin working on your marriage to save it, Fast! Contact us today about the marriage intensive option that we offer.
There’s nothing quite like the power of gaining clarity on a confusing situation. Complete the form below to talk with Rabbi Slatkin to see what he thinks would be best for you and your unique situation.