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Scene, Sunday, April 25, 2010

Military spouses have been connecting on the Spouse Calls blog since it began three years ago. During that time, the most active discussions have been about post-traumatic stress disorder.

Most comments are from women seeking answers about a husband’s PTSD. Sometimes they are looking for advice or treatment options, but often these women just want to know they are not alone.

This month, for the first time, a veteran with PTSD posted an entry, revealing how the disorder looks from the inside. His questions were addressed by another blogger. Here is their exchange:

I was reading trying to figure out what I’m doing to my wife of 11 years, who is great.

I think I do all the things (other bloggers describe) except cheat or hit my wife. I have finally went to therapy but I think I am a little late because I have been hurtful. Same stuff: Saying it’s my money; wanting a divorce one day and wanting her the next; not interested in anything, including my kids’ functions.

I can zone out on the TV or computer and not talk to anyone, but if my friends come over, who I was deployed with, I feel comfortable and will become the old me.

I guess I thought (my wife) would care and want to help me, but I think I’ve hurt her so much she doesn’t care anymore and maybe doesn’t understand. She even told me I just want attention. I will try my best but it will bottle up until I explode into a three-year-old.

I don’t know why I do it, but would feel more comfortable if she would have done research or went (to therapy) with me. At least now I know this is something we are all doing. It doesn’t make it right, but I know other people do this.

Sometimes I feel completely alone, and she says I smother her. Then sometimes I … ignore her, and she brings that up. I will do as everyone on here describes and blame her when it is clearly me doing this.

How do I convince her to go, or what programs are out there for us?

I know you don’t have to help, but I need it. I have a 7-year-old and a 4-year-old. I don’t want them to think this is normal. My father was so kind, and I’m doing a terrible job.

— RC

Bless you for asking those questions on this site. I would suggest you encourage your wife to go on this site and read. She’ll read things that may, or may not, explain some of your behavior.

I would also encourage her to go to the website for the National Center for PTSD at www.ptsd.va.gov. (She might also look up the Well Spouse Association, a nonprofit that supports all spouse caregivers, at www.wellspouse.org.)

Perhaps once she realizes others are experiencing the same thing, she’ll find a reason to work to save your marriage. I would give anything to have my husband say the things you’ve said. I’m trying to save our marriage but am not getting a great deal of encouragement from (my husband.)

Finally, contact your nearest VA facility. They have people who will help you. Don’t walk, run to them. Seek the help that you deserve. That will send a huge message to your wife about how sincere you are about making changes. Again, bless you for recognizing your need for help. That’s a huge step in the right direction. Let us know how you and your marriage are doing. I’ve found real support right here from others who understand.

— W

Terri Barnes is a military wife living Germany. Contact her at spousecalls@stripes.com or on the Spouse Calls blog at http://blogs.stripes.com/blogs/spousecalls.

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