How to Support a Spouse With PTSD

How You Can Support Your Spouse Suffering From PTSD

We live in a day and age where, unfortunately, PTSD is fairly common. In fact, according to CFAH, 6% or 3 in every 50 American adults will have gone through PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder at some point in their lives.”

Marriage is hard enough, but adding mental illnesses or PTSD to your marriage can cause more hardship if you don’t know how to effectively support your spouse. We’ve created this resource to help you navigate your spouse’s PTSD diagnosis and/or PTSD symptoms, as well as offer helpful tips for you as you strive to love and support your sweetheart.

If your spouse is suffering from PTSD, they may feel alone. Check out our tips for loving and supporting them. | The Dating Divas
A spouse suffering from PTSD may feel alone.


This post may be a little heavy for some, so please proceed with caution. We are not licensed professionals, so we cannot help diagnose or treat PTSD. We have gathered these resources that we have thoroughly researched, and we strive to provide helpful information from these trusted sources.

Table of Contents
  1. How You Can Support Your Spouse Suffering From PTSD
  2. What Is PTSD?
  3. How to Love and Support Your Spouse Who Is Experiencing PTSD
  4. In Conclusion

What Is PTSD?

Before we get started, you may be wondering, “What is PTSD?”

You aren’t alone! Many people aren’t sure of the actual definition of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and may confuse it with other mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder or even ADHD.

The Mayo Clinic defines Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as:

“Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event—either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.”

Did you know that there are four categories of PTSD?

In order to receive a PTSD diagnosis from a professional, one should be experiencing one or more of the four PTSD symptoms/categories.

An article from the American Psychiatric Association lists these four categories as:

  1. “Intrusion: Intrusive thoughts such as repeated, involuntary memories; distressing dreams; or flashbacks of the traumatic event. Flashbacks may be so vivid that people feel they are reliving the traumatic experience or seeing it before their eyes.
  2. Avoidance: Avoiding reminders of the traumatic event may include avoiding people, places, activities, objects, and situations that may trigger distressing memories. People may try to avoid remembering or thinking about the traumatic event. They may resist talking about what happened or how they feel about it.
  3. Alterations in cognition and mood: Inability to remember important aspects of the traumatic event, negative thoughts and feelings leading to ongoing and distorted beliefs about oneself or others (e.g., “I am bad,” “No one can be trusted”); distorted thoughts about the cause or consequences of the event leading to wrongly blaming self or other; ongoing fear, horror, anger, guilt or shame; much less interest in activities previously enjoyed; feeling detached or estranged from others; or being unable to experience positive emotions (a void of happiness or satisfaction).
  4. Alterations in arousal and reactivity: Arousal and reactive symptoms may include being irritable and having angry outbursts; behaving recklessly or in a self-destructive way; being overly watchful of one’s surroundings in a suspecting way; being easily startled; or having problems concentrating or sleeping.”

We highly recommend reading the full article, as it contains treatment options and resources for those who wish to reach out for support.

PTSD does not need to overwhelm your marriage nor have a negative impact on you and your spouse's relationship. | The Dating Divas
PTSD may feel overwhelming, especially in your marriage.

How to Love and Support Your Spouse Who Is Experiencing PTSD

If you’re wondering how to help your spouse cope with their PTSD, there are several resources out there that can be really helpful on your journey! However, it can be a little daunting or even overwhelming to try to figure out where to start. Simply put, it’s always best to start with the basics and arm yourself with as much information as you can.

First, if your spouse is experiencing severe symptoms of PTSD, it’s best to advise them to see a doctor.

Second, it’s important to remember that you may not ever be able to completely understand your spouse’s thoughts, feelings, and overall point of view, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help them navigate their diagnosis.

A reader of ours, whose husband suffers from PTSD, said, “My husband told me that his traumatic experience forced him to bond emotionally with the person who was with him at the time [who experienced the same trauma], and that is a form of ’emotional intimacy’ between the two that I will never be able to fully understand. That’s the hardest part. It’s a trauma bond, and that’s a form of ‘intimacy’ that I’ll never experience with him.”

If you are feeling the same way, then please don’t let this discourage you. That’s the great thing about marriage: you and your spouse share a form of emotional intimacy that others will never be able to experience with either of you. While you probably don’t have the ability to empathize with them about their experience, use the trust, love, and unconditional support the two of you have built together to help your spouse cope.

The good news is that you and your spouse can get through PTSD together as a team. | The Dating Divas
You and your spouse can get through PTSD together.

There are several things you can do to offer support to your partner:

  • Understand what PTSD is and what it is not. Most importantly, remember this: everyone’s experience will be different, and you can’t automatically group your spouse in with other people who have PTSD.
  • Suggest that your spouse seek an official diagnosis. This will not only help you figure out how to navigate the future, but it may give your spouse a sense of peace knowing what exactly is going on with them. Diva Catharine said, “Once I had a name and a reason for what I was feeling and experiencing, everything started coming together. I was able to research on my own time, talk to doctors, and make myself and my mental care more of a priority. My husband was also relieved and began reading up on how to help me through this challenge. I had an explanation—I wasn’t just being an irrational or (at times) an overly anxious person. It felt good to know that although I was broken, it was something that could be fixed.”
  • Tell your spouse you are willing to listen to them but don’t push them to talk. It may take time for your spouse to feel comfortable sharing their experience or their thoughts and feelings surrounding it. When they are ready to talk, pay attention to how your spouse is feeling during the conversation. If you feel that the conversation is becoming too heavy, suggest taking a break and coming back to it later.
  • Listen to understand, not to respond. Don’t make your own assumptions, and don’t judge. It’s absolutely okay to ask questions but do so in a way that helps you see your spouse’s point of view clearly, not just to respond to what they are saying.
  • Study and anticipate triggers together. When you can work together on combating triggers, not only do you become closer in a whole new way (you’ll feel a bond and sense of trust like never before!), but it also allows you to show respect and understanding to your spouse during this difficult time.
  • Encourage your spouse to take time for themselves. This can include hobbies, going to bed early, reading a book, getting out in nature, nearly anything and everything! Allowing your spouse “me time” is SO important, especially when they are struggling mentally. This will help them disconnect from the distractions and worries of the world.

One of the most important steps to healing a mental wound is allowing yourself the grace to do so, no matter how long it takes. It’s important for you to give your spouse that same grace.

Allow your spouse to lean on you while they figure out how to cope with their PTSD. | The Dating Divas
It’s important to allow your spouse to lean on you while they’re experiencing PTSD.

In Conclusion

The good news is that there is always hope. PTSD does not need to define your spouse’s life or your marriage. And here is just another friendly reminder that there is no shame in seeking help, whether it’s individually or as a couple.

Just like with everything else in life, there will be good days and bad days. This is normal, and you and your spouse’s combined experience navigating PTSD will be a direct result of the effort you both put into it.

We wish you the best of luck in the days ahead. Sending a big {virtual} hug to you all!

Pin this post to save for later

Pin It


I am an avid DIY'er, a Disney lover, and an amateur foodie! Chips & salsa, chocolate, and Diet Dr. Pepper are a few of my favorite things. I'm married to my best friend who is literally my Prince Charming, and I'm a mommy to three darling kiddos! You'll often find me in the kitchen baking something chocolatey, or snuggled up on the couch listening to a good book or true crime podcast.

Learn more about Macey
Free 7-day Program

One week to a better marriage.

Sign up now and get our 7 Days of Love Program absolutely free!

Husbands or Wives
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

You Might Also Like

diamond iconWe love your comments

We LOVE hearing from our readers! Thanks for leaving us some love!