Observation is Action

Kelley, My husband has PTSD and major clinical depression. I’ve been married to him for 15 years. It takes a lot of my energy just to live with him. Living without him would be hard, too, especially financially. What do I do? L

Thank you for your note, L. All signs point to observe. If he is not actively in therapy, it is appropriate for him to be. When I see his life force it is an enormous flame, which indicates to me that he is too active in his higher chakras (in his mind). He is in dire need of mental, emotional, and psychological soothing, and that is not something you can provide. You have tried, to the point of your own detriment. There is a myth in our culture that as life partners, we are and should be obligated to provide every ounce of support to our significant other. The reality is, that kind of fishbowl support burns out more relationships than it sustains. If that has been the case, it has to change. When a loved one is dealing with deep trauma, as he is, the insight and skill of a trained professional are required. No significant other can carry that load; no significant other should have to. For the balance to shift between you, both must see the value in finding an objective third person in whom he can confide, or you have to elect to make the changes in your life that you need for yourself. Sure, in relationships we weather the worst of each other. But we must also relish the best of each other, and that has not sustained your joining for some time. You cannot control him or direct him in self care. All you can do is make the suggestions. If he is already in therapy and not making progress, perhaps it’s time for a switch, or for you to start making plans independently of him. There are many styles of therapy, many approaches. It is time for him to do something, or to do something different; again, forcing him will do no good.

It’s also imperative for you to decide your reasons for staying in this relationship. If compassionate coexistence can no longer be honored by you, you are doing neither of you favors by staying together. If you are genuinely vested in staying, changes will be required on your part, as well. While his conditions have created friction in the relationship, the dynamic that has developed has been a joint endeavor. Be very honest with yourself about what you want from this relationship, and clearly discern if you are already finished. Sometimes it’s amazing what progress can be made from merely gathering more info.

Be well, L!