Adversities and challenges can arise in almost any intimate relationship. When the couple is young and coping with the effects of PTSD due to recent military deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan, then the challenges can become even harder, especially because PTSD is more likely to be prevalent in service members returning home from current military deployments (Marx, 2009). Research on this specific population is essential because being able to understand and help these military service members and their significant others during a time when emotional support is critical will allow for these couples to move forward and establish healthy relationships despite the effects of PTSD.
With the knowledge that is gained from this literature, an understanding into the lives of young, military couples coping with PTSD is sought to be understood. Specifically, literature about the effects of PTSD on relational functioning, treatment of PTSD through couples therapy, and level of knowledge of PTSD known by significant others is important as it seeks to conceptualize how these military couples are able to cope.
If the symptoms are not known, then how can a partner determine whether or not their boyfriend/ girlfriend is suffering from PTSD? In many instances, physical symptoms such as nightmares and disrupted sleep patterns were observed and thought of to be the most common potential PTSD symptom. Other symptoms like patterns of behavior or changes to daily routines were also observed (Buchanan, et. al., 2011). Information that is acquired with regards to this disorder is usually obtained through word of mouth, maybe by friends, family members, or other active duty military couples, or through media outlets.
According to Erbes et. al. (2008), “Avoidance behaviors, such as distancing from others, emotional numbing, or being excessively involved in productive (e.g., work) or nonproductive (e.g., video games) activities to cope with trauma- related symptoms, are thought to be particularly harmful to relationship functioning” (pg. 975). While couples are getting to know each other again, they must reestablish a pattern of communication and readjust to being together (Erbes, Polusny, MacDermid, & Compton, 2008).
Khaylis, Polusny, Erbes, Gewirtz, & Rath (2011) administered self- reports to 100 National Guard soldiers who had been previously deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan and they found that these service members felt as though family- based or couples therapy was needed in regards to treatment of PTSD. Distress due to the effects of PTSD on the relationship is experienced by both the veteran and their partner (Sherman, Zanotti, & Jones, 2005) and avoidance seems to play a huge role in relationship problems (Erbes, 2008).
Coping with PTSD after OEF/OIF:Perspectives of Young MilitaryCouplesArgosy UniversityRoneé SimmonsPSY 492
Introduction As many combat veterans return from war in Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom) or Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom), they may suffer from the events and trauma that they have seen and experienced while in combat. Furthermore, they may develop PTSD due to the severity of their trauma and experiences. The effects of these soldier’s PTSD may have some form of impact on their significant others and on their relationship. Therefore, research about the affects of PTSD on military couples is needed.
Literature Review• How do young military couples cope with the effects of PTSD on their relationship after returning home from OEF/OIF?• The literature that has been researched on this topic only looks at certain aspects of military couples, more specifically it looks at the perspective of the military wife (Dekel, Goldblatt, Keidar, Solomon, & Polliack, 2005).
Literature Review- cont.• Educating Military Couples about PTSD ▫ In a qualitative study that was conducted on the awareness of PTSD in veterans, female spouses and intimate partners of OEF/OIF veterans “had very little knowledge about the symptoms of PTSD” (Buchanan, Kemppainen, Smith, MacKain, & Cox, 2011, pg. 749). ▫ Some type of formal education system should be put into place so that young military couples can be educated about PTSD before, during, and after periods of deployment. ▫ Young couples need to be able to understand what PTSD is and learn how to cope with the effects of PTSD on their relationship.
Literature Review- cont.• Relational Functioning of Military Couples upon Returning Home ▫ Upon returning home, couples must rebuild their relationship due to the fact that they have both changed during the deployment, however, PTSD can make it hard to reconnect with a significant other. ▫ When emotional involvement or intimacy starts lacking, then couples may become less satisfied and it may negatively affect the relationship. ▫ Roles in the relationship may be adversely affected due to PTSD.
Literature Review- cont.• Couples Therapy for PTSD ▫ Couples therapy treatment would be very beneficial to relational functioning. ▫ Couples will be able to learn strategies and techniques that will allow them to better their relationship. ▫ Findings suggest that if a partner is involved in the veteran’s treatment process, then this can help improve the patient outcome of their PTSD symptoms (Sautter, Lyons, Manguno-Mire, Perry, Han, Sherman, Myers, Landis, & Sullivan, 2006).
ConclusionAfter reviewing all of these articles, there is foundto be correlations among the studies. Couplestherapy with a focus on behavior seems to beconducive to helping couples cope with PTSD. Also,when the female partner shows support for herspouse/ significant other and is loyal to them throughout their battle with PTSD, then the veteran is likely torecover from their symptoms. Lastly, when avoidancesymptoms are dealt with related to PTSD, a new foundhope is possible for the military couple’s relationship.
References• Buchanan, C., Kemppainen, J., Smith, S., MacKain, S., & Cox, C. W.,N.C.U.S.N.(R.C.). (2011). Awareness of posttraumatic stress disorder in veterans: A female Spouse/Intimate partner perspective. Military Medicine,176(7), 743-743-751. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/876042789?accountid=348 99• Dekel, R., Goldblatt, H., Keidar, M., Solomon, Z., & Polliack, M. (2005). Being a wife of a veteran with posttraumatic stress disorder*. Family Relations, 54(1), 24-24-36. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/213934052?accountid=34899• Erbes, C. R., Polusny, M. A., MacDermid, S., & Compton, J. S. (2008). Couple therapy with combat veterans and their partners. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 64(8), 972-983. doi:10.1002/jclp.20521
Reference• Marx, B. P. (2009). Posttraumatic stress disorder and operations enduring freedom and iraqi freedom: Progress in a time of controversy. Clinical Psychology Review, 29(8), 671-671-673. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2009.02.004• Sherman, M. D., Zanotti, D. K., & Jones, D. E. (2005). Key elements in couples therapy with veterans with combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 36(6), 626-626-633. doi:10.1037/0735-7028.36.6.626• Khaylis, A., Polusny, M. A., PhD., Erbes, C. R., PhD., Gewirtz, A., & Rath, M. (2011). Posttraumatic stress, family adjustment, and treatment preferences among national guard soldiers deployed to OEF/OIF. Military Medicine, 176(2), 126-126 -131. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/852353141?accountid=34899