How to communicate in a PTSD relationship?

Step 1: Clear, concise messages are needed to get your information across.

When you’re juggling post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury in one brain, this is not the time to start getting fancy with your vocabulary!  Your spouse needs a simple, concise message so he or she can give you a simple, concise answer.

Step 2: The sound of silence

This is a biggie for PTSD marriages.  Get comfortable with silence.  It’s okay not to say anything. Every last minute of every moment together does not have to be filled with noise. Every second of the day isn’t filled with conversation and it doesn’t mean something is wrong.

Step 3: Allow your veteran to answer.

Let your spouse talk.  Let your veteran have time to formulate his or her answer (as opposed to just continuing to talk until your hero finally says something).  This goes along with Step 2 – Silence.  You must be willing to be silent and wait for your spouse to figure out an answer.  If a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is involved, this is twice as important because it may very well take longer for your veteran’s brain to process (even if you’ve followed Step 1 and delivered a clear, concise message!).

Step 4: Question everything!

Here’s how it works.

With your third statement you’ve reconfirmed the information.  If you’re on a roll and
getting more than one word answers, this is even more important.  Try rephrasing what
you THINK you heard and asking your spouse if you’re correct. By repeating the story
from what you hear, you are eliminating the possibility of a misunderstanding.  This
works both ways and can be an effective way to reduce escalation in arguments because
you are keeping the logic intact rather than resorting to pure emotions.