PTSD Spirituality: PTSD Damages Love, Increases Porn and Infidelity

Many people struggling with PTSD feel as if they can no longer love or be loved.  Why is that?  Why do some PTSD sufferers engaged in infidelity and devour pornography?

The PTSD-Identity seeks to isolate us and then kill us.  One of the primary means by which PTSD isolates us is to alienate us from our healthy relationships. 

Yet, we don’t get up in the morning and choose to damage our most healthy and sacred relationships.  PTSD has to work at ruining our relationships.  It may be through anger or drugs/alcohol.  These days, PTSD has been executing its alienation gig by splitting up relationships through pornography and infidelity.

PTSD-based pornography addiction and infidelity are caused by damage to a person’s self-worth.  They feel they are no longer pure enough to keep being pure in their sexual actions.  Everything that was normal, before the trauma took place, has been turned upside down.  PTSD diminishes our ability to desire to remain unstained in the world (ref: James 1: 27).  This vector causes us to harm our pre-existing relationships and encourages alienation and isolation.

Trauma and Pornography Addiction

Time and again I hear about someone who was a loyal spouse, who after a tour of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan (or further back in Korea, Vietnam, or Desert Storm), came back and started sleeping around.  These were people with little or no former interest in pornography.  After their trauma experiences, they spend more time watching porn.  In many cases a porn addiction takes hold.

Like an alcoholic they will

  • sneak porn
  • say they can stop whenever they want to
  • say they just need a hit now and then to unwind
  • end up needing more and more and get less thrill from it
  • claim it is not hurting anyone else
  • choose porn over family and faith

When they realize they have an addiction they may enter deeper despair. 

Trauma and Infidelity

People may be driven to infidelity in order to attempt to feel some small modicum of worth.  PTSD damages our self-worth; it makes us feel small, and wants us to feel like we don’t matter at all.

Even though our loved ones tell us they love us, the PTSD makes us feel as if that is not true or that their love is not very important. 

It is almost as if the PTSD-Identity says the only way to know if you have self-worth is if someone else is willing to get naked with you for 3-7 minutes, in some cases even over night. 

In the PTSD perspective, a variety of partners then shows that one has more value.

Besides the obvious problems of catching physical diseases, one discovers they will feel even less worthwhile after they have engaged a new partner.  This experience encourages despair and then PTSD says, go find someone else, that will prove you are a worthwhile person. 

Ironically, the more a PTSD afflicted person sleeps around and cheats on their spouse, the worse they feel about themselves.

How Does the PTSD Soul Wound Damage Self-Worth?

While there are four ways to contract PTSD, two ways tend to damage the sense of self-worth the most.  Perpetrator PTSD and Victim PTSD each make the person feel tainted beyond worth, value, and redemption.

Perpetrator PTSD is when a person traumatizes someone else. 

If I shoot someone, even in self-defense, I have perpetrated trauma and am liable to get PTSD.  If I torture people for the government (like the Roman soldiers did to Jesus at the orders of their government), then I can contract perpetrator induced PTSD.

Victim PTSD is to have been traumatized yourself.  

Someone or something did something to me and I now have PTSD.  Shot at me, raped me, whatever…I have been traumatized and my soul has been wounded with PTSD.  This is the PTSD type we normally think about. 

PTSD Wants Me to Feel Impure

In my conversations with PTSD sufferers I find that they often feel spiritually tainted.  They did something or something was done to them that makes them feel unworthy, unclean, stained at the level of their souls or identity.  This feeling of impurity is a result of PTSD, it is a PTSD symptom.

Sometimes (not always) a rape victim will later become promiscuous.  I am told that this is because they no longer feel pure. 

PTSD Says: Your purity has been ripped away, so what is the point of keeping clean and honorable? 

These PTSD symptoms cause despair.  In a search for self valuation, the person may begin to sleep around, even with people they don’t really like.

Sometimes someone who has killed someone else will say that they can never go back to not being a killer.  They wish they could, but now they are stuck, molded, into the life of a killer, someone who does not value the humanity of others: Such a person is someone who sleeps around and consumes porn.

The PTSD sufferer is made to feel as if they are not loveable.  As if they can never be redeemed.  As if they can never properly love another person again.

When someone with PTSD says

they don’t know if they can ever love again or ever be loved,

that is a sign of the PTSD soul wound.

The PTSD-Identity Seeks to Inhibit Love.

In order to isolate and then kill the sufferer the PTSD-Identity wants to destroy all healthy relationships.  The best way to poison a relationship is to cause betrayal and the loss of love.  This is accomplished through pornography, infidelity, and promiscuity.

If someone looks at porn, most spouses feel threatened. 

It is very difficult to forgive adultery: Physical adultery through actual sex acts with someone else, or mental adultery by fantasizing about an abused/exploited sex worker.

Either form of adultery causes not only damage to the people directly involved (sex workers, prostitutes, other side of an affair), but also to the spouse.  It bites at their own self-worth; it tears at their own sense of self.  Even though they are not the cause of the infidelity or porn usage, they may think so and enter their own despair.

Regardless, infidelity and porn strain relationships.  That is a PTSD Goal: Strain and Destroy Relationships to Cause Further Isolation and Despair.

Infidelity can be recovered from.  It is difficult.  It requires grace and prayer to be blessed with the deep forgiveness necessary to cleanse that kind of soul wound.  But it is possible.

The PTSD Relationship Destruction Paradox

PTSD damages our sense of self.  It makes us feel impure because of the trauma we have suffered and/or have inflicted upon others.  This makes us feel less worthy and less pure than the time before we became traumatized.  Paradoxically, in order to feel alive and as if we had self-worth, we engage in the very behaviors that damage us further, alienate us from those who love us, and deepens our despair.

Yet, we can defeat this cycle.  We remain individuals who have inherent self-worth.  We are created and loved by God.  We don’t have to give into the PTSD temptations.  Even if I have harmed others, God still loves me.  I still have value.

It is a hard ride.  We may have to ask forgiveness.  As hard as it can be to forgive others, it is also hard to seek forgiveness. 

The PTSD wants us to give up and wallow in despair.  Yet, through love, we can heal.  No matter how we got our PTSD, love can help heal us.  Love is an antibiotic to the PTSD bacterium.

It is never hopeless.

Semper Pax, Dr. Z

Comments

  1. Just as I’ve read in the comments, my husband is the same. He was in the army ten years ago. He had an affair last year, and thanks to the VA he contributes it all to PTSD.
    But the dependence he has on porn is outrageous and he defends it by saying that all men do it. It has ruined our marriage because I can’t overlook it. I have tried, but I cannot. Since we’ve agreed on divorce he has become physically abusive. My days are spent in a fog, he refuses to leave. I don’t want to abandon him, I know he needs someone and his family has denounced him, he has no one.
    I’m at a loss and I don’t know what to do.

    • Hello Rachell,
      First and foremost what you have to do is look out for your own personal safety and safeguard any children and/or pets you are responsible for.
      If he has become abusive, and since you have already agreed on divorce, it is time to develop and execute an escape plan that maximizes your personal safety.
      You mention that you don’t want to abandon him. Perhaps what you are doing at this point is enabling him, and that at the risk of your personal safety.
      From your description, he is content to live in the current situation, even though it destroys you. To state the obvious, a divorce is never fun and one will have to make the hard choices.
      What the Army and PTSD has done to him is tragic and devastating (for both of you). Yet, PTSD does not license him to become abusive or demean you. You are better than that.
      Going through this throws its own form of PTSD shrapnel at you and you will need to take extra care of yourself. I hope you have someone you can talk with face to face and who is a non-judgemental listener. Although this situation will try and put you into a fog, be sure to get outside, get some exercise, pray (even if it feels rote),and try to engage in some form of creativity. These acts, done daily, will help you survive and then thrive. They are valuable in and of themselves, but will also allow you to find some mental space to make decisions that are as clear as the situation allows.
      Feel free to write me using the information on the Contact Page.
      Your personal safety and that of any children and/or pets is paramount.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  2. This describes my husband. He is navy and was so different when we dated and were engaged. After we got married, he didnt start changing until after deployment. He has had two affairs and calls me all kinds of names, and just doesnt respect my feelings-or me anymore. He has never been diagnosed with PTSD bit last night je brought up how it was a contributing factor to affairs

    • Hello Rachelle,
      Some men will not be able, and for some they will be simply unwilling, to heal from what their deployments and subsequent PTSD behaviors have done to them and their most important relationships. That said, some will both desire to and be able to repent of the destructive behaviors and damage they have done to others. Some will seek to be restored to the healthy relationships their PTSD has damaged. I wish I could say who this will apply to and who it will not, but since we are all unique individuals, I cannot. Still, it is impressive that he volunteered that PTSD is a contributing factor to affairs. Most of the men who flame and burn their marriages refuse to consider PTSD or the influence it has on their relationships. In many ways his statement is a good sign.
      Be sure to look after your own well being throughout this ordeal. It is quite possible to acquire one’s own case of PTSD due to a spouse’s infidelity and being treated poorly (especially as compared to pre-deployment treatment). I hope you have people you can talk to face to face who are both trustworthy with your confidences and wise enough to just shut up and listen without flooding you with advice or similar stories. Taking care of your own well-being is crucial.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  3. Allyson sterling says:

    This is basically what my husband has been doing . He was in the military for four years and even though we got married after he had served, he wasn’t like this when we met and married. I don’t know who he is any more. He is manipulative, has affairs, degrades me, disrespects my family and refuses to put our marriage before other women. I can’t stand by him anymore, he refuses to get real help and just waits for the v.a. that still hasn’t gave him an appointment. He has been close to putting his hands on me for crying.

    • Hello Allyson,
      Your own personal safety is the first and foremost priority. If it has come to where “he has been close to putting hands on me for crying,” then you need an escape plan for your own personal safety.
      You do not have an obligation to stay with a man who degrades you and has affairs. While I am personally very pro-marriage, there is no obligation to stay in this situation. This is especially true if your husband is not putting any effort into trying to heal himself and the damage to your marriage. Your own dignity and personal safety come first.
      What you describe can be a product of PTSD or he could have just turned into a dickweed, or some combination of the two. Regardless, your personal safety and dignity should be your first priority.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  4. Good Afternoon
    just came across this article. You have just describe all that I’ve been going through with my boyfriend of almost 3 years. He is active in the military has be deployed 3 different times, and suffers from PTSD. When we first me he was my knight and shining prince, and within a short period a time he turned into my worst nightmare. Long story short I found out that he had lied, and cheated with multiple females for almost a year. I confronted him about it and he made promises to me that it would never happen again, but I have a gut feeling that he is still cheating. After everything transpired I set boundaries in which I recently found out he has yet to follow. I went through his phone( which he hates me doing) and found out that he’s still in contact with 3 of his exes, one he cheated while in a relationships with me. He goes days without communication or returning phone calls, but is VERY ACTIVE on social networks (daily) . Special events that I invited him to, he never shows, but will attend his friends event. Christmas, thanksgiving, birthdays and valentines’ Day he always seem to be a no show. I’m completely frustrated, I’ve tried everything to get so type of reasoning and understanding. He asked me to fight for him even if the person I’m fighting is him, but I’ve given up hope. I don’t think he’s able to be the man he promised he’ll be, I’m tired of making excuses for him. I’m tired of the what ifs that always linger in my head. How do you continue to fight to be with someone you love, but don’t feel the love replicated?

    • Hello, The change from Knight in Shining Armor to Nightmare Spouse is unfortunately all too common in cases of military PTSD. PTSD damages our sense of self and will often cause us to distance ourselves from those who love us the most. This distancing is often done through infidelity and distancing from the relationship.
      You mentioned, “He asked me to fight for him even if the person I am fighting is him.” If he means that then he needs to help in the fight and by that I mean he has to make an effort himself. I don’t know if you saw it or not but I recently posted this on the website: http://www.ptsdspirituality.com/2016/02/29/ptsd-spirituality-infidelity-should-i-stay-or-should-i-go/ In it, I listed some of the things a spouse needs to commit to if he really wants to stay together. If he really wants to stay together – and if you want to stay together with him – then he ought to commit to your examining his cel phone now and then. If he is really bad off or fundamentally dishonest then he would get a second phone, but a desire to stay married requires commitments on his part. One such commitment would be a willingness to go to counseling.
      You need to look out for your own well-being in all of this. Dealing with a cheating spouse is exceedingly stressful, which you know, of course. But you can also pick up your own PTSD from all of this and thus it is important for you to take good care of yourself.
      Not everyone can see such a situation through and stay together, other people can, there is no one size fits all solution.
      As time permits, read the piece on should I stay or should I go and see if any of that might be useful to you.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  5. Hi. I am in the same boat as most of you. My husband and I have been married for 19 years.He is retired now. my husband has PTSD. He refuses to get help for this. He works weekends so for 4 days a week he stays drunk. I had noticed a few months ago he started to use darkening hair color. He has grey hair as well as his beard. He’s 50 yrs old. I never thought anything about it. He started to be on his phone more and more. I was getting ready for work one morning. His phone started dinging from text messages. He was passed out on the couch again. I picked up his phone and my life changed. I found out he was physically cheating on me with a 25 yr old and another girl and sexting. When I asked him, he blamed me. I filed for a divorce and he begged me not to. The papers haven’t been served yet. He still wants me in his life. He created a Facebook acct. so what he’s doing now is going on other peoples wall and sending out requests to young single females. He doesn’t know these women. He said he quit talking to this women and seeing this girl. A month has past. I tried hard everyday to move on. To fix things. Like I have for the past 19 yrs. last night I was sent a pic of this girl that he is still seeing. I can’t even look at my husband right now without my stomach turning. I am so angry and hurt that this is happening. We both have worked so hard to have our forever home. We both have everything we wanted together. And now this. I honestly don’t know what to do. Have the papers served and move on knowing this will never end or stay and ignore it. Please help

    • Hello Stacey, You are going through awful, horrible times. I’d suggest your first concern should be with your own well-being and that of any children you may have. Your own psychological and spiritual health have been under assault by this situation and you need to be careful to not get more wounded from this situation than you already have.
      If your husband is unwilling to to make a commitment AND a plan for his own healing and healing of the marriage (counselling, substance abuse evaluation), then there is not much reason for you to continue to take wounds. If he is willing to seek help and commit to it, then the marriage may be salvageable. Sitting in a stew of anxiety and anger will not help you heal, so a middle ground may be necessary of a separation. A professional marriage counselor would have the best insights on this.
      Ultimately, as you know, the decision will be up to you (and other people should only point out options and probabilities, they should not make your decisions). I would strongly advise you not to make the decision out of anger or pity. You have every reason to be angry right now, but decisions based on anger don’t work out real well. You need to ask yourself if you can realistically see the situation improving, what it would take to get to that point, and if you are willing and able to take on that journey.
      I hope this helped to some extent.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

      • Thank you. I understand what your saying. To me this is almost like grieving. The man I fell in love with no longer exists until he gets help. There’s nothing I can do.

      • How does one begin to heal? This is almost like grieving the loss of a loved one.

        • It is like the loss of the person you felt you had while you had no idea of what was happening behind the scenes

  6. Hello,

    My husband is active duty and has really bad ptsd. He claims he can handle it, his way of handling it is through drinking. He can become verbally abusive when he drinks to much which is taking a toll on our relationship. About 3 months ago I found out he cheated on me. We have been trying to work through it but it has been very difficult. Well a few nights ago I went through his phone, which he is totally against, and I found that he has been with multiple women most just meeting up for sex and watches a lot of porn. I feel like I don’t even know this man! He found out I went through his phone and he has been gone the past 3 days. I’m not sure what to do at this point. I love my husband but I don’t want to sit here and be disrespected and cheated on. We have a newborn baby and he says he wants us out. Is this behavior normal? Before this incident he told me he wants us to work and wants his family. I just don’t understand this type of love. One day you love us then the next when you get angry you disappear and want us out. I guess I am looking for some guidance here. I’m so lost.

    Thank you for listening

  7. This spoke to my heart. Now if I could only get my husband to read this. Do you know of any good couples counselors in the Baltimore Maryland area? Or anyone that is great with military ptsd?

    • Hello Chris,
      I’m sorry, but I don’t know anyone in the Baltimore area. You will, however, find some excellent PTSD healing work with the Healing Warrior’s Hearts organization (http://starfishfound.org/veterans/). Patricia Clason, one of the prime movers for Healing Warrior’s Hearts, really knows her stuff in terms of both military PTSD and also how it affects relationships. You can also email me using contact information from the Contact page. I usually check that account in the mornings and will certainly return a message. You may also find the book “An Operator’s Manual for Combat PTSD,” by Hart, valuable to understanding what is going on. I have found this book useful even for people with PTSD who have nothing to do with combat. I sometimes require it as reading for my students when covering PTSD.
      While it is important that your husband seek healing, it is equally important that you also tend to your own self-care. The spouses and partners of people with PTSD need to ensure they are not themselves too deeply wounded in the process. It is easy to feel inadequate and lacking, so we must be sure to take care of ourselves as well.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  8. My fiancée was in a serious car accident 20years ago. He has been diagnosed with PTSD just over a year ago. He has been having problems with drinking since before I meet him and has recently admit his is an alcoholic and started getting help (this is after I have seen him go through a number of multiple day binges drinking 24hrs). I recently discovered he has also been cheating on me with prostitute through our whole relationship. I always believed he would never cheat on me and he has often said this to me. I feel like my whole life has fallen apart and am struggling to decide if I should give our relationship a chance. We are currently in communication every day and see each other a couple of times a week although I have moved out since I found out.
    Is his behavior (mainly the cheating) a common factor of PTSD? Is it possible for someone who has taken on this behavior to be a faithful partner in future?
    I am really struggling with how I can learn to trust him again since I never realized what he was doing in the first place.
    Is there anyone on here who has been in a similar situation be it on either my fiancée position or mine that could shed some light/advice/information

    • Hello Lucy, In my experience, self-medicating (escaping) via heavy alcohol use is quite normal for people who have not yet learned how to live with PTSD. Frequently, but not always, sexual promiscuity is also engaged in. The sexual promiscuity can be trying to feel like they have value and/or trying to feel alive against the numbing one can experience with PTSD.
      I would strongly suggest that you see a professional couples counselor before getting married. It is possible to have a successful relationship with someone who has PTSD. That said, it requires an immense amount of self-confidence, trust, and willingness to talk. If the person with PTSD is not willing to accept professional help, then the marriage would be under a heavy strain from day one.
      It is possible to forgive someone who has cheated on you. But it is not required that we forgive and then go onto marry that person if they are not willing to seek healing.
      Your own personal well-being is also very important here. This is a terrible blow for you to have suffered, the sense of betrayal can be devastating. Making sure that you are okay is very important. I hope you have a close friend who you can talk with face to face.
      Regardless of which way you go with your relationship, do not expect to be able to just shrug off this blow over night. This kind of discovery is very hard and can make a person doubt themselves. Allow yourself the time and opportunity to heal.
      It is not unusual for people to engage in illicit sex as part of their PTSD. This does not get them off the hook, but understanding and dealing with the PTSD symptoms which lead to this behavior is very important…especially if one is considering the lifelong commitment of marriage.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

      • Thank you for your reply. He has started to do alcohol counseling and stopped drinking. He has said he is doing what it takes to make things better. It is still a hard road and at times I really feel like giving up but I love him with my whole heart and love the person he is when he isn’t drinking and has the moments of positivity. Unfortunately I don’t know if I can trust him again, I start to think I can but then something happens like I phone and he doesn’t answer and I start thinking what he could be doing. I keep having visions during the day of him engaging in sex acts with other people and keep having dreams that are like porn movies (from what I can imagine as never seen one) with him. I keep searching one of the brothels I know he used and am finding myself stalking a couple of the girls I found information on in the house. I know we need to talk about things more and I keep feeling like I want every detail of everything that happened but I also don’t know if I want to know. He seems to be avoiding talking about it to me now and I notice we seem to be moving further apart in communication. I don’t know if that’s because he doesn’t want to tell me or if it’s because he is still cheating even though he said he only did it when he was binging with the alcohol.
        I have spoken to a physiologist but didn’t find it all that helpful. I know he is seeing one that specializes in PTSD but I dong feel like I can ask him about it as I feel he is going through his own journey with it all. I am also worried he will stop the drinking for now to stop me from leaving but then start again when he feels he has me back. It is all so confusing!
        I have been raped in the past so I can notice a lot of my past behaviors after that happened with your comments in your articles. Especially the promiscuous behavior and drinking because the feeling of being dirty and impure. The ironic thing is I felt like he helped pull me through that when I meet him.

        • Hi Lucy, I am glad that he is seeking assistance for his PTSD and is taking steps about the abusive drinking.
          Perhaps you and he can sit down and you could share about how you have these waves of doubt. You could mention you are not making accusations, but rather trying to explain about the dreams and anxieties.
          In my own past I went through the hard period of having “What if…?” sorts of “daymares” and finding myself dwelling on the possible negatives. That was part of my own PTSD interacting with the shock of the new information I had received.
          If you could describe some of that to him without sounding accusatory then you will probably find that those daymares don’t feel as intense or real. If you can talk with him about it or not, you should write about it in your own journal. That will probably not make the daymares suddenly vanish, but it will help.
          I would also suggest you try to explain to him how he helped you through your rape trauma, it helps him to see he has value and the positive way in which he has helped in the past.
          I hope that some of this helps.
          Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  9. I am amazed at how much I hate and love what you have said here. I am that person ! I have thought and continue to think and feel the way you described in your blog. I am now in a world that you are talking about. I pray everyday that I can stop hurting my family but that seems to fall unheard. I am now at the point that I either hospitalize myself or I will be dead. I have that choice now! I am a beaten and broken Soldier/ Medic. I continue to hurt my family and friends by the very process you have described.

    • Hello Steve, Part of the process where we win ourselves back from PTSD is gaining knowledge and recognition. As the saying goes, “Information is power.” The healing for you and also for your family is amplified by the more you can learn and recognize. Many of us have some apologies (including to ourselves) to make and treatment to seek. You have value, both to yourself and to others, especially your family. Do not give up hope, rather take the steps to seek help for your PTSD. I (and others) will include you and your family in prayer. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  10. Good day,
    I am so glad I stumbled upon this article. Wow!!! I was diagnosed with PTSD and admitted to hospital for 2 weeks. I had an alcohol addiction as well (which I denied at that stage) agter getting divorced in January. 1 month after I was released I cheated on my boyfriend after going out one night and getting drunk while on the medication. Now when I look back I cannot believe that I am solely responsible for hurting another person so badly. I have since then tried to commit suicide as I feel so guilty and cannot live with myself knowing that I have hurt someone so badly. This no resulted in my boyfriend feeling less of a man and not worthy. Is this how this disease spreads? I have stopped drinking and got my 2 kids back and me and my boyfriend are still toghether. I am still searching answers as I cannot understand that I am capable of causing someone so much pain. I know I made a mistake by taking the meds and alcohol. I am really trying to find answers and everyday is like hell for me. Can the medication and alcohol and PTSD make you a total different person and make you do things that is totally against your moral values? Can it cause you to do things and you just dont care? I am really finding it hard to deal with my infidelity and the pain it caused.
    Thank you so much for a wonderful page.

    • Hello and thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment.
      It is quite possible for people who suffer from the symptoms of PTSD to be a cause of another person’s PTSD. It does not always happen, but it can happen. I tend to think of it as metaphorical shrapnel that harms someone who cares about us and potentially traumatize them. You may find the following link useful: http://www.ptsdspirituality.com/2009/11/01/ptsd-spirituality-ptsd-shrapnel-makes-ptsd-contagious/

      Mixing medications with alcohol when PTSD is already present can cause us to act out in very regrettable ways. I am aware of some cases where the mix of alcohol, medications, and PTSD resulted in behaviors that the individual would never have engaged in otherwise. At times, this behavior has resulted in the person being arrested and subsequently imprisoned. In regard to your other question: yes, PTSD encourages us to damage our healthy relationships and be the person who we do not really want to be. Does it always happen? No. Once we start getting informed about our PTSD and what it means, we can begin to take the necessary life-saving precautions. Realizing that at certain times of day we may be more susceptible and more vulnerable to triggers is always an important discovery. Making a commitment to not mix drugs/medications with booze is a life-saving decision.

      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  11. I can relate… Feel numb all the time

    • Hi Chris,
      Sometimes we end up oscillating between feeling numb all the time to feeling too much (hyper-sensitivity) all the time. Over time, as we learn how to identify our symptoms and find meaning in new pursuits the feeling of perpetual numbness can leave us. I wish I could say that it’s like flipping a switch, but the journey is more gradual than that. As we learn that our numbness is not well-served through certain unhealthy activities we can try to seek out life and healthy awareness. At times the numbness can be a healthy response to too much stimuli, but we also have to be careful to not over-compensate with negative behaviors as we try to find out if we can feel anything at all anymore. Part of the healing journey is to realize we still have value even though we have been wounded with PTSD. Refusing to give-up on our self-worth is part of the healing journey.
      You have value.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  12. Hello.i emailed about a month ago regarding my husband going to escorts and having 2 affairs.one was via texting and the other was over 6 months and was texting calling and they met twice the later ended because she called it off.
    Im in great turmoil as i have discovered thru investigating all the terrible things he did.he has also offered up some information aswell.he is catholic and has been going to see the preist and goes to church now each sunday.
    He is also seeing a psychologist.
    While he is very sorry and doing everything he can to put this right and he does want me back,i am finding it very impossible to come to terms with.
    He says the psychologist has said the ptsd could have caused self destructive behaviour causing him to seek other women.
    I cannot imagine ever trusting him again bit i do know he wouldnt ever do this again as i know him well to when he is taking things seriously.
    We are separated and he is loving somewhere else.i may not ever want him home again but we may have a relationship apart.not sure

    The pain i feel is absolutely devestating as how could he do this.i cannot understand how he can emotionally and physicslly be with someone else.he has told me it was nothing to do with me and that i was a 100% loving wife.

    I have messaged you as i find ptsd hard to understand that it could cause someone to cheat?
    Thanks

    • Hello Adi, You are right: PTSD is hard to understand. You are going through an absolutely horrid time right now. Physical trust, emotional trust, and spiritual trust have all been damaged. Damaging these levels of one’s relationship is one of the primary goals of PTSD. There is no simple answer to whether or not you will be able to fully trust again (many people have trouble with fully trusting even without being damaged by their own or someone else’s PTSD). It could go either way. If we allow the bitterness and anger to linger too long, then that is what will come to define us. If we are able to shed them at some point, then it is quite likely that we will be able trust again in the future.
      It is certainly true that a trauma survivor’s PTSD can cause them to engage in adulteress behaviors. And, although this seems weird, it is not necessarily engaged in due to some problem they have with their spouse. We can be 100% loving to our spouses and still attacked by this sort of PTSD behavior. Unfortunately, we are unable to see deep into the future and discover who will return to fidelity and who will not.
      It is good that he is seeing both a priest and a psychologist. Given his traumatic experiences, this is a good idea for him, even without the sexual misadventure.
      It is important for you to also make sure you are chatting with someone you can trust. Face to face is best, when possible. The stress, doubt, anger, bewilderment, can fill us up and we need to release some of that through conversation, prayer, and creative acts (such as writing, art, prayer, or music).
      The PTSD can cause such doubt in ourselves, in our sense of worth, that we can feel compelled to prove our physical self-worth through promiscuity. This does not excuse us from our actions, but it may help us understand why those actions took place.
      Feel free to comment further on the website or email me using the details from the Contact page. I usually check these PTSD accounts once a day in the morning (Central Standard Time in the USA).
      This is a horrible, painful time for you. But it will pass, it will not cause you this much pain forever.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

      • I lived with a man for over 3 years. He did a tour in Iraq. He was very secretive, guarded his cell phone, computer,etc, etc. I suspected for a long time something was going on. Had I listened to my instincts it would have saved me from a lot of emotional, physical and financial ruin. He was obsessed with porn and I even caught him in several situations. All of which he would quickly justify and lie to my face about. I can only say at this point after a year of therapy, that I am happy to have survived the situation. I don’t feel remorse, guilt, shame, nor will I ever attempt to spend one minute of my time trying to figure out or comprehend someone elses issues. Its just that “their issues” Save your own soul and focus on the reasons “you” continue to engage yourself with a destructive individual. PTSD or not…..

        • Hello, I am glad that you were able to remove yourself from a destructive situation. While we may care for the well-being of others, it is still paramount that we not become fatally wounded ourselves. Use of porn and the engagement of infidelity go hand in hand with deceiving others and even engaging in self-deception. And all of this deception damages everyone in its “blast area.” I am also glad that you were able to talk with a professional therapist and help get things into proper perspective. You, yourself, are valuable and should not be trodden under by another. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

          • Hello.i received a reply from someone that i did not expect regarding her situation with a 3 year relationship.whilst i understand that her situation must of been hard noone knows or understands my situation exactly.i have chosen to stand by my husband even though he has done what he has done.he is seeking treatment and also going to church and has counselling with thw preist regularly.i think that people should not assume that all people with ptsd are just going to go on causing damage.some people are capable of change,receiving forgiveness and healing.meaning they can go on to have a complete and honest life.i do not want anyone to judge me or assume my sitiation is flipant in that i am blinded by love and continue to allow myself to be treated badly.this is not the case as i know my husband aside from this illness.he has left and is living away and will not return until he is well.i made the decision for us to live apart while he receives ongoing treatment and religious counselling too.i feel that if someone has mistreated someone through ptsd actions it is an individuals decision to trust they are going to get well and that it is possible.

            Not everyone tries to get well and cannot recognise they are even ill.my husband has recognised that and will be well again.people need to understand that im not walking away because i know the real him.beleive me i can see it.please do not make judgements on me based on ure own experiences.

            Im going through enough without being told what u think i should be doing etc.

            Thanks

          • Hi.sorry this is my second reply today but i have a question. If someone causes pain from infidelity and porn and seeks helps through treatment and spirirual connection is it then wrong to forgive and in time remain in that relationship?providing of course that that person has changed and been healed.

            Your reply to the lady that was with someone who had been in iraq and was with him for 3 years decided to leave him.but my husband is having treatment and is desperate and willing to change and get well

            Regards

          • Hello Adi,
            Two soldiers on the same patrol may be affected differently from the same traumatic events. Two people with similar PTSD symptoms may have arrived there from different paths. The spouses of people with PTSD will also have some particular nuances in how they understand the other person’s PTSD and how they deal with the grief of infidelity.
            You are not wrong to forgive and stand with your husband. Some people with PTSD are willing to seek treatment and do the best they can to revive their damaged relationships, others are not.
            The ability to forgive is a grace. It is rarely an easy grace to live out. If I forgive someone, it does not mean I am indifferent to their actions and the pain and harm they have caused. I may still need to be vigilant to help my loved one not fall prey to their temptations again. I would also need to be vigilant in order to not lay myself out to be blind-sided and further wounded. When we forgive someone, we don’t turn a blind-eye, we are willing to try and help someone heal, but also stay careful that we ourselves do not get swamped by PTSD behaviors.
            Some people are in situations where they can forgive and stand together with their partner against further adversity. Some will find they can forgive, but can only do so at a distance and can no longer be in a close situation with that person. And others will discover, that at present they are unable to forgive or entertain any notion of being with the person in question. Not any of those are easy options. If a person’s PTSD behavior’s are too destructive, then one may have to sever the relationship.
            In your particular case, you are able to forgive and move forward, eyes open to potential pitfalls. That your husband seeks to heal and be forgiven is both crucial and wonderful…not everyone is willing to admit a problem, seek forgiveness, and move towards healing.
            You are not wrong to forgive and stand with your husband.
            Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  13. Ted Ford says:

    After posted this I found the post by you, Dr. Z., about your surgury and recovery. I hope all goes well with the recovery understanding that you still have other issues. I am sure the ability to breathe and talk freely is a God send.

    Ted

  14. Joe/Dr. Z., there has been no activity on this thread since my post. I am wondering if everything is okay.

    Ted

    • Hello Ted (and Joe), I’ve been out of commission the last while (see the last two posts for blather on my surgeries).
      That said, I have been working on the questions you and Joe have asked about. Have been doing some writing long hand which I will convert to edited digital copy if all goes well. As I recover, I have been able to work on writing projects more and I have not forgotten the concerns about rape, PTSD, and infidelity.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  15. Ted again. Just came back to the site. Joe, my wife did not say there was two people inside her. I said to her “it is like you are two different people.” She seemed to be this wonderful, special person that changed periodically to a hard, calculating emotionless almost evil person. Before we were married, actually before we started dating she had a day personality that changed when the sun went down and she drove into the nearby city and had sex individually with a house of single men. It was my comment that she changed when the sun went down. Obviously that was not every night but it did occur.

    Joe and Dr. Z., my wife cannot remember any details of either the adultery before we were married or 25 years later with the adultery after. There are a few things she can remember but not much.

    I think my wife understood that she was doing something wrong. She went to great lengths to keep it secret, especially from those whose opinions she valued. However, she never had any feelings of guilt or remorse or despair. What she does remember is that she virtually felt no emotions. The only emotion that came out was anger if I “dared” question her about her activities.

    We are together but struggling. Married for 37 years soon. She is finally starting to deal with the many issues I wish she would have dealt with years ago. I knew there were problems but had no idea to what extent.

    Dr. Z., I hope you are coping with your difficulties. As a caring person you may extend yourself too much. Please don’t do that but if you are able I am sure that Joe and myself and perhaps other readers would appreciate whatever you can provide.

    Take care.

    Ted

  16. The comment by Joe Garcia was so close to my situation with my wife it is almost like it could have been written by me. My wife was sexually permissive as a teenager. She had sex with a number of married men. I did not know the full extent of her activities until a few months ago when she finally admitted to committing adultery with a co-worker for 3+ years. A few months after admitting to the adultery more details came out but she still considered herself to be to blame. She was sexually abused (I asked her 20 years ago if she was and she said no), she had double abandonment, absolutely no boundaries established by a parent, sexually abused as a child (I still think there is more that she cannot remember) and was (my opinion) raped by father figures as a teenager. Before we were married she committed adultery. Then after 25 years of marriage at the age of 45 with our youngest 2 daughters leaving home at the same time to 2 different universities she becomes involved with a co-worker. The infidelity lasted over 3 years.

    I was hoping to see the response to Joe Garcia’s 2nd post. I am hoping you can do a follow-up with either Joe or myself on this topic. This article was mentioned on Surviving Infidelity under a sexual abuse topic. If you can reply I thank you. I understand that you have health issues that make typing difficult.

    Ted

    • Hello Ted, I will try to buck-up and address this concern. I tend to hear from people on both sides of this painful quandary. There is so much pain that gets spread by this sort of PTSD symptom. While there is no joy in knowing that others have similar pain in their relationships, do know that you are not alone, and that healing can occur. I will try to write a follow-up in the near future on Joe’s second post. Also, thank you for letting me know that this post has been found to be useful elsewhere on the internet.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

    • Dr.Z / Ted, its me again (Joe). I read Ted’s note and can only say that I feel his pain. Understanding the effects of sexual abuse is something so forgien to me. It’s like he more I know the less I understand. I have read and researched everything I can get my hands on to help with my understanding of the effects that the rape had on my wife. Your site has helped but I still have so many questions. We are still together, mostly in a good sense, we do have our difficult moments as I try to put the pieces of this puzzle together. One of my issues is how my wife pursued the other man. How she never saw her self as doing anything wrong until she was called on the carpet. More information on how to deal with this issue and an understand would greatly be appreciated.
      Joe

    • Joe Garcia says:

      Dr. Z / Ted, I would like to know the words and description your wife used to describe her affairs. Were they anything like; I didn’t realize I was doing anything wrong, or it was like there were two people living inside me. I needed an escape, I was unsettled, …… These are some of the phrases my wife used to describe her feelings and emotions during her affair. Can she remember details?
      Thanks
      Joe

      • Hi Joe and Ted, I will try and do some writing this coming weekend on what you have both brought up/asked about. With any luck, it will post by Monday. I’ve learned to be careful about making promises that have to do with sustained writing on my part, but I will do my best. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  17. Joe garcia says:

    Dr Z, my wife and I have what I thought was a wonderful 18 year relationship. We are so good in so many ways. We have shared true love and wonderful experiences together. When we first got together I knew that she was / acted in very promiscuous ways. I knew she engaged in affairs with married men. I also knew that she was raped in college. However I never knew or understood how this event affected her. I recently discovered that she has had several affairs while we have been married. The first one was in 2001 and the latest was last year, so she says. If I follow your logic and what she has told me then one could only understand that the effects of PTSD are constant. Therefore, how can I believe or understand her behaviors for only these two events that took place 11 years apart. I do not want to minimize the trauma of her rape or it’s affects on her as a person. But she has appeared to function and act normally over the years. Is it possible that her subconscious or her past behaviors took over last year. Is it possible for one to control themselves for 11 years then loose it?

    • Hello Joe, Let me answer your last question first: Yes, one can have things in control for a decade or so and then be overwhelmed and engage in negative PTSD behaviors. Rape trauma, like military trauma, is something that intrudes on the thoughts of survivors on a near-daily basis. Some mil-vets would say, Everyday I was in Vietnam I thought about being back in the States; everyday I’ve been in the States (several decades) I have thought about Vietnam. Rape trauma induced PTSD does not simply evaporate over time. It can be extremely difficult to discuss, even with loved ones.
      It is not unusual for me to be queried about PTSD and promiscuity. The PTSD desires to corrode our self-worth and can compel, or make a person more susceptible, to casual meaningless sex in a paradoxical act to feel alive and/or worthwhile or lovable. What is often most difficult for the injured spouse to grasp is that, in the case of PTSD, sex out of marriage, is not a commentary on the married relationship, rather it is indicative of PTSD trying to destroy healthy relationships and cause isolation. Many of us with PTSD can appear to function normally, we become experts in this…and our purpose is not to deceive, but protect ourselves from ripping our souls open once more by trolling through the trauma…we need to eventual express at least some of it, but it sure does hurt and the prospect of doing so is frightening.
      Paradoxically, we are still responsible for our behavior that we commit under the pressure of our PTSD. Having PTSD does not give me a free pass to engage in noxious behaviors. But, if love is the basis of a relationship, then one can explore the limits of their ability to understand and forgive (and with grace, discover we can go further on this path than we would have ever thought possible). One needs to recognize the damage they have committed, this can be a long journey.
      Recognize your own pain in this; you have some grieving to do. PTSD tends to throw shrapnel at those we love the most. Be careful it does not eat you up.
      I hope at least some of this helps.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

      • Joe Garcia says:

        Dr. Z, You are correct, the pain is overwheleming. I am very committed to our marriage and want to do what ever it takes to heal from this tramatic event and the effects that it has on me both physically, mentally and spritually. My wife also seams committed to do what she needs to do to finally recover from these events, (the rape and her infidelity). If I understand you correctly, these thoughts can fester in ones mind that make them act out? I believed that the behaviors of a person with PTSD that are displayed are purely reactionary. What I am saying is; my wife planned her second affair 2 1/2 months out. She started contacting her lover, arranged to see him and then she couldn’t get enough of him and continued contact and made plans to see him again. She was in an all out pursuit of this guy all while telling me how much she loved me. Do take note that our marriage isn’t perfect, never was. But it has always been pretty darn good. Knowing this how can one assume that these behaviors are reactionary? They seam to be carefully planned and thought out.
        Please help me with my understanding,
        Thank you
        Joe

        • Hi Joe, Can you email me using the info on the “Contact” page? I am physically unwell right now and I am calling it a day. I hope to teach class tomorrow morning. I’ll write back after that. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  18. Dr. Z.
    I’ve recently found out(on Oct. 11th 2013) that my husband was having engaging in adulterous behavior (i.e. sleeping with my “best friend” on several occasions, talking to women from “phone dating lines”, talking to several other different women on facebook asking them to engage in sexual activities and even had a one-night stand the day before he left the state for a job opportunity.) After getting him to finally confess to it, I find out that this behavior has been going on since he returned from Afghanistan in 2010. But there were no “alarms or red flags” to the change in his behavior. He tells me that his PTSD-identity (which he isn’t aware of the terminology- he called it ” his other self”) caused him to do these acts of betrayal. I understand that he is a victim of his own mind, and I’ve already forgave him, (even after discovering the other things he did) and we want to “start over”, but how am I to start over when all the wounds of the betrayals are so fresh in my heart? All of the flashbacks of the things that start to “add up” in his past behaviors can’t seem to stay out of my mind. I try not to “blame” him, but I still feel that there’s no excuse- not even his PTSD – as a legitimate reason to cheat.
    I’ve been very lost & confused in my emotions to the point where I’ve seeked the Lord to help me find my way through the darkest time of my life. But I still need help with juggling the grief, pain & shock of all that has happened.

    • The depth of your pain and anguish is real. We are capable of extending forgiveness but that does not mean we will suddenly stop feeling the pain. There are parallels between what you have experienced and mourning the loss of someone we care about. Grief is on-going, it takes a wile to live through it. The same applies to the grief you are experiencing now. The pain is at its deepest just now, it will not vanish because we have the maturity to forgive. Over time it will begin to decrease, but for now it will be hotter and more painful than it will be later on.
      It will be good if you can speak to someone trustworthy who will be able to just listen. I don’t know if you have a reliable pastor or spiritual connection, but if you do, then talk to them. I also recommend a lot of writing and prayer. Share your pain with God, the way his son shared his pain with God while on the cross. If you are artistic, then expressing your pain in your art or music can be a healing process – it is also another form of prayer. You may also want to visit the web site of Dr. Diane England at http://www.drdianeengland.com/ Her book is very valuable and would probably be helpful to you.
      Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to make the pain suddenly go away. But, do know this pain will not have to be the new normal. You will have to get through it, but it will decrease and it will stop interrupting your every thought. I know this from my own experience. God loves you. You have real value. Because you have real value and are a person built from God’s love, you will feel the pain for awhile, but this depth of pain will not have to last forever. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

    • Hello, I realize your post was in 2003, but just wondering how you are doing now? I am currently in the same situation and completely numb…I can forgive but not forget. 15 years and a child makes this such a difficult decision. Any words of wisdom? Thanks, also Mrs B.

      • Hello,
        One does not have to stay so completely numb for the rest of their lives. Those who are in denial about their own PTSD will have the hardest time and personal growth will remain stunted. An acknowledgement that we are afflicted with PTSD will not suddenly make all things better, but it does open a path to deeper healing. One can be redeemed from the porn, the numbness, even the sense of despair. Again, it is not the easy and quick path. But it is the path to Life. We are not sentenced to a lifetime of our worst PTSD symptoms. We can heal. Healing can be painful at times, but it is the opposite of death. You can regain your ability to love and also the quiet assurance that you are worthy to receive the love of others. In the meantime, we struggle minute by minute, day by day, to discover and live a more authentic life that honors others as well as ourselves. Don’t give up. You have value. You do. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

    • Hello.I feel your pain. My husband had cancer as a teenager 30 years ago.He was never told about it and was also controlled and oververly loved by his parents almost fussed.Very conflicting emotions resulted. Nothing was ever good enough by him. He grew up in a loved but negative environment also suffering cancer as a child and was infertile as an adult.

      He has been cheatinv with married women and escorts on and off for 10 years now. Ive just found out very recently. I love him and he is my husband but how do i get over this. I feel like i should leave him. He is showing remorse and shame now and is seeking counselling with a preist and also a psychologist weekly.

      I have asked a million questions after i did alot of investigation on his phone and managed to restore emails.Also looking on his accounts on the sites he was looking at.

      I wished I knew how to move on. Im 42 I do not want to go on wondring if we do get bk together that he is still cheating. He has given up his phonr etc and as I said is seeking help.He wants me back….

      • Hello Adi, What a horrible experience to be going through.
        You are right to feel the hurt and pain. If you did not, then there would be a deeper problem.
        While only you will be the one can that decide whether or not to leave him you may want to ask yourself a question. When you mention “I feel like I should leave him”…why is that? Maybe I am reading too much into the sentence and the words “feel” and “should,” but are you feeling as if you should due to some societal/social expectation? Does some other entity person or group desire you to leave in order to have its own validation?
        That said, you do need to look out for your own well-being first. These experiences tend to wound us deeply, as you clearly know. In response to the depth of the wound, we feel pain, anger, bewilderment, vulnerability. It may be wise for you to also seek some face to face counseling so as to help tend to your own wounds as well as sort out how to think about your husband.
        I am hoping you have a close friend you you can confide in. Someone who listens and does not tell you what to do, but who can hear about your wound and concerns. If possible, engage in some sort of creativity, writing, art, cooking, whatever. It may be difficult to find the will to start, but daily creativity, some daily journal writing, will help you find some meaning in this in the long run. These activities and also physical exercise also serve as forms of prayer. It feels otherwise, but the pain will recede eventually. This kind of pain and loss is like a tide that will go out and then sweep back in, but will eventually go back out and diminish over time. Presently all the wounds are fresh and the tide is high and feels permanent…but it will get better.
        Sorry for the longwindedness of all this, but do know it will resolve. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

        • Hello Dr Z.Thankyou. What you have said is very helpful. I have been talking to a few people and while some have said how long ade you going to put up with this and you should leave him etc. That is very hard as I end up using more energy telling them why im not sure. I did talk to someone close to me today and while they were ahocked they dod not say anythg negative and in fact said that it is my decision and that I shoukd make my own mind up and not worry about everyone elses views. I know that my husbamd without his illness is a kind loving person and would not do any of this deceit. I will have coinselling. There is a psychologist at the doctors who i can see quite quickly so no waiting. She is very good. I wont make any decisions now as I have much heing to do and learn how to be me in all of the process of healing.My husband is seeing a psychologist and the priest at the chirch for guidance.thanks so mucb again.adi

  19. My wife has ptsd due to being molested by her father at the age of six and being date-raped multiple times as a teenager. During our 12 year marriage, she has been unfaithful to me on at least two occasions. She was also an alcoholic but recently completed a 30 day treatment program. She is seeing a therapist and will soon be undergoing EMDR. It gives me some consolation and motivation to stay in the marriage to read that PTSD can be a catalyst for infidelity, that it has less to do with me than with the disease she is suffering from. Not that I would tolerate infidelity again, I have boundaries now, but through therapy she might be able to overcome her feelings of not having any worth.

  20. i was abused as a child. i am now 24 yrs old and just realized where my pain stems from. i have come to associate sex with love and self-worth. lately i am not experiencing that much..therefore i am in a turmoil, emotionally speaking. i came to an epitome today about this today. my problem now is how to deal with porn, how to handle knowing that my bf looks at it, and how to overcome the silly ideas of “not good enough” it plants in my head…

    • One of the first parts of healing the PTSD soul wound is recognising we have PTSD and then sorting out what caused it. Child abuse is certainly one of the ways that we can be afflicted with trauma and then PTSD. Suurvivors of child abuse may seek solace in porn as they mistake the sex act for authentic love. Getting unhooked from porn can be a difficult and challenging journey, but it is well worthwhile. If we can quit being inslaved to porn we will lead more auithentic lives and won’t be investing our tine and mnoney into an industry that turns the sex workers into meat pupets.

      Getting past the “not good enogh” stage is also part of the journey, but much like curing porn, curing this stage can also be a successful journey.

      If you have timne take a look at the porn category oin this website, it might prove useful for you and yuour boyfriend. Bringing the images of sex workers into our own beds means that we are not having authentic love. Rather we are just masturbatung with the involvement of another person. I say this because the porn user will often fantasize about a sex worker they sawe in a porn film while making love with their spouse or partner. That cheapnes love and fideliity and it further degrades the sex worker as well.

      Don’t give up on this. Sometimes you will be stronger than other times, if you stumble, then know it is normal to do so and then carry on the shedding of the PTSD addictions and behaviors from your life.
      Congratulations on discovering the abuse-PTSD-porn connections. We will pray for your well-being and being free of porn’s infection.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  21. Dr. Z,
    Thank you for your reassuring words. Your site and these posts are incredibly helpful in letting me know I’m not crazy and I’m not alone. It’s been a very long road up til now to begin to learn that it’s not directed at me; some days are better than others. I’ve started writing and am thinking about finding a way to share my story and struggle with others as the spouses of PTSD seem to be shamed or guilted…or something, into silence. Thanks again for your help and all you do!

  22. Jessica says:

    just stumbled on this blog and am in tears reading it. how do i help my husband realize he has a problem and he may have ptsd? our marriage is on the verge of desstruction and I know he’s got stuff to deal with but he refused to seek individual counseling, though he is engaged in marital counseling after infidelity and then seeking hookups online on ashleymadison type sites and using porn a lot. we nearly got separated and my esteem has been so damaged. i’m just rebuilding but he’s back at the same actions, though he doesn’t know I know, and i don’t know where to turn. as i type i’m waiting for my individual counselor to call me back and counsel me on what to do as i just last night learned he’s engaging in the same online activities.

    • Hello,
      You are going through a terrifying time. Have no doubt about that. I am relieved you are also getting guidance from an individual counselor as well a marriage counselor. In my experience, most PTSD-based infidelity is not directed at the spouse, they don’t really mean or want to hurt you. It is as if there are two compartments, one that loves you and the marriage and the other which is the PTSD-Identity. The latter seeps in and overrides the former.

      The affairs and the porn are usually in response to the PTSD and self-worth issues. They are not meant as an affront or attack on the spouse or the marriage. While it is incredibly painful it is not focused with intent at you. Having said that, I know it is still so painful and rips one’s guts out.

      You must be careful you do not get your own secondary PTSD from the trauma you are experiencing in this situation. See http://www.ptsdspirituality.com/2009/11/01/ptsd-spirituality-ptsd-shrapnel-makes-ptsd-contagious/ for an essay I wrote about that.

      I don’t know if you can bring in your spouse’s parents. Some people can, some cannot – every situation is unique. Also, you might ask the marriage counselor to bring PTSD into the discussions and counseling. It would be a valid part of the therapy.

      You may be familiar with the PTSD Relationship work of Dr. Diane England. She has a very useful website and book. I have not finished the reading her book, but I like what I have seen. Her site is: http://www.drdianeengland.com/

      At the risk of overemphasizing my own website, I know that some people have printed off some of these essays and shared them with spouses and their adult children who come back with PTSD.

      Be sure to take care of your own mental and spiritual health. Keep seeing your own counselor. Start or keep praying. If you don’t keep a journal, then start one. If you don’t know what to write, then write “I don’t know what to write” until you fill three pages. Most people find they only write it out a dozen times and then they are writing the important stuff. You need not share it with anyone. But writing it out will help you better understand the situation and your options, and like prayer, it will bring solace.

      I, and others, will keep you and your husband in prayer.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  23. Thank you Dr. Z!

    Love heals so much. As a military spouse of a combat vet (OIF and OEF), I have been on the losing end of porn addiction, promiscuity and infidelity. He asked me to forgive him, I was able to. It takes time, consistency and love. Your words help to understand and channel the pain I feel about the infidelity on PTSD…it is the illness not the man. My husband is still the greatest man I have ever known. It’s not his fault, and he is making efforts to heal.
    His pain is real and I love him every moment of every day. I wish I could take his pain away.

    • Hi, A colleague recently read through all of my essays (I guess he was getting a jump on purgatory) and then he mentioned to me that he found they had a theme of “Love” throughout. I was relieved as I fear i am sometimes too bitter in my writing. But it is certainly true that love is an antidote to PTSD. And real love requires compassion and forgiveness. I have been praying for you and your husband so that love may permeate your lives. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

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