Saturday, November 2, 2013


Intimacy is a touchy topic for most of us, but it becomes especially tricky in relationships involving PTSD, TBI, and assorted illnesses and injuries.  Some barriers to intimacy may include impotency due to depression, medications, or injury, decreased libido, low testosterone, or on the other side of the spectrum an increased sex drive or “hypersexuality.”   Decreased energy and libido in caregivers due to stress and fatigue from the demands of caregiving, along with health issues associated with caregiving also play a role.   Lack of day to day hugging and kissing and other affection due to isolating behaviors of PTSD, pornography addictions, infidelity (both may be related to seeking an adrenaline rush, or trying to feel “alive”).  Caregivers also report that lack of regular affection make it difficult for them to be sexually intimate with their spouse who feels like a stranger and have related the interactions to feeling as if they are being raped.

So it’s no small thing when an intimate moment arises in our house.  In fact, it’s something that only occurs every 9-12 months and is normally an isolated event.  The other night my husband pulled me close and whispered that he loved me and missed me.  At first, I was hesitant. “Just lie close to me.  Hold my hand.”  My heart and my head struggled to catch up.  In his eyes I saw HIM and in his voice I heard HIM.  This man next to me was my husband—the one I remember from the years before war ravaged his body and mind.

Yet I was scared, unsure.  I had to work to keep my brain focused on who he was at that moment, instead of letting uncertainty and discomfort take over.  It feels odd to find my husband a stranger, his touch foreign. These are normally the times where I may need to “check out” and make mental grocery or to-do lists, when I just cannot relax.  But this time, as I lay with my head on his shoulder and listened to his voice I felt comforted.  Loved.  Oh, how I've missed you!

In the morning, he was gone.  In his place was the regular guy, the one who is distant, and angry.  Silent, emotions suppressed.  The shell of my husband. I wanted to shake him and scream, “Where did you go?”  “It’s not fair!”

I crave a glimpse, an hour, a day when my husband is the man I remember.  But when that wish is granted I’m left sad and hurting...  Overwhelming loneliness takes over for months where hugs and kisses are few and far between, and perfunctory at best.   I build walls to keep my emotions at bay as well.  I wonder if it’s better to have a taste from time to time, or none at all.

I will continue to search for the man I love while simultaneously searching to know this new man in my life, hopefully to find a bridge between the two.

Submitted By: Anonymous


  1. I read this and felt as if I could have written this myself, however I am new to PTSD. I met my guy this summer and he was so charming and completely swept me off my feet. I fell completely head over heels in love with him even though I could see there was something different about him. He was just very direct and knew what he wanted and didn't want and I liked that. Once I told him I loved him, everything went downhill. We've been intimate maybe 6-7 times in the last 4 months (he's only 36) and in the beginning he was affectionate, but that soon stopped. Now he is distant afterwards, lying with his back to me as far away as possible. I feel so hurt, but I am completely in love with him and am stuck. He is a wonderful man. He is a single father. He is very responsible, keeps a cleaner house that I do. He can be so funny and playful at times. I feel he is everything that I am not. It makes me sad to read stories like yours, because I feel like this is how we will be forever. He refuses any medication or therapy. He always makes a different excuse for why we don't make love, i.e., pain, stress, etc. He did recently get some VERY SHOCKING news that will affect him for a long time, both financially and emotionally, so I have been really trying to not take his lack of affection and his distancing too personally. I speak to his mother frequently, who keeps reminding me that it is "his PTSD" and to just hang in there. It is so hard because he has told me he loves me only twice and the last time was months ago. I don't even know if he does still love me or not except for a few times I have stated to him that I felt that he doesn't love me and he gets upset, stating things like "I have opened up to you more than anyone else, that should tell you something." and "That's not fair". He has never come out and said that he doesn't love me, but he pushes me almost completely away every 3-4 weeks. The last time we split up, I left because we had not had sex in over 3 weeks and I found that he had been renting porn only hours after I had left his house to go to work. (we don't live together, but are neighbors so I was staying there pretty regularly.) I freaked out on him and left. Later I regretted it because I realized I had done exactly what he had said he feared. That I would leave him because of his BS and mood swings. I told him I never would, and then I did. Now, I feel we are even further apart than before and I am devastated. We have been spending time together, but it is more like we're just friends. I'll take it, sadly. Thanks for posting your story. It does help me to keep my chin up, but at the same time, I'm scared that we are not going to make it.

  2. I commend you for sharing this. Intimacy, or lack thereof, is a issue my husband and I still struggle with daily, even after four years of marriage. Being that we have three children it might sound odd that we struggle with this, but my husband's emotions are never in between. Either he is hypersexual, or most often completely detached. Last night, he affectionately touched my back in the middle of the night and I stiffed for a moment. I wasn't sure how to react, or how he expected me to react. If I turned over and held him would be withdraw again because I'd invaded his space, or embrace me? Did I want to risk falling asleep in tears, or waking tomorrow knowing that he was going to be withdrawn again? This is an issue that affects many spouses of veterans, tears marriages apart, and is seldom mentioned. Thanks for being honest about it. It's often glazed over, or forgotten about in the myriad of other symptoms that post traumatic stress disorder can cause.

  3. You're not alone. I recommend EMDR therapy for the PTSD sufferer. And counseling for the support spouse/significant other even if they won't goo with you. I really hope it gets better for all of you.

  4. I have tears streaming down my face because everything I can not put into words all of you other women do. I wish I had someone to understand me to tell me everything will be ok. But the reality is it won't be, it never will be.

  5. My heart is breaking for you. I can relate on many levels.

  6. It is a one of the handy article which is very essential for me as well. I must follow the content and must follow the article. keep it up....PTSD