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PTSD + Relationships = Challenges

Updated: Jul 5, 2022

A new study by the University of Houston examined the link between PTSD symptoms and couple relationships. This study confirmed (what we already know) that first responders exposed to repeated traumatic events throughout their careers places them at greater risk for the development of post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Additionally, PTSD typically harms the intimate relationships of our first responders.

PTSD damages couple intimacy, as sufferers have emotion regulation difficulties and a heightened fear of being controlled by their domestic partners. These symptoms lead to the PTSD sufferer avoiding closeness with their marriage or relationship. Conversely, the sufferers’ partners reported a perception that their first responder domestic partner is unwilling to have meaningful emotional dialogues with them. As a first responder and PTSD sufferer myself, I can confirm the authenticity of this research.

I believe our best approach to improving this problem and lowering divorce rate—which also leads to significant financial hardships—lies in educating both the first responder and their partners about this information. Couples also need to understand that relationship counseling is about providing partners with the tools they need to work through these various issues, not about referring fights or deciding who is right or wrong.

Fire and police departments also have a vested interest in encouraging education and counseling, given the extreme disruptions divorces creates reference job performance. Many times I have seen PTSD combined with divorce entirely destroy careers, not to mention lead to employee suicide.

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Link to University of Houston study:

~ Larry Faulkner

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