Become intentional about communication
Any marriage where communication isn’t happening will soon be in trouble. If a couple is intent on healing a hurting relationship, they must be willing to undertake the sometimes difficult works of talking things out.
Back Off: If your husband indicates that, “I just can’t deal with this now!” it’s okay to drop the subject. You may be getting too close to triggering deeper depression, rage reactions or even a dissociative state. Leave it alone for now and perhaps bring it up at some later date. Give him the grace and freedom not to respond if the subject upsets him too much.
Suicide Talk: Take any comments your husband might make about suicide seriously. If he mentions that he’s been thinking about “checking out,” or if he talks about how it would probably be easier on you (and the kids) if he wasn’t around anymore, or if you notice any unusual signs, urge him to seek professional help immediately. Left unaired, negative thoughts can quickly grow and develop into a full-blown suicide crisis.
What not to say: Do not say phrases like: “Get over it.” “Forget about the past; the past is past.” “Get a life.” Those words and phrases like those show a lack of understanding of Combat Trauma, shallow empathy, simplistic theology and in many cases, self-centeredness.
Humor him: Laughter can be a healing influence, give a broader perspective on life’s challenges and provide a sense of closeness and camaraderie. A cheerful heart is good medicine, it says in Proverbs 17:22.
Remind him: Remind him of his awesome survival skills and strengths. Those whom the military has trained to stay alive in the midst of combat are some of the most supremely adaptable and capable people on the planet. Communicate your confidence in him: Since he survived a war, he can surely triumph in this battle with Combat Trauma.
Include him: Include him in household decision-making processes. He may be having a hard time making decisions, but it will contribute to his feelings of uselessness if you make all the decisions alone and just inform him after-the-fact what they were.
Indulge him: Plan for ways to be sensitive to your loved one’s idiosyncrasies. For example, it is considerate to ask them where they would like to sit in a restaurant. Refrain from demanding that they go shopping at crowded malls. Do what you can to keep the kids from crawling on him too much. Do not take it personally if your loved one does not hug as much as you would like. If you give them space by understanding and respecting (their personal boundaries), hopefully they will draw closer in time.