Helping a spouse cope with past trauma may not be an easy undertaking for reasons such as the following:
- Your spouse has already made a previous decision to handle the trauma on his or her own and has not been successful
- Your spouse is attempting to ignore the trauma, although the trauma is still present in his or her life
- Your spouse is aware that there are counseling services available but has chosen not to explore these options
- Your spouse struggles with safety and trust issues as a result of the trauma
Helping Spouses Heal after Trauma
Ignoring or blocking out the pain of past trauma is not a healthy long-term solution. This strategy may only make matters worse, because the person who experienced the trauma feels he or she has attempted to resolve trauma and has failed.
When this vulnerable person adds frustration, feelings of failure and loss of hope to the already present challenges of past trauma, the situation becomes more complex and more difficult to recover from. A person with unaddressed emotions may find that problems arise and bring stress that he or she is unable to cope with.
How Can I Help My Spouse Cope with Past Trauma?
The best thing that you can do is to help your spouse is to emphasize the importance of getting professional help. Without learning how to effectively cope with past traumas, people can seriously impede their life personally and professionally.
You can expect to encounter the following when you approach your spouse about seeking counseling to deal with past trauma:
- Denial. Your spouse may deny that there is any reason for him or her to get counseling. When a person is in denial, you need to be patient but persistent in your efforts to help him or her understand that there is a problem.
- Inconvenience. Throwing up roadblocks is another strategy that your spouse may use to avoid getting the help that he or she needs. They may offer challenges such as, “Insurance does not cover counseling,” “I wouldn’t know where to begin to find a good counselor” or “When am I going to find time to meet with someone?” You may need to do some research and have ready answers for when these excuses arise.
- Confidentiality. Your spouse may worry about what would happen if others knew he or she was getting professional counseling help. There is a stigma attached to mental health issues, but getting professional help is the only way to get better. There is no shame in finding counseling for past trauma.