My Husband Blames His Infidelity On PTSD

It’s not uncommon for a husband caught in infidelity to try to come up with a reason or an excuse for his actions. Some excuses are frankly laughable. Others are painful. Some leave the wife wondering if they are valid and worth further exploration. One example of this is PTSD. Many husbands who have affairs are suffering emotionally and the affair is just an extension of this. Still, even if the wife accepts that the PTSD was a contributing factor, is it a valid excuse?

Someone might have a situation like this one, “my husband has been diagnosed with PTSD and he has finally agreed to seek treatment and to admit that this is a real problem. I think that the only reason he will seek counseling is because I caught him cheating on me and now he’s afraid that I’m going to leave him. Frankly, he is dependent on me for emotional support. He was in a bad car accident last year and has been struggling since that time. His personality changed quite a bit. Before the accident, my husband was very active and outgoing. Since the accident, he has become reclusive and introverted. He spends hours every day in a dark room playing video games. He met the other woman online. I’m shocked that he actually took it further so that it became a physical relationship, but it eventually did. Once my husband was caught, confronted, and could no longer deny it, he claimed that his PTSD contributed to the affair because he feels worthless and is just ‘walking through life.’ If I’m being honest. I agree with him that the PTSD could have contributed to this. I admit that his personality has changed. But these fact don’t make much of a difference to me. He still cheated. I am still left feeling hurt. I’m getting to the point where I’m asking myself if I still want to be his support system. I have been here for him and the thanks that I get is that he cheats on me? That doesn’t sound like a great deal to me. My husband is panicking at the thought of being alone. He says that he still loves me and he knows that I still love him. Perhaps that is true, but since his accident, it has been one bad event after another. Things have never gotten back to normal. He has now agreed to counseling for the PTSD, but he balks about counseling for the affair. He says if he cures the PTSD, there would be no need to worry about the affair. Is this even valid?”

I see his thought process, but I would not want to commit to a marriage where my partner wasn’t willing to work toward healing. Yes, it’s possible that his addressing the PTSD will address one risk factor toward his repeat cheating. And addressing his PTSD is a must. However, he can’t expect for your marriage to just heal on its own. He can’t expect for you to just be willing to pick up the pieces when he isn’t willing to get professional help in order to ease your mind about the potential for cheating in the future. I have been through infidelity and I’m not sure that our marriage would be where it is today without some third party, professional direction and self help resources. Healing doesn’t just magically happen on its own. Most people need help and guidance because the people inside of the affair don’t have the objectivity to heal it. They are in the middle of the storm and can’t possibly be objective.

I applaud your husband for agreeing to treat the PTSD. This is absolutely necessary because if he doesn’t treat that, then he’s more likely to cheat again, and frankly, to continue to struggle emotionally. He’s right that PTSD certainly contributes to risky behavior. But I honestly don’t think it’s prudent to stop at treating the PTSD only. Honestly, there are two issues here – the PTSD and your marriage. If you are only treating the PTSD, the marriage is still potentially floundering. I know that this probably seems like a lot of counseling or self help. And I know that the thought of this isn’t necessarily exciting, but neither is continuing to suffer and to be unhappy. If the person treating the PTSD also has experience with marital counseling, then part of each session could be spent on each topic. This would allow you to be involved with his PTSD treatment so that you could better support him. And it would give you more information about the health of your marriage and the possibility of saving it.

Deciding whether or not to walk away is a huge decision. For myself, I wanted as much information as I could get before I made that decision, which is why I did not rush it. We did do some counseling. We also did self help. On top of this, I watched and waited for a very long time before I made any commitment to my marriage. I basically told my husband that I would stay while we were trying to recover, but I wasn’t making any promises. He had to prove to me that my trust and faith wouldn’t be misplaced. And part of that was participating in any healing that I felt was necessary. Very few men are excited about the idea of more counseling, but in this case, there are several things going on, so counseling could help with both the PTSD and with your marriage. Plus, if you ultimately decided that the marriage just isn’t in your best interest, you will know that you tried and that your husband has a support system outside of yourself.

So while I agree that the PTSD could have contributed to the affair, it doesn’t excuse it.  Nor does it mean that the damage from the affair doesn’t need to be addressed.  That is why many specialists recommend  individual counseling for the contributing factors to the affair, as well as joint counseling to address the marital damage that the affair caused.  This isn’t a fun process, but until you get to the bottom of WHY your spouse acted in this way, you can’t have the confidence in your marriage that is going to be necessary to heal it.  The good news is that once you heal it, you can have some peace again.  At least that was my experience. There is more about our healing process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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