Dr. Suzanne Phillips is a psychologist, author, blogger and media consultant covering a wide range of psychological topics.

 

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Trauma can affect an intimate relationship in many ways. The fear, distrust, and alienation that trauma survivors often feel has an obvious affect on any close relationship, but especially the relationship to their partner or spouse. Insomnia, nightmares, changes in drinking or drug use, anxiety, depression, changes in communication, loss of interest in sex, and an increase in hostility and anger can all combine to make the partner of the trauma survivor feel pushed away, attacked, or confused.

If both partners experienced the trauma, it can be difficult for the partners to support each other in healing when they are struggling with their own loss or grief. This book is targeted to the couple where either one or both of the partners have experienced recent trauma, and encourages couples to see their relationship as one of the strongest resources at their disposal in healing from the trauma. Research shows that the most common forms of trauma are witnessing someone being badly injured or killed, being involved in a fire, flood, or natural disaster, being involved in a life-threatening accident, and combat exposure. Other traumas may include serious health problems, the death or injury of a loved one, or being the victim of a crime. The authors developed a program that they conducted with over 400 couples within the New York City Fire Department, designed to help the firefighters and their partners cope with the aftermath of 9/11, especially as the trauma affected their intimate relationships. This book expands upon that experience in recognizing the potential of couples and guiding them in coping with trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder. The format is designed for use by civilian, police, firefighter and military couples who have experienced any sort of trauma.