This study examines the lives of wives who are living with former combat soldiers with chronic PTSD, from the subjective perspective of the wives themselves. Structured interviews with 20 wives indicated the following main results: 1) About 2/3 of the wives reported that, for a long time, they did not know what the problem with their husband was and had no idea that it was connected to his military experience. 2) All of the wives described many negative effects of their husband’s situation on daily family functioning. In most cases, the wives described their husbands as handicapped individuals who could do very few things that are usually associated with normal family functioning. 3) Most wives described their husbands as “absent-present”: The husband was present physically but would often detach himself from everyone around him. 4) Most wives reported suffering from anxieties of all kinds and other symptoms, which also characterized their husbands. Study results are discussed in light of relevant theories.
Andrews, B., Brewin, C. R., Stewart, L., Philpott, R., & Hejdenberg, J. (2009). Comparison of immediate-onset and delayed-onse posttraumatic stress disorder in military veterans. Journal of Abnomal Psychology, 1118, 767-777. doi:10.1037/a0017203
Ben Arzi, N., Solomon, Z., & Dekel, R. (2000). Secondary traumatization among wives of PTSD and post-concussion casualties: Distress, caregiver burden and psychological separation. Brain Injury, 14, 725-736. doi:10.1080/026990500413759
Benyamini, Y., Ein-Dor, T., Ginzburg, K., & Solomon, Z. (2009). Trajectories of self-rated health among veterans: A latent growth curve analysis of the impact of posttraumatic symptoms. Psychosomatic Medicine, 71, 345-352. doi:10.1097/PSY.0b013e31819ccd10
Benyamini, Y., & Solomon, Z. (2005). Combat stress reaction, posttraumatic stress disorder, cumulative life stress, and physical heath among Israeli veterans twenty years after exposure to combat. Social Science & Medicine, 61, 1267-1277.
Bonanno, G. A. (2004). Loss, trauma, and human resiliece: Have we underestimated the human capacity to thrive after extremely aversive events? American Psychologist, 59, 20-28.
Bramsen, I., Van der Ploeg, H. M., & Twisk, J. W. R (2002). Secondary traumatization in Dutch couples of World War II Survivors. Journal of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, 70, 241-245.
Bronfenbrenner, U. (2005). Child care in the Anglo-Saxon mode. In U. Bronfenbrenner (Ed.), Makinghuman being human: Bioecological perspectives on human development. (pp. 274-282). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Cohen, E., Zerach, G., & Solomon, Z. (2011).The implication of combat-induced stress reaction, PTSD, and attachment in parenting among war veterans. Journal of Family Psychology, 25, 688-698.
Dekel, R. (2007). Posttraumatic distress and growth among wives of prisoners of war: The contribution of husbands’ posttraumatic stress disorder and wives’ own attachment. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 77, 419-426. doi:10.1037/0002-94126.96.36.1999
Dekel, R., & Solomon, Z. (2006). Secondary traumatization among wives of Israeli POWs: The role of POWs’ distress. Social Psychiatry & Psychiatric Epidemiology, 41, 27-33.
Dirkzwager, A. J. E., Bramsen, I., Ader, H., & van der Ploge, H. M. (2005). Secondary traumatization in partners and parents of Dutch peacekeeping soldiers. Journal of family Psychology, 19, 217-226.
Ein-Dor, T., Doron, G., Mikulincer, M., Solomon, Z., & Shaver, P. R. (2010). Together in pain: Attachment-related dyadic processes and posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 57, 317-327. doi:10.1037/a0019500
Evans, L., McHugh, T., Hopwood, M., & Watt, C. (2003). Chronic posttraumatic stress disorder and family functioning of Vietnam veterans and their partners. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 37, 765-772. doi:10.1080/j.1440-1614.2003.01267.x
Everson, R. B., & Figley, C. R. (2011). The long way home: The aftermath of war for service members and their families. In R. B. Everson, & C. R. Figley. Families under fire: Systemic therapy with military families (pp. 277-286). New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.
Figley, C. R. (1983). Catastrophes: An overview of family reactions. In C. R. Figley & H. I. McCubbin (Eds.), Stress and the Family, Vol. II: Coping with catastrophe (pp. 3-20). New York: Brunner/Mazel.
Galovski, T., & Lyons, J. A. (2004). Psychological sequelae of combat violence: A review of the impact of PTSD on the veteran’s family and possible interventions. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 9, 477-501. doi:10.1016/S1359-1789(03)00045-4
Gold, J. I., Taft, C. T., Keehn, M. G., King, D. W., King, L. A., & Samper, R. E. (2007). PTSD symptom severity and family adjustment among female Vietnam veterans. Military Psychology, 19, 71-81. doi:10.1080/08995600701323368
Hendrix, C. C., Erdmann, M. A., & Briggs, K. (1998). Impact of Vietnam veterans’ arousal and avoidance on spouses’ perceptions of family life. American Journal of Family Therapy, 26, 115-128.
Hobfoll, S. E. (2001). The influence of culture, community, and the nested-self in the stress process: Advancing conservation of resources theory. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 50, 337-421. doi:10.1111/1464-0597.00062
Jones, D. K., Evenson, K. R., Rodriguez, D. A., & Aytur, S. A. (2010). Addressing pedestrian safety: A content analysis of pedestrian master plans in North Carolina. Traffic Injury Prevention, 11, 57-65.
Magruder, K. M., & Yeager, D. E. (2009).The prevalence of PTSD across war eras and the effect of deployment on PTSD: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychiatric Annals, 39, 778-788.
McCubbin, H. I., Boss, P., Wilson, L., & Lester, G. (1980). Developing family invulnerability to stress: Coping patterns and strategies wives employ in managing family separations. In J. Trost (Ed.), The family in change (pp. 379-405). Visteras: International Library.
McCubbin, H. I., & Patterson, J. (1982). Self Reliance Index (SRI). In H. I. McCubbin, A. I. Thompson, & M. A. McCubbin, Family assessment: Resiliency coping and Adaptation-Inventories for research and practice (pp. 625-637). Madison: University of Wisconsin System.
Pennebaker, J. W., & Seagal, J. D. (1999). Forming a story: The health benefits of narrative. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 55, 1243-1254.
Ray, S., & Nanstone, M. (2009). The impact of PTSD on veterans’ family relationships: An interpretative phenomenological inquiry. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 46, 838-847.
Renshaw, K. D., & Campbell, S. B. (2011).Combat veterans’ symptoms of PTSD and partners’ distress: The role of partners’ perceptions of veterans’ deployment experiences. Journal of Family Psychology, 10, 953-962. doi:10.1037/a0025871
Renshaw, K. D., Blais, R. K., & Caska, C. M. (2011). Distress in spouses of combat veterans: The importance of interpersonally based cognitions and behaviors. In S. MacDermid Wadsworth, & D. Riggs (Eds.), Risk and resilience in US military families (pp. 69-84). New York: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-1-4419-7064-0_4
Renshaw, K. D., Rhoades, G. K., Allen, E. S., Blais, R. K., Markman, H. J., & Stanley, S. M., (2011). Distress in spouses of service members with symptoms of combat-related PTSD: Secondary traumatic stress or general psychological distress. Journal of Family Psychology, 25, 461-469. doi:10.1037/a0023994
Riggs, D. S., Byrne, C. A., Weathers, F. W., & Litz, B. T. (1998). The quality of the intimate relationships of male Vietnam veterans: Problems associated with posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 11, 87-101. doi:10.1023/A:1024409200155
Smid, G. E., Mooren, T. T., van der Mast, R. C., Gersons, B. P., & Kleber, R. (2009). Delayed posttraumatic stress disorder: Systematic review, meta-analysis, and met-regressions analysis of prospective studies. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 70, 1572-1582.
Solomon, Z., Debby-Aharon, S., Zerach, G., & Horesh, D. (2011). Marital adjustment, parental functioning, and emotional shring in war veterans. Journal of Family Issues, 32, 127-147.
Solomon, Z., Horesh, D., & Ein-Dor, T. (2009). The longitudinal course of posttraumatic stress disorder symptom clusters among war veterans. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 70, 837-840.
Taft, C. T., Schumm, J. A., Panuzio, J., & Proctor, S. P. (2008). An examination of family adjustment among operation desert storm veterans. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76, 648-656.
Walsh, F. (2011). Family resilience: A collaborative approach in response to stressful life events. In S. M. Southwick, D. Charney, M. J. Friedman (Eds.). Resilience and mental health: Challenges across the lifespan (pp. 149-161). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Waysman, M., Mikulincer, M., Solomon, Z., & Weisenberg, M. (1993). Secondary traumatization among wives of posttraumatic combat veteran: A family typology. Journal of Family Psychology, 7, 104-118.