Being married to a veteran with PTSD isn’t always a smooth ride. My own marriage has been scarred by depression, secondary trauma, and alcoholism, but I’ll be honest with you: these problems weren’t always my husband’s fault. I dragged plenty of my own humanness into this relationship.
That being said, I love being a veteran’s spouse. This is why.
1. My Husband Is a Badass
My husband is a badass, and most people don’t even know it. When confrontation starts smoldering, he gets quiet and withdraws if he has the chance. People who don’t know him mistake this for fear, which is only partially true. He isn’t afraid of what other people will do. He’s afraid of what he could do.
2. I Feel Safe With Him
Being a veteran’s spouse makes me feel safe. I know how strong my husband’s hands are and how loyal his heart is. He knows how to protect the people he loves and is willing to do what it takes to make that happen. As long as he’s by my side, I’m going to be just fine.
3. He Refuses to Give Up On Me
This might be my favorite quality about my man, my warrior. Loyalty was a part of his training. Giving up on people isn’t an option. No matter what mistakes either of us makes or what messes life throws our way, he refuses to give up on me, which was all I ever wanted from a partner.
4. His Work Ethic is Astronomical
If there’s one thing my veteran can do, it’s work, and he isn’t done until the job is done. In fact, he’s been known to get a little addicted to a job, but of all the vices he could use to deal with his mental issues, employment is probably the healthiest (and most productive…and most profitable) addiction he could turn to.
5. He Keeps Life Interesting
My veteran is quirky, funny, and prone to (a lot of) accidents and emergencies. Sometimes it’s difficult to handle, but, my gosh, does it keep life interesting. If he were just a “normal” man, I’d get bored. I’d barely feel alive.
6. It’s His Duty to Do the Best He Can By His Family
My husband feels it’s his duty to do the best he can by me and his son, and he beats himself up if he feels he’s let us down in any way. For a veteran, a sense of duty is a serious matter, and I’m honored to be a part of that.
7. He Has Some Phenomenal Stories to Tell
Some of them are heartbreaking and will change the way you see the world. Some of them he would share with no one but me, but they’re all phenomenal stories: humorous, engaging tales that will make you feel something new. They’re stories worthy of being heard, and someday I hope he gets to a place where he can tell them.
8. He Knows How Precious Life Is
When my veteran was barely twenty years old, he almost died, and he’s been living on borrowed time ever since. Now he knows how precious that time is. He knows he is lucky to be alive and loved. Too many men he once knew never got that chance.
9. He Knows How to Have a Good Time
If there’s anything basic training will teach a kid, it’s how to have a good time. My veteran spouse likes to party and laugh and play games and crack jokes. People love being around him because they know they’re going to have a good time. He may have been through hell, but that man knows how to keep a smile on his face and laughter in his eyes.
10. He Knows He Isn’t Perfect
My veteran spouse isn’t one to degrade people because he knows he’s just as imperfect as the next guy. He doesn’t expect the house to be spotless or our son to be squeaky-clean or every dinner to come out edible. He knows we’re all just doing the best we can.
11. He Understands Shame
Just like everyone else, there are a few things I’ve done that I’m ashamed of, but my husband gets it. He doesn’t throw my sins in my face or hold them over my head. He understands more than anyone that human beings aren’t what they did in the past. They’re defined by what they’re trying to be right now.
12. He’s Grateful For Me
There’s one thing I can say for sure about my veteran: he’s grateful for me, and he isn’t afraid to tell me over, and over…and over. He knows what loneliness and isolation feel like. He’s been with women who couldn’t or wouldn’t even try to understand him, let alone learn how to live with his PTSD. When he found a woman who wanted to stick it out no matter what, he knew he lucky he got. And so did I.
13. People Respect Him
I love the way people look at my husband when they find out he was an infantryman in the Army. They respect him. I respect him because I know what he’s been through and what he continues to go through, yet every day he goes to work and comes home and does the best he can for the people who need him.
14. He’s Been Around the World
My veteran spouse has been all over the place. Not all the places he’s been to were particularly pleasant or hospitable, but he’s still been there. He’s had lots of experiences outside of war, too: flying first class, getting drunk in five-star hotels, gorging himself in classy, overpriced restaurants. You name it, he’s done it.
15. He’s Strong As Hell
My spouse is strong as hell. In the six years I’ve known him, I’ve watched him go through a lot, and I know life was tough for him long before I met him. Even though he’s been through shit most people could never imagine, he’s still the type of person you could make a list of 18 reasons why you love being married to him.
16. He’s Smart As Hell, Too
He might not always act like it (smart people tend to do that sometimes), but my husband is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. It’s not just the things he knows, though. It’s the way he thinks. The way he sees the world is funny and from a whole new perspective. For example, one autumn day I told him, “The leaves are turning,” so he said, “I can never tell if they’re turning left or right.”
17. We’ve Both Been Through A Lot
You already know my veteran spouse has been through a lot, but so have I. When you’ve witnessed and been victim to humanity’s darker side, you see the world differently. People I know who’ve lived sheltered lives don’t necessarily understand me. My man, though, he gets me.
18. He Follows Instructions
In the military, you either follow instructions, or you do more push-ups than you’ve ever done in your life. Needless to say, my veteran spouse learned to follow instructions (and did a lot of push-ups). All I have to do is tell him exactly what I need. Sometimes I have to get pretty exact–he’s ADHD, too–but if I let him know what I need from him, I know he’ll get it done.
The Good, the Bad, and Everything in Between
Being married means two flawed people have refused to give up on each other, and that’s the promise my husband and I have made to one another. Marriage also means putting up with someone else’s bullshit because you know he has so much more than his issues and imperfections to offer.
I’m a veteran’s spouse, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.