I’m sure you have a variety of chumps who were military spouses. I’m curious about whether or not any of them got the rationale that “I have PTSD and a traumatic brain injury, so I feel no empathy and don’t have any way to feel bad for what I was doing.”
That was what I was told. My husband of 10 years cheated on me for 7 of them. With (as far as he’s admitted) 3 different women. One was a wife of a friend of his and the other two were single females he worked with. I had an intuitive feeling about number 1 from the get go. And he just held fast to his lies. I went with his stories until I found out about number 3 when I FINALLY had tangible proof. And then he lied about contacting her some more until I left him in the house with no furniture and told him to get therapy, spiritual guidance, and stop drinking.
He quits drinking and confesses about all three (the gift of yet another D-day — I have truly lost count) and starts counseling. His therapist tells him it’s not uncommon for men who have been to combat to cheat on their spouses when they have PTSD. He told him that his brain can’t help it because of the damage to his emotional systems. I’m a therapist myself — makes it more pathetic I know — and I’ve never studied such a thing. In fact I am very familiar with interpersonal neurobiology and that theory is in no textbook I have ever seen. Nonetheless as soon as he was told that by Wondershrink, he was elated and decided he and I should try to reconcile. Fast forward a year later and here I am looking for a job so I can leave this sack of shit.
Why? Because I’m a chump. I believed after he stopped drinking (every time he cheated he was sober, btw) things could be better. We have three kids and I was afraid to break their hearts by kicking their dad out. Especially when I saw how devastating it was when I moved out with them the first time. Now, he smokes pot. Every day. Doesn’t drink though, and of course the pot helps him with his PTSD so I should allow that because if I don’t, he might cheat again given his brain damage from PTSD. Also he quit counseling because it’s a waste of time and he would rather be at home spending time with me. The spiritual guidance? All his friends are ex army and/or potheads. Not a single friend in our church who could offer spiritual support because he has trouble making friends (because of the PTSD).
So here’s what my idiot chump brain says to me sometimes:
Well PTSD does cause a lot of damage. TBI is brain damage. He’s not a violent drunk anymore. You’ll be broke if you leave now. You have to have a better paying job and zero debt first. Things are so peaceful between you — you could pretend to love him for awhile until you get yourself situated financially. He’s not cheating now. You don’t even care about him what difference does it make if you stay married…. honestly I could go on and on.
I didn’t want to be a rambler. But here this is, getting stupid long. Anyway, the question I have is whether or not other milspouses have written to you with the PTSD excuse? AM I the insensitive clinician he makes me out to be for not empathizing with his “condition” (for which he gets no help, besides the pot)?
I know the answer. I really do. I just need to know I’m not alone and that my bullshitometer is still fully operational.
Thanks in advance,
PS. In case you need a laugh today, girlfriend #3 contacts me. Drunk texts about how sorry she is, we should be friends, he’s a shitbag, etc. She follows me on Instagram and recently asked me if she could come visit me (across the country). I don’t have a clue what to make of that nonsense. I tell her she needs Jesus and send her photos of scripture. I’m not a saint. And I’m not as deep into my bible as I would like to be. But I figure sending her to God through the Bible is better than sending her to meet her maker any other way. No. I’m not threatening anyone. I’m making a joke.
Wow. I know you’re a professional skein untangler, but that’s some pretty knotted bullshit you’ve gotten yourself into there. Out of this entire letter not ONCE did you ask yourself ANYWHERE if this relationship was acceptable to YOU.
Think about that.
This guy cheats on you with three different women, drinks too much, swaps that addiction for another (mostly illegal) one and tells you flat out that he doesn’t have any ability to feel bad about his actions. And your reaction here is….? To wonder if his brain “damage” gets him a cheater get-out-of-jail free card?
Not — can I stay with a man who is harming me? Not — should I continue to expose my children to addiction and dysfunction?
I can’t really say if your husband has PTSD or not. I can’t say if men with PTSD are more likely to cheat on their spouses or not. Let’s say they’re more likely to get into irrational rages and hit you — would you stay with that? Or would you see the harm in it and run the hell away? Sure, it’s tragic that sacrifice for your country can leave you with a scrambled brain. That doesn’t mean you have to stick around and become collateral damage.
So if you leave him, what? You’re not a patriot? You fail to understand his service?
He’s not a violent drunk anymore.
No. He’s a zoned out pothead who refuses to take responsibility for his behavior or feel one bit bad about it. What exactly do you think you have to work with here? How itty bitty are you going to make your needs? Exactly how low have you set the bar? Not a violent drunk? That is pretty fucking low. And his reaction to this gift of sticking by him, and evaporating your needs is what? Getting all the mental health benefits afforded those in military service?
NO. He isn’t doing that.
Moreover, he’s not-so-subtly threatening you that if you insist on accountability, he will cheat. Wow, isn’t it crazy how that PTSD brain works? A blow to the head can give you manipulation superpowers!
Please see a lawyer. You’re not insensitive, you’re chumpy. It’s curable. Many people have left cheaters without achieving zero debt. (Way to set the bar really high on yourself, by the way. But not so high on him?) Make a plan, reach out for support, and save yourself.
And P.S. Dump Wondershrink too while you’re at it.