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Can Couples Survive Trauma?

We are all aware in the media as well as  through personal contacts of relationships that seem to have failed in the aftermath of tragic loss, combat stress, natural disaster or trauma of some kind.  It makes us wonder -Can a couple survive trauma? Can they hold on to their bond in the face of  unimaginable pain and loss? The answer is “Yes” . While a couple’s relationship will often suffer the greatest blow in the aftermath of trauma – it can often be the greatest source of support, resilience and recovery. This is the theme of the blog ” Healing Together for Couples.”

Traumatic events are unexpected and unimagineable. They are those moments in life that no one sees coming.  They are frightening  and often overwhelming.They can make us question ourselves, other people, even God. ” How did this happen?” Traumatic events affect relationships because they rob partners of their sense of safety and trust. They alter what was familiar.   Whether the trauma has happened to one or both partners, the relationship often becomes shaken.When a partner is hurt, grieving, having nightnares, too angry to speak or too sad to hope both partners struggle and suffer. For a time they seem unable to find the ” we” they once were.

After working with couples for years, we found that when couples understand the nature of trauma and its impact on them, when they are able to make meaning of what they are experiencing,learn new strategies, remember their resiliencies, they are bettter able to cope and heal as individuals and as a couple.

Recovery after trauma is a process. It is the journey that you never expected to take.  Empowering yourself by understanding what has happened is the crucial first step in this journey. For now start by remembering – you have traveled together before. Yes you may fight along the way, you may get lost, you may even wonder if you should keep going – but if there are rest stops, food for body and mind,  a little music, some unexpected laughter, you will  find the strength and strategies to stay connected  –  you will find the road for healing together.

Can Couples Survive Trauma?

Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP

Suzanne B. Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP is a licensed psychologist. She is Adjunct Professor of Clinical Psychology in the Doctoral Program of Long Island University and on the faculty of the Post-Doctoral Programs of the Derner Institute of Adelphi University. Suzanne Phillips, PsyD and Dianne Kane are the authors of Healing Together: A Couple's Guide to Coping with Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress. Learn more about their work at couplesaftertrauma.com . Visit Suzanne's Facebook Page HERE.

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APA Reference
Phillips, S. (2017). Can Couples Survive Trauma?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 20, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/healing-together/2009/09/can-couples-survive-trauma/


Last updated: 26 Jul 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 26 Jul 2017
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.