Healing as a Couple After a PTSD Episode

A pack of cards. So simple, so unassuming. Build a house of cards, and the merest breath can bring it tumbling down. You’d be right in thinking they hold little power. Yet played the right way, a deck of cards can build a bridge that may help lift a marriage.

8:00pm. Kids all asleep. Kitchen cleaned up. Lunch boxes washed and re-packed. No load of laundry to hang out. I walked into the lounge room with a cup of tea, ready to sit down finally.

“Would you like a game of cards tonight?”

With a hesitant tone, this humble gesture my husband offered spoke of a thousand silent sorries. I paused at the question, still reeling from the lingering pain and anger of only a few days earlier. Still desperately wanting to shut him out of my emotional safety bubble until I felt stronger. Wiser. But he was trying.

“Okay,” I slowly replied, knowing there was no need to elaborate. We know each other too well.  I’m not quite ready to forgive, but know that I recognise and appreciate your effort.

The evenings when my husband stays home can often leave me more lonely. With a screen and headphones, he quickly retreats into his online universe, shutting out the real world in an attempt to quieten his thoughts. It offers him distraction and distance. It offers him solitude. I leave him to it, it’s all he wants.

But when I looked, the screen was not on. The headphones were not patiently waiting. And, surprisingly, our little deck of cards became a bridge that night, over which my husband reached out his hand to me. A lot of water has passed under that bridge, a lot of turbulent and muddy water. And so I carefully chose to keep my eyes away from its murky depths as I took his hand.

We had to think hard to remember the games we used to play. But, little by little, as the cards were dealt, the tension began to drift away. And before long I found our conversation as warming as my tea.

For an hour or two we sat contentedly, on our little bridge of cards, both savouring the momentarily tranquil waters below. Water calm enough to reflect back the two laughing faces of a couple desperately trying to ignore any thoughts of when then next storm will brew.

 

(original post published 9th June 2016)

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