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My husband needs counseling - how do I get him there?

I should start off saying I understand 200% that I'm not going to get my husband into counseling, you can't make someone go if they don't want too so please be gentle with this post. Long story short, my husband is a veteran who now works in public service in a busy town with a lot of drug overdose and suicide calls. I think he has PTSD for many reasons I know I can't begin to understand including the calls he attends/things he sees on the job. He doesn't open up to me about them, I should be better about asking but I understand there may be a line he doesn't want me to know to not be scared 

Things are getting bad with him, he's very agitated and short tempered. He has a one track way of thinking and gets frustrated if he doesn't understand the way you asked a question (I know this is the military life) but it's frustrating because he doesn't give you the chance to re-phrase he just gets frustrated and mad. We had a bad fight last night after which he slept on the couch to avoid more fighting, honestly I don't think it should have ever come to the point that he was screaming. I tried very hard not to give into the fight as it was very late and I was trying to go to sleep. While I tried to communicate with him what was wrong it was late and nothing was going to get done to fix the issue. 


I haven't talked to him yet today, I left for work before we could talk and I'm glad to have the space, honestly I wish I had more time away because I'm still mad from what a stupid fight this was. I just need to know how I can approach the topic of him seeing a counselor. My reason is the fact that he got so mad last night, I really hope a counselor could help him see why this shouldn't have been such a big deal and how to better communicate with me to avoid a big fight. I think he just needs to let out some of whatever's going on. I understand that I could benefit from speaking with someone too, I know I have issues to work on, but with this attitude things will never get better if he doesn't seek help. I feel like me going to a counselor is just going to be "here's what he does, it's not different and I can't deal with it, how can I cope?"

The biggest problem with getting him to counseling is that he's old school military when you weren't encouraged to go to counseling. He often tells me that the records "aren't confidential" and it will "haunt him later", no matter how many times I explain HIPPA and Veteran's counseling he just says no he doesn't need it. His work doesn't encourage counseling, only if there is a big work related loss and even then they mail you letter with how to get an appointment. I don't even know how to approach the subject as I'm afraid I"m going to offend him when I know he's not doing anything wrong. I don't speak to any of the wives at his work to know if their husbands go to counseling, but all of the research I've done in support of wives in this field says they need to talk to someone who's not us.

I've seen a counselor in the past and I've had a lot of success. I'm very open to going again.  My husband tried counseling once when he came home from war (before I met him) but he had trouble sticking to an appointment as the counselor's wife was sick and kept cancelling appointments. Eventually he gave up instead of finding a different counselor on his own. My husband tried last year to meet with a counselor (again similiar issues as now to the point that I put my foot down and said you go talk to someone and then I will or else we're going to head in the direction of a divorce, it's that serious. He seemed to have a good relationship with the new counselor but only made 1 or 2 appointments. My husband's not good with sticking with things so he'll drop off once he's done what he said he'd do and the more I say you have to keep going (or just go in the first place) the more he stops doing it and gets mad that I push him. Help! 

Has anyone else dealt with this? How do you keep sane with these issues you can't control. yes I do things wrong but not everything is my fault and I promise I'm trying to understand that things are going on outside of my control. 

Thank you in advance for any help you can provide.

Re: My husband needs counseling - how do I get him there?

  • I work in mental health for the VA. You are absolutely right that you cannot make him go, but you can certainly educate yourself about what services are available and give him the info. If he served in This latest conflict he can get services through OEF/OIF office. Call your local VA and ask for the OEF/OIF social worker.
  • I think suggesting couples' counseling might be more persuasive.  If you are the one making the appointments and going with him, it seems like it would make him more likely to go and stick with it.

    Perhaps even phrase it like you have found counseling helpful, would like to see a counselor again, would like his support and help in going, plus it could help to improve communication between the two of you.  Maybe he will see it as less a blow to his ego if his motivation is to help you.

  • dutchgirl76dutchgirl76 member
    100 Love Its 100 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited August 2015
    Thank you for your advice, this is very helpful. We ended up having a long, and rather calm conversation last night after I got home. While everything isn't 100% I hope that we both understand the issue from the other night much better. I have to say that I'm happy with how the conversation went, I was anticipating something much worse.

    We  discussed marriage counseling a long time ago, however his schedule literally rotates every single week, every single year, night and day shifts. With this schedule we'd never be able to keep a consistent counseling schedule which I know counselors try to work around, but not everyone will do nights or Saturdays as I found when I tried individual counseling (my schedule's also a little weird) Weekends are even worse, he's gone before businesses open and gets home after they close, we'd be lucky to get one Saturday appointment every other month. It's not an excuse just another reason we fight and get so stressed, we can't physically see each other. I think that talking in a safe space would help, but I'm honestly so burnt out because I know if his schedule remains the same some issues will never change.

    I don't mean this to be a blow to him, I don't think counseling is a bad thing or anything you should be ashamed of doing, although you don't have to go around telling anyone you go either. I will begin to research options, I know there are more and more counselors trained specially in PTSD, and counselors who work with veterans and people in my husband's line of work. I'm trying to find support groups and outreach for wives with husbands in this line of work, it's just as hard on us but we can't say anything about how difficult it is or vent to anyone.
  • I am not sure of your religious background, and I'm not pushing this on you. I do know, though, that many pastors do work on Saturdays. They take their day off on another weekday. You may be able to find a pastor or church person to meet with on a Saturday. If things are that rough and he really needs to talk then that may work.

    Aside from this, I encourage you to find a male counselor whether its for him alone or for you both. Since he is military and "macho" (I say that in a kind way, just as a descriptor to sum up what you have already said about him), a man's perspective and male listening ear will probably be more well received by your DH. Even better would be if you can find a male veteran. I think men like feedback and advice from other men who have had similar experiences. The goal is fro him to feel good about the person - and if that means some one more like him, then encourage him in that direction.


    short+sassy
  • From the end of your OP, it sounds like he's not really opposed to counseling; it just sounds like the administration is getting in the way. I can completely understand that, because I hate booking/rescheduling appointments. Is this something you can/would do? How we he feel about that?
    image
  • He's not religious at all, I was raised with faith and will still attend church occasionally with my dad. I'd be open to faith based counseling but I know he won't do it, too head strong on the "I don't need religion" which can be sad. I think he'd be afraid too that the pastor/priest would push religion on us, not just a calming, neutral voice. I know this isn't true, many clergy folk just want to save your marriage and understand letting out your stresses can help.

    I do agree a male counselor would be better for him. The one he jived with last year was a man, I really wish he stuck with it because the few sessions he attended seemed to work really well. I had a male counselor once myself and he was pretty good, I think it's all the fit with the individual person.

    As far as scheduling appointments he's weird with that. He often has week days off so he will have to stay home for appointments or service items (plumber/car whatever) I see no sense in me taking a day off if he's already home. The problem is that  he won't let me schedule the appointments for when he's home, he likes to plan things himself, again I think it's Military. It's a point of contention with us, I think any wife has this issue, he doesn't book whatever appointment is necessary for a while I get nervous, nag and threaten to just book it myself until he gets mad. I try to stay calm, make to-do lists and leave it at that but time goes by and sometimes the appoint is necessary (snow tires, take the cat to the vet for it's shots) I tried working with a counselor on how to not stress so much and communicate with him that not taking care of things makes me anxious  last year but it didn't get me anywhere just the male stubborn I'll do it on my own time. Apparently "I shouldn't be so nervous, if I just left him alone he'd do it" to which I say "if you did it, I woudln't nag, I'd move on". I know I could just take a day off to handle it and maybe sometimes I should. Anyway I'm getting off topic.

    The only saving grace with his schedule is that he knows his schedule for the entire year on Jan 1 so we *could* book a Saturday appointment 2 months out assuming that the counselor is also free that day. With his work schedule to get a weekend day off it literally takes about 6 to 8 weeks of schedule rotation. Swaps are near impossible to get and other folks at his work won't agree to a swap until right before so we can't plan something on his work day and hope he'll be able to take it off later.

    Again thank you for your feedback, I'm glad to hear I'm not alone in the need to talk to someone.
  • I agree with the above that you should definitely make it as a marriage issue and less about him directly. You're clearly not intending it as a blow to the ego but in his mind that's how it can be interpreted. It also sounds like although he's tried counseling in the past he's also still resistant to it but not 'sticking' to appointments. Working on ourselves is not easy and it can be difficult to accept the issues we are struggling with, so he may be avoiding having to deal with it as much as he can. 

    Maybe you can find a counselor that is willing to alternate the session days depending on schedule? This isn't always possible but worth exploring with whomever your therapist would be. Hopefully having a heart to heart with him and maybe asking him how he feels the marriage is going, and express to him that you truly want to make this work and marriage counseling will help - will help him prioritize this. It may be helpful to pull from his own words and not just tell him what you think needs to happen (this can also make him defensive and resistant...even if you're right) Best of luck!
  • I should start off saying I understand 200% that I'm not going to get my husband into counseling, you can't make someone go if they don't want too so please be gentle with this post. Long story short, my husband is a veteran who now works in public service in a busy town with a lot of drug overdose and suicide calls. I think he has PTSD for many reasons I know I can't begin to understand including the calls he attends/things he sees on the job. He doesn't open up to me about them, I should be better about asking but I understand there may be a line he doesn't want me to know to not be scared 

    Things are getting bad with him, he's very agitated and short tempered. He has a one track way of thinking and gets frustrated if he doesn't understand the way you asked a question (I know this is the military life) but it's frustrating because he doesn't give you the chance to re-phrase he just gets frustrated and mad. We had a bad fight last night after which he slept on the couch to avoid more fighting, honestly I don't think it should have ever come to the point that he was screaming. I tried very hard not to give into the fight as it was very late and I was trying to go to sleep. While I tried to communicate with him what was wrong it was late and nothing was going to get done to fix the issue. 


    I haven't talked to him yet today, I left for work before we could talk and I'm glad to have the space, honestly I wish I had more time away because I'm still mad from what a stupid fight this was. I just need to know how I can approach the topic of him seeing a counselor. My reason is the fact that he got so mad last night, I really hope a counselor could help him see why this shouldn't have been such a big deal and how to better communicate with me to avoid a big fight. I think he just needs to let out some of whatever's going on. I understand that I could benefit from speaking with someone too, I know I have issues to work on, but with this attitude things will never get better if he doesn't seek help. I feel like me going to a counselor is just going to be "here's what he does, it's not different and I can't deal with it, how can I cope?"

    The biggest problem with getting him to counseling is that he's old school military when you weren't encouraged to go to counseling. He often tells me that the records "aren't confidential" and it will "haunt him later", no matter how many times I explain HIPPA and Veteran's counseling he just says no he doesn't need it. His work doesn't encourage counseling, only if there is a big work related loss and even then they mail you letter with how to get an appointment. I don't even know how to approach the subject as I'm afraid I"m going to offend him when I know he's not doing anything wrong. I don't speak to any of the wives at his work to know if their husbands go to counseling, but all of the research I've done in support of wives in this field says they need to talk to someone who's not us.

    I've seen a counselor in the past and I've had a lot of success. I'm very open to going again.  My husband tried counseling once when he came home from war (before I met him) but he had trouble sticking to an appointment as the counselor's wife was sick and kept cancelling appointments. Eventually he gave up instead of finding a different counselor on his own. My husband tried last year to meet with a counselor (again similiar issues as now to the point that I put my foot down and said you go talk to someone and then I will or else we're going to head in the direction of a divorce, it's that serious. He seemed to have a good relationship with the new counselor but only made 1 or 2 appointments. My husband's not good with sticking with things so he'll drop off once he's done what he said he'd do and the more I say you have to keep going (or just go in the first place) the more he stops doing it and gets mad that I push him. Help! 

    Has anyone else dealt with this? How do you keep sane with these issues you can't control. yes I do things wrong but not everything is my fault and I promise I'm trying to understand that things are going on outside of my control. 

    Thank you in advance for any help you can provide.
    A good place for him to start is the vet rep at your local unemployment office.

    I am sure your local unemployment office has a vet rep; they do in our state.

    A vet rep would be able to direct your H to the services he needs -- maybe the vet rep has an inside line on something  where your H would be able to get the help he needs, and quickly. 
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