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Average divorce rates in most Western countries hover around the 50% mark, however the divorce rate for PTSD relationships may climb alarmingly to around 70%.

Yes, you read that correctly. Only about 3 out of 10 marriages will survive long-term once PTSD enters the relationship.

Disheartening, to say the least.

But when you consider that many cases of PTSD go undiagnosed, and that rates of divorce do not include de facto or other relationship types, then accurate statistics of any kind are virtually impossible to calculate.

And divorce only tells part of the story. It’s really only the tip of the iceberg. Do we honestly assume the remaining 30% of these marriages happy and healthy amidst the challenges of PTSD?

The damage that PTSD can wreak on relationships can be extensive, especially when help and support is not available or accessed.

And many of us will struggle through, barely uttering a word.


What first comes to mind when you think of PTSD relationships?

It’s likely to be the type you’re already involved in. Or perhaps you’re automatically assuming, because of all this talk of divorce rates, that a discussion on PTSD relationships is only relevant if a couple is married?

Wrong. PTSD relationships take many different forms, and all have their own unique obstacles.

Read on to see where your relationships fits:


Whether your partner was diagnosed with PTSD before you met or after, committing to a ‘forever after’ as a PTSD spouse can change the dynamics of your marriage. Many spouses will benefit from seeking their own support network and building their knowledge about post traumatic stress disorder.


Similar to a married couple but with one key distinction. Those who encounter PTSD during their engagement may be more likely to question whether they’re ready to commit to a partner with PTSD. The partner may or may not be accepting of their PTSD diagnosis or receiving treatment, making the future uncertain.


More casual PTSD relationships, and those still in the early stages, will usually be somewhat buffered from the full effects of PTSD. The person with PTSD will often try to push aside their worst symptoms for the sake of the budding relationship. And the early ‘honeymoon effect’ also helps to overshadow most of the confronting signs of post traumatic stress.

Ex (with children)

Your intimate relationship may have ended, either before or after your partner’s PTSD diagnosis. But with children to consider you still need to maintain an ongoing effective relationship with your ex partner. Your children will also need guidance and support in navigating their own relationships with their PTSD parent.

Ex (without children)

Generally more straight forward than a PTSD relationship that breaks down when children are involved. There still may be mutual friends, colleagues and social groups to negotiate if you have separated from your partner with PTSD. There may also be shared property or investments to work through together.


Depending on the cause, those who have a parent with PTSD may likely not have any memory of their parent without a psychological injury. Their parent’s PTSD symptoms will be viewed as normal personality traits. Younger children are at risk of blaming themselves for their parent’s PTSD symptoms and episodes. Adolescents may struggle against their boundaries. And once grown, adults may seek their own support and gain more awareness of their parent’s PTSD.


Your child with PTSD may still actually be in their childhood or they may already be a grown adult themselves. With children and adolescents, your role as their parent is to not only love and support them unconditionally, but to ensure they have regular access to the best professional support. For adult children, your role will still be one of love and support.


Sibling relationships vary greatly, not only family to family but also due to differences in gender and age. A person with PTSD may lean heavily on a close sibling for support, or possibly not even disclose their diagnosis with an estranged sibling. With limited information, a sibling with PTSD may display symptoms that could be taken out of context and damage the relationship even further.

Extended family

Extended family encompasses all those who are often, but not always, slightly more removed from the day to day issues of PTSD relationships. Examples include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles and cousins. The amount of information offered by the individual about their PTSD will ultimately determine the effects on this PTSD relationship.


As with any PTSD relationship, a platonic friendship can encounter issues when a person is struggling with PTSD. The support and compassion offered may differ depending on the genders involved. And some PTSD problems, such as alcohol abuse, may be difficult to navigate in certain friendships, particularly those between men.

Stay tuned for our next installment where we are covering key issues of PTSD and Relationships!!

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