Oftentimes as married individuals, you are astonished at different characters or negative emotions exhibited by your spouses, which has left you with unanswered questions of how to resolve the outcome of the character exhibited as it has overtime overblown and has began to strain your marriage. Most of these negative emotions which has taken a toll on your marriage could stem from childhood trauma. Such as; physical abuse, sexual assault and rape, emotional or verbal abuse, war, parental divorce, bullying, domestic violence etc.
WHAT IS CHILD TRUAMA?
Child trauma are unpleasant experience or ill treatment a child is/was exposed to during his/her formative stage. These unpleasant experiences could affect children negatively and leave them traumatized, causing fear, insecurity, or even making them feel confused about life and its events as they grow older. Furthermore, child trauma could affect all areas of human development; spiritually, socially, emotionally, mentally, cognitively etc. and it could be very difficult to manage if not attended to as required.
The effect of traumatic experience on a spouse cannot be over-emphasized as its impacts begins with the traumatized spouse and extends to other aspect of your marriage; ranging from sexual, financial, emotional, parent-child relationship and so on. When you begin to notice the aforementioned impact on your spouse and marriage or you observe the the following- poor esteem, feeling of incapability, vulnerability to substances abuse, depression, lack of interest in sexual activities, isolation, insomnia, phobias etc.; then you need to help your spouse overcome the negative emotion being expressed.
HOW TO HELP YOUR SPOUSE OVERCOME CHILDHOOD TRAUMA
Helping your spouse overcome childhood trauma is not only beneficial to your spouse but impacts greatly on your marriage and family life. Therefore, there is the need to give attention to the ways by which you can help your spouse overcome childhood trauma in order to have a blissful marriage. Below are eight steps to helping your spouse overcome childhood trauma;
1. Identify symptoms exhibited by your partner:
Before you can ascertain that your partner is being traumatized, you have to patiently identify the symptoms exhibited by your spouse. For example, your partner might be responding negatively to your sexual touch or advances as a result of sexual assault from his/her childhood.
2. Encourage your spouse to identify and discuss the source of his/her trauma with you:
Every trauma has a source, therefore, you need to create time to listen to your spouse as he/she identifies and discusses the source of the trauma with you. Some traumatic experiences could be due to the following; loss of loved one, abuse ( emotional, physical, sexual etc.), bullying, dysfunctional family background, poor parent-child relationship, war, poverty, medical condition, divorce by parents etc.
3. Observe and identify the impact of the trauma on your spouse:
The impact of childhood trauma can be prolonged or short lived depending on the nature of the occurrence and how it is being handled. Some of the impact may include; unhealthy self-esteem, poor parent-child relationship, vulnerability to any form of abuse, sexual problems and so on. Identifying the impact of the trauma experienced will assist you in knowing how to give the right help to your spouse.
4. Help the traumatized spouse accept his or her present reality:
Traumatized spouses often live in denial of their real state; hence, it is expedient that you make effort in helping them to accept their present reality. This can be achieved by believing in your partner and helping him/her to get an assurance via your positive actions towards him/her. He/she will be open up to the present reality when you are willing to be present or supportive emotionally. This is important to the healing process because he/she might not know the gravity of the damage done to him/her. You should furthermore, assure him/her that you will be with them through out the process of their healing and ask how he/she thinks you can be of help.
5. Bridge emotional gap between you and your traumatized spouse:
Unresolved trauma could make your spouse to be withdrawn to himself/herself creating emotional gap between the two of you. Ensure to show your partner unconditional love and make him/her to feel accepted. You can do this by;
a). First understanding his/her love language; love language are ways by which one receive and give love to ones spouse. There are five love languages explained by Gary Chapman, which are – Words of Affirmation, Quality time, Gift, Act of Service and Physical Touch. Identifying the best way your spouse receives and gives love will enhance romance and acceptance in your marital relationship.
b). Paying attention to his/her needs; especially in the area of symptoms being identified in the previous step.
c). Practice openness and sincerity with your spouse; to be open means to lay everything bare before your spouse. That is, to have heart to heart communication about things pertinent to you.
6. Find out the triggers of your spouse negative emotions and help him/her to find healthy distraction:
Healthy distractions are positive activities or area of interest one enjoy doing. Identifying and discussing the triggers of your spouse emotional dysfunction, and also knowing him/her well enough to know his/her areas of interest and getting involved in them, could help him/her get distracted from the thoughts of the event or from any negative emotion earlier than expected.
7. Seek professional help:
- We all need support at one point in time or the other; professional help will provide the necessary skills and the strategies to go through challenges at different phases of life. Your spouse can be encouraged to seek professional help in order to assist him/her recover quickly by undergoing therapy.
8. Be patient with your spouse:
Patience with your spouse should find expression in your actions, choice of words and giving much time to listening over speaking. Learning to be patient with your partner during this process will help them practice the act of letting go of their traumatic negative emotions easily.