How to Cope With Trauma: Handling it Together as a Couple

Hello there,

It was during an unusually cold winter evening that I first met Jenny and Dave.

They stepped into my office, fingers interlocked, a unified front.

They weren’t my usual couples seeking help for communication or intimacy issues. They were here because they’d faced a traumatic event that rocked their world.

And it’s their story, along with others, that inspired me to write this post.

Trauma shatters assumptions.

Imagine you were going to stand up, you’d assume the floor was going to support you.

But when you experience trauma, it’s like you go to stand up and instead of the floor supporting your weight, you fall through the floor and you put your hand out to steady yourself against the wall, but your arm passes straight through and you’re in free fall.

Afterwards you’re left trying to stitch together the torn fabric of your reality.

It’s challenging.

It’s raw.

And above all it feels isolating.

But guess what?

If you’re in a relationship, you don’t have to face it alone (unless of course, your partner is the cause of the trauma. If that’s your situation see this post: Recovering from an affair.

Here are 8 ideas to help you and your partner cope with trauma.

1. Acknowledge the Trauma

First off, know that it’s okay to say, “We’re going through something big.” Admitting it is the first step towards healing. Pretending it didn’t happen? That’s like trying to plug a leaking pipe with a piece of chewing gum—it’s a temporary fix that just won’t hold.

2. Create a Safe Space

Remember when you first started dating and you had those long late-night talks? Now’s the time to bring back those moments. Sit down, away from distractions. This is your time. Listen, validate, and share. No judgment allowed.

3. Set Boundaries

When I suggested to Jenny and Dave that they set a “no trauma talk” day once a week, Dave was skeptical. “Marcus, aren’t we supposed to be talking about this?” Yes, but you also need time to remember you’re a couple, not just trauma survivors. Set boundaries and give yourselves permission to just be “you” for a while.

4. Seek Professional Help

While you’ve got each other, sometimes, having a third perspective can do wonders. Like Jenny and Dave, turning to a professional can help you navigate the muddy waters of trauma. I mean, would you try to fix a broken pipe without calling a plumber?

5. Rediscover Intimacy

Trauma can place a strain on intimacy. And I’m not just talking about the physical aspect. Emotional intimacy often takes a hit too. Engage in activities that bring you closer. Whether it’s a dance class, cooking together, or simply taking long walks—find what lights that spark again.

6. Build Resilience

You might think of resilience as this inborn trait, but it’s something you can actively develop. Engage in self-care routines, practice mindfulness, and remind yourself of past challenges you’ve overcome. You’ve got this. Together.

7. Celebrate Small Wins

The road to recovery is paved with little victories. Did you have a good day? Celebrate it. Did your partner show progress? Applaud them. These are the moments that, when stitched together, weave the fabric of your renewed relationship.

8. Involve Your Community

You don’t have to go through this alone. If you’ve got friends, family, or even a local support group—lean on them. Let them remind you of the strength of your bond.

In Conclusion…

As we wrapped up one of our last sessions, Dave leaned over and whispered something to Jenny. They both chuckled—a sound I hadn’t heard in our early meetings. That’s the thing about trauma; it might feel all-consuming, but with love, patience, and the right strategies, you can reclaim your narrative.

As you navigate this journey, remember that your relationship can not only survive but thrive. Embrace each day, each challenge, as an opportunity to grow closer, stronger, and more resilient.

Take it from someone who’s seen couples turn their trials into triumphs: You can do this. And if you ever doubt it, come back to this post, read these words, and remember that you have the power and agency to craft your story.

To love, to healing, and to a future filled with hope,

Bye for now