The quality of the intimate relationships of male Vietnam veterans: Problems associated with posttraumatic stress disorder

Authors

  • David S. Riggs,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, National Center for PTSD, Boston, Massachusetts 02130
    2. Tufts University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Boston, Massachusetts 02155
    • National Center for PTSD (116B-2), Boston DV AMC, 150 South Huntington Ave., Boston, Massachusetts 02130
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Christina A. Byrne,

    1. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, National Center for PTSD, Boston, Massachusetts
    Current affiliation:
    1. National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina 29401
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Frank W. Weathers,

    1. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, National Center for PTSD, Boston, Massachusetts 02130
    2. Tufts University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Boston, Massachusetts 02155
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Brett T. Litz

    1. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, National Center for PTSD, Boston, Massachusetts 02130
    2. Tufts University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Boston, Massachusetts 02155
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

This study examined the quality of the intimate relationships of male Vietnam veterans. Heterosexual couples in which the veteran had posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD; n = 26) were compared to couples in which the veteran did not have PTSD (n = 24). Over 70% of the PTSD veterans and their partners reported clinically significant levels of relationship distress compared to only about 30% of the non-PTSD couples. Relationship difficulties appeared to encompass a wide range of areas, with PTSD veterans and their partners reporting that they had more problems in their relationships, more difficulties with intimacy, and had taken more steps toward separation and divorce than the non-PTSD veterans and their partners. The degree of relationship distress was correlated with the severity of veterans' PTSD symptoms, particularly symptoms of emotional numbing. Research and clinical implications of the results are discussed.

Ancillary