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Relationship issues

Maybe you’ve pulled away from your friends or family, and you’re not talking to them as much, or you’re avoiding events where you’d usually catch up. Or maybe you find yourself getting frustrated and angry with the people around you, and find yourself arguing or fighting with them. Read on to find out more about improving the quality of your relationships.

Do I have a problem with relationships?

Often, struggling to get along with other people is one of the first signs that we’re not travelling so well. Living with stress and unpleasant moods doesn’t just affect the way we feel about ourselves, but also the way we interact with other people. Because our friends and family are so important for our wellbeing, not getting along with them can mean we’re left with no supports. People often describe a vicious cycle of needing support from those around them, but pushing them away, and becoming more isolated.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s your mates, your family, or your partner, it takes effort to keep relationships working well. And sometimes, you just don’t have the time or the energy to make that effort. If you’re stressed out or going through a rough time you might not feel motivated to reach out to people or spend time with them. It might be that you just don’t feel like talking to people, or you feel uncomfortable sharing the things that are on your mind. Maybe you just don’t want to burden your friends and families with your concerns, or maybe you find that when you try and talk about your problems, you just end up arguing about them and then the problems never get solved.

If you find that there are lots of things you’re keeping to yourself, or that you’re constantly in conflict with people who are important to you (not just your friends and family, but also people like your boss or doctor), then you might benefit from getting some support to help get your relationships back on track.

Why am I struggling in relationships?

There are probably some good reasons that you’re finding it harder to get along with people. It may be that you’re going through a major life change, or having to deal with a lot of setbacks. For some veterans and serving members, relationship problems can be related to another mental health problem like depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, alcohol and other drug use. Often, finding a solution to relationship problems might mean sorting out the underlying issue, whether that means getting treatment for a mental health problem or seeing a financial advisor about getting your debts under control. Building your problem solving skills and learning how to keep calm can help you deal with relationship problems more effectively, without every discussion ending up in an argument. Visit the High Res website or app for related online tools.

The impact of PTSD on relationships

Some aspects of PTSD, like the distressing memories, hyperarousal (the feeling of being wound up all the time) and the tendency to avoid things, can be especially problematic for relationships. Hyperarousal can increase the likelihood of aggression and domestic violence. Avoidance can get in the way of intimacy between you and your partner, and also tends to make you less satisfied with your relationship. Partners can also experience anxiety, depression, social isolation and feelings of hopelessness as a result of their veteran’s traumatic experience and mental health problems. Partners of veterans with PTSD often talk about ‘walking on eggshells’ around the veteran and being afraid of their symptoms.

Do I have a problem with anger or violence?

There is a big difference between feeling angry a lot of the time and being violent, and sometimes people don’t recognise violence when it’s happening. Violence can be things you do, things you say, threats and intimidating acts. It can also mean making people do things they don’t want to do, or stopping them from doing things that are important to them. Some questions you might ask yourself to see if you have a problem with violence include:

  • Are you worried about the effects of your behaviour on your children?
  • Do you feel very guilty and like you need to make amends for your behaviour?
  • Is your partner or another family member ever afraid of you?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you and the people close to you might benefit from getting some help. With support, you can change angry, aggressive and violent behaviours.

What can I do about it?

Getting Help

  • A GP is always a good place to start when trying to overcome relationship difficulties, as they can help with a thorough assessment of the problem and make referrals for specialists if necessary.
  • This website has information on a range of professional care that is available to current and former serving members.
  • Relationships Australia offers a broad range of services to individuals, families and communities throughout the country. Core services include counselling, mediation, and family dispute resolution. Contact your state-based Relationships Australia service on 1300 364 277.
  • Family violence prevention programs are run by Relationships Australia, and include a range of services to assist those with violence and or abuse issues in their relationships including family violence programs for perpetrators.

Online resources

  • The Raising Children Network provides resources for parents such as tips for setting limits or helping children deal with separation.
  • Mindhealthconnect provides access to information about mental health care services, as well as links to online self-help programs.
  • Beacon provides information and links to websites with a range of self-help resources, including mobile applications (apps). Beacon’s content covers both mental and physical wellbeing and is reviewed by health experts to ensure it’s effective and up to date.
  • myCompass is an interactive self-help service that promotes resilience and wellbeing for all Australians. myCompass is a guide to good mental health – it points you in the right direction. You can track your moods, write about them and view information and tips. You can also choose to do one of the modules designed to help you manage mild to moderate stress, anxiety and depression.

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  • Your mental health issues can affect your family. Taking care of your mental wellbeing is helping to take care of your family’s wellbeing too.

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