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Mom of Young Son Can't Cope With Boyfriend's PTSD

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I've been with my boyfriend for a year now, and he has been diagnosed with combat-related PTSD. I don't know how to help him with his anger. My son and I love him too much to walk away, but I need to know how to deal with this in the best possible way. 

Most mornings are rough. I always seem to do something or ask something that pisses him off, and I'm constantly making sure my 5-year-old is silent so as not to disturb my boyfriend. He's been dealing with these issues for a while now, and is seeking help from a psychiatrist and recently has started taking anger management classes. He has made leaps and bounds as far as recovery goes. 

I now feel it's my turn to read all I can, or seek support, or really anything that I can possibly do to alleviate some of the stress in his life. I feel helpless because anything I do is never enough. Something always goes wrong, and somehow it's always something I have caused. I suffer from anxiety as well, so it's also affecting my well-being. Please help.

Worried Girlfriend

Dear Girlfriend,

My first suggestion is for you to leave this relationship. Why? Because of your son.

Why should your 5-year-old have to learn how to be silent so he won't make your boyfriend angry? It's not fair to him at all. He's just a child. You also sound like you are in fear of your safety and your son's safety.

You are walking around on eggshells trying to help your boyfriend who has a diagnosed anxiety disorder, but you have anxiety too. Something has to give.

If it were just you, I would say do as you please, but you have a son that you have to think of. His happiness is your first priority. Move out and get your own place now.

There is a lot of help out there for your boyfriend. It's great that he is working with a psychiatrist. He should consider medication and therapy to help him with his mood instability and irritability.

All in all, it's his responsibility to manage his care -- not yours. It's your responsibility to take care of your son.

Everyone would like to help a boyfriend who has served his country and now has combat stress or PTSD. I appreciate his service to our country. But you can't make everything your responsibility, OK? Keep in touch when you can.

Ms. Vicki

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Ms. Vicki, a native of Dallas, has been the ‘Dear Abby’ for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology. Her column has appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Ms. Vicki has retired from writing new columns for Although Ms. Vicki is no longer offering new advice on, you can still email military benefits questions to our Questions and Benefits team. Need military spouse career help? Email our Dear Career writers.