Spouses play an important role in their partners healing after trauma. They can help create an environment of recovery and healing. Even if the trauma happened when they were younger, support from a spouse can help heal. Research (Valentine and Feinauer, 1993) has found that this is the case for women who have survived child sexual abuse when they were younger. Support from others then and now was stated to be important to them and their recovery.
One problem is that men and women might cope differently with the trauma and that this might hurt the process (Dyregrov, 2001). Women might tend to have intense, long lasting reactions where they want to talk and process a lot. Whereas, men might be more withdrawn and solitary in their coping. When couples have this asynchronous response they may become martially or emotionally distressed.
It is crucial to both a spouse who has gone through trauma and the spouse who has not, that they are able to work through problems like asynchronous responses. Or at least able to talk about the fact that they cope differently and try to work toward understanding each other. Most couples struggle to do this even when there is no trauma to deal with. Trauma makes it even more difficult for them to talk through these things.
Counseling is a way to learn the skills needed to work through trauma as a couple. Whether the trauma is big or small, a trained therapist can help you both feel heard and communicate well with each other.