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Healing Your Marriage After Brain Injury

Comments [55]

Jeff Kreutzer and Emilie Godwin, Virginia Commonwealth University

Healing Your Marriage After Brain Injury
Multimedia

Couples often report big changes in their marriage after injury. Professionals who work with them often find that people face common challenges in rebuilding their lives and relationships as they try to find a new normal. By understanding common post-injury challenges and learning to use effective coping strategies, you can improve your marriage and build a healthy, satisfying relationship.

The following three stories illustrate some of the typical situations couples face after brain injury:

Stephen and Jenna

Stephen and Jenna had just two months to go until their dream wedding when their lives were changed forever. Driving home after choosing their wedding cake, a tractor trailer crashed into their car. While Jenna suffered minor physical injuries, Stephen sustained a severe TBI. Now, one year post-injury, the couple is married, but life is not the fairy tale they had hoped for before the crash.

Jenna: Before the injury, we planned everything together, but now I have to do it all. When I try to talk to him about important things — the bills, our future — he gets irritated with me. I don’t know how to talk to him anymore and I don’t know how long this marriage will last.

Stephen: Jenna and I used to be partners; now it’s her show. She doesn’t trust me to make any decisions. She acts like I’m a bother if I need her to repeat or explain something. I feel worthless in our marriage. In her eyes, I can’t do anything right.

* * *

Lamont and Deandria

Lamont and Deandria had come to a conclusion that their marriagewasn’t working. They had begun to live theirlives separately, maintaining different homeswhile sharing responsibility for their threechildren. Then, Deandria fell off of a ladderand sustained a mild TBI. Although she wasonly briefly hospitalized, it soon became clear that she could not return to her same job orcare for the children on her own. The coupledecided to move back in together and rebuildtheir marriage.

Deandria: I was happy to be on my own, working onmy career and taking care of our kids. Noweverything I thought I wanted is different. Ican’t make him understand that there arethings I just can’t do, no matter how much Iwant to. My focus is on getting better and allLamont talks about is how I used to be. Whycan’t he understand that my priorities aredifferent now?

Lamont: Sometimes I feel so guilty. We both wantedout, but now she needs me and I don’t havethat choice anymore. Plus, she’s not thewoman I married. She used to love beinga mom and helping others in her job. Nowall she thinks about is herself. The kids andI know that she’s hurt, but it’s like that isall that matters to her. If we’re going to betogether again, I need a partner. I want mywife back.

* * *

Sarah and Carlos

Sarah and Carlos had been happily married for 18 years. Carlos worked in a job he loved and Sarah stayed home with their four children. After Carlos suffered a stroke, the couple spent the first six months just focusing on his rehab. However, two years later, their lives are not back to normal. With Carlos unable to return to work, Sarah has taken a part-time job while Carlos stays home with the children. The family now has one-fourth of their former income and everyone is struggling to make sense of this new life.

Sarah: He’s just angry all the time now and I don’tknow what to expect when I walk in the door.I don’t want this life either, but somehow itseems to be all my fault. I can’t stand to bearound him for more than a few minutesand the kids are scared of him all of the time.

Carlos: I loved being able to provide for my family. Now, I feel like I’m nobody. Sarah rubs it in my face that she’s the one working and when I try to work around the home it seems like I never do anything the way she thinks it should be done. I still love her so much, but I’m pretty sure she will leave me soon. She goes out at least two nights a week and says it’s with her new co-workers, but I know better than that.

* * *

The “Healthy Marriage” Quiz

To help you understand more about your marriage, read the statements in each section below and circle True or False.

1. Communication Challenges:

My spouse has no idea how I am feeling.

  • True
  • False

Talking about our problems only makes things worse.

  • True
  • False

We are always arguing about something.

  • True
  • False

He/she doesn’t hear anything I say.

  • True
  • False

2. Changing Responsibilities:

I have to do everything myself.

  • True
  • False

We don’t know who should do what in our house anymore.

  • True
  • False

My spouse acts more like a child than our children.

  • True
  • False

I can’t trust my spouse to do things right.

  • True
  • False

3. Changing Priorities:

We’re so busy going to doctor’s appointments, who has time to work on a marriage?

  • True
  • False

We don’t have an intimate relationship anymore.

  • True
  • False

He/she used to care about our family, now I’m not so sure.

  • True
  • False

4. Emotional & Personality Changes:

My spouse gets upset at anything I say or do.

  • True
  • False

I’m married to a stranger.

  • True
  • False

I’m worried all the time about what he/she will do next?

  • True
  • False

Look at the pattern of Trues and Falses in each of the four categories. The more items you answered True, the more likely you are having trouble in that area.

Tips to Heal Your Marriage

Read, think about, and try the suggestions below to improve your marriage:

Communication:

  • Patiently listen to your partner and show a positive attitude. Are there parts of what he/she is saying that you can agree with?
  • When your partner makes a statement be cautious about disagreeing. Edit your thoughts to avoid saying only negative things that come to mind.
  • Be willing to compromise.

Changing Responsibilities:

  • To avoid misunderstandings, have an honest discussion and make a list of who is in charge of what.
  • Once the list is agreed upon, expect that your partner will attend to his/her jobs perhaps in a different way or in a different time frame than you would like. Even when you think something could be done differently, avoid being critical.
  • Always express real appreciation for the things that your spouse does, even small things. People who feel appreciated are more likely to contribute their time and energy to help each other.

A Change in Priorities:

  • Make a commitment to having a good relationship, something you did well when you first met one another. Plan times when you and your partner can enjoy something fun — a movie on television, a board game, a walk — and make this an activity that can’t be pushed aside for something else.
  • Focus on the positives in your new life. Couples that are happiest make five positive statements about their relationship or their partner for every one negative statement. So, even if you are having a bad day, make sure to point out one or two good things about your spouse or your relationship and say them — out loud.

Emotional & Personality Changes:

  • Look for opportunities to laugh with your spouse. Sometimes at first laughter can feel forced. The more you try to have a good time with your partner, the more natural having fun together will feel. Couples who laugh together are lots happier.
  • When your spouse does something you don’t expect, see if there is a different way to look at it. Rather than feeling embarrassed, hurt, or angry, see if you can find a reason to smile.
  • It is o.k. to expect and demand that your partner treats you with respect. Please do not tolerate hurtful behavior, even if it seems to make things easier for a short time. If your spouse says something or does something hurtful, calmly state “I will not allow you to treat me this way” and then leave the situation.
  • Remember, brain injury or not, many couples do not agree on everything.

Remaining married and happy is a challenge for many couples with or without brain injury. Whatever your situation, you can have a positive and healthy relationship by understanding the challenges in your marriage and making a commitment to treat your partner well. If your problems seem more difficult than you can handle, seek help from a local marriage counselor who knows about brain injury.

This article was written by the staff of the Virginia Commonwealth Traumatic Brain Injury Model System. For more information about our programs (www.nrc.pmr.vcu.edu) and conferences (www.tbiconferences.org), please vist our websites or email Jenny Marwitz at  jhmarwit@vcu.edu. Article used with permission.

Comments [55]

Advice would be very appreciated here. I got married to a 23 year old man. I never knew of his brain injury until his family told me because I started coming around more. My husband doesn't look sick & looks perfectly normal. After having a baby with him and living with him he started having seizures again. It was scary at first for me then I got better at coping with it. He has a lot of mood swings. Sometimes he says things he doesn't mean & it really hurts my heart. I have to keep reminding myself that it isn't really him it's his mental aspect of his brain. We're young & I know I have to learn to deal with his mechanisms but it really takes a toll on me at times. I just want a loving husbands who loves me no matter what. Not one who says he wants to separate every other day. It's only been 2 years since I've dealt with his case.

Sep 11th, 2016 4:54pm

My husband contracted Viral Encephalitis 4yrs ago. Left central lobe of his brain was affected. Life has not been the same since. He cusses like a sailor. Gets mad easily. If you don't agree with him or he get his way he gets so angry. He has embarrassed us out in public many times. The left central lobe of his brain was injured where emotions and memories are stored. He cusses and call me names. My kids have had to hold him in the van so he won't jump out. I can't discuss anything with him. My kids try to stay gone as much as possible now a days. I saw his Dr. he told me he commended me for staying as long as I have. Our church was so good to us during his sickness but they have no idea how really bad things are. I can relate with so many comments on here. Too much to write. He is not the same person. I feel like I don't know him. It has been mental and physical. Mostly mental. Not happy to feel like you are walking on eggshells in your own home. I have went to work in tears many times. My daughter's bf won't come over as much because of him. I won't wish this on anyone.

Sep 5th, 2016 10:49pm

My boyfriend and I have been together 10 years, 1 month ago he shot himself in the head he survived but now has tbi frontal lobe. I had no idea what to expect I honestly thought he was possessed at first! He scared me before this he was the sweetest most caring, loyal, worshipped me. Now he's trying to get the nurses to get in bed with him and always making rude inappropriate comments to women right in front of me! I don't know how to handle it I just pretend like it doesn't bother me and remind him "filter". But it really hurts my feelings, I'm at the hospital all day everyday doing everything for him but it seems like all he does is tell me how stupid I am blames and yells at me. I'm 36 years old we should be having fun together living life, I recently checked myself into a psych ward to try to get my mind together but after a week it was same thing going up to hospital, getting yelled at, listening to him talk about how he would love to be with all these other women. I don't know what to do or how to handle this!!

Aug 9th, 2016 12:51am

My husband and I were married just four months when he became ill. A common cold turned into bacterial meningitis, severe sepsis, ARDS (accute respiratory distress syndrome). He suffered a seizure and possibly two strokes during his medically induced coma. He was in a medically induced coma and on life support for 16 days. When he woke, he didnt know who he was. And although he knew we were married, he didnt have an emotional connection to me (when we were married we had dated just nine months). He had severe ICU delerium and had to re-learn how to walk. CT scans indicated left, frontal lobe brain damage. He also suffered a TBI (crushed skull) when he was 19 during a car accident. This accident left him deaf in his left ear. This illness took away 50% of his hearing in his right ear. During the first six months of recovery, he saw a speech pathologist, occupational therapy. He attended personal counseling that, unfortunately, was a negative experience. The therapist was not well-trained and made incorrect diagnosis. He now has no trust for therapy and refuses to go. He also refuses to see a neurologist. I am a special education teacher and work with children with learning disabilities, behavior challenges, and autism. Since my husbands return to work (he refused to apply for long-term disability because he was unable to work the first year and a half after the illness) our relationship has dramatically deteriorated. I started individual counseling. He is unable to see that working long hours is not healthy for him and our marriage. He is very critical of me, is irritable, self-centered, and impulsive. He tells me he is trying to re-connect with himself. That he is on his journey. He spends an unreasonable amount of time with his family instead of with me. He is the oldest of six kids. His relationship with his mother is co-dependent and unhealthy. In fact, his family has played a huge role in creating a deeper rift in our marriage. But he insists its his way of re-connecting. His temper can go from 0-10 quick. Before his illness, we were like peas and carrots. He was kind, loving, and patient. Our love was special. He idolized me and me him. He recently became physical with me. Im devastated. He says he didnt mean to hurt me and knows he crossed a line. Im angry. Im lost. Im resentful. I never thought he would try to hurt me. Ive given him an ultimatum. Marriage counseling or its over. I feel so much grief its unbearable. I fought to save his life. I gave up everything to bring him back. My heart is breaking.

May 29th, 2016 1:08pm

It is all so hard and the joy has been the hardest part to be without..

children not joyful anymore either..all sad but must try I guess  try to

make some kind of normal....

May 18th, 2016 9:33pm

Everything I have read in these comments sounds familiar.  We are 2 1/2 years into my husband's TBI.  He was electrocuted and fell off a ladder, a double whammy.  The first year and a half was the hardest for all of us.  We had no idea what to expect and nobody told us what would help when he was released from the hospital. Some days he is still the husband I know from before, then suddenly he is the TBI guy.  My one child still at home and I have learned how to be a real team though.  We are like spies with secret code words and gestures to let each other know what kind of mood Daddy is in, or if something has happened that might trigger a response we'd rather avoid.  I knew we were going to make this together as a family during one of the really hard times that I thought I was handling okay until my teenage son made up a ruse to get me alone in another room and asked me if I needed a hug- Yes!  One of my sons away at college and I have arranged secret code words so I can text him any time and he comes back as quick as he can with a joke or a happy thought to give me a boost.  If he is not available, I have bookmarked several YouTube videos that always give me a laugh.  People at church have been very supportive, when they ask if there is anything they can do I usually tell them I just need hugs- because I really do need a shoulder to cry on sometimes.  A few of the men who are retired have invited my husband to go out with them for breakfast or lunch now and then, which helps my husband to feel remembered and like he has friends.  I got my husband to start going to counseling with me about a year ago by telling him that I love him so I want to be helpful, but sometimes I just don't know what to do and I wanted help to learn, and I thought it might work best if he came along to give his point of view (like the time he got angry and went and sat in a dark room in the basement for four days and wouldn't talk or look at anyone.  Later he told me he was so scared that whole time because he didn't know who he was anymore). Counseling has helped a lot, but we can only afford it because I work 50 hours a week now and have insurance.  I have a job that lets me work remotely from home- which is a blessing because I couldn't have left my husband alone that much until this year, but obviously it presents its own challenges.  It took me a long time to accept that these changes are permanent, so I could find the best ways to make the reality we are now experiencing work better for all of us.  

May 10th, 2016 4:11pm

My husband and i have been together for 4 years. He had a brain tumor removed on his left parietal lobe (benign) in January and it's only April but it's so so hard! He's 26 and I'm 20 and I bet it has a lot to do with my age but, I could cry and cry and cry and he won't do anything about it. I feel he doesn't even care about how I feel. He says he would never hit me but when he gets angry he screams and curses at me and hits the walls(there are so many holes in the walls from him). He punched and broke our door last night. I am kind of scared. For some odd reason at the end of the night i find myself apologizing to HIM for talking about my feelings.The next day I can't feel the way I feel because he's confused and very distraught from having such high emotions that he's just in a sad mood tomorrow because that's the last feeling he felt before he went to bed that last night. I have to act like nothing happened and comfort him even though I'm still hurting... I have been seeing that this will get better and I'm scared it won't because the day of his brain aneurysm I found divorce papers and I confronted him and he said yes. He went into surgery 2 days after that and we haven't talked about it since. I feel he hates me. I love him so terribly. I hope he gets better.

Apr 24th, 2016 3:35am

Family with TBI is left alone to deal with. Everything is my fault, you cook your fault, you don't your fault; I am just not sure how to deal with thins anymore. Not sure when his anxiety makes him violent, not sure when to laugh with him. Just a dead end. Definitely no lights at the end of tunnel for me. 

SE9

Apr 6th, 2016 10:55am

Very sad to lose hope of things getting better. When staying is driving you crazy and the last thing in the world you want to do is leave your marriage but it's the marriage or your mental health.. When all the raging is driving you crazy and your friends seem to take his side. When your counselor says just leave him. Or it's up to you how much you can take. So you try not to give up hope that things will get better, and after two years  he gets a little better. You deal assertively with his raging. But now he's improving he's harder to live with . You've changed, he's changed, together it's quite peaceful but when your daughter comes into the room it's like he can't deal with two people at once. He gets angry you get angry suddenly there's no peace anymore.

they call it love.

Mar 21st, 2016 3:02pm

My husband had a tbi after a bike accident now he sees everything as being my fault that I scream at him (I don't) and I say he is stupid (I don't) that everything that is wrong is my fault. We were married 34 years if this is my "happily ever after" I hope I die soon I can't live like this I am miserable and tired of the kids (adults) saying "he's fine" when he's not they are making excuses for him meanwhile I go to sleep at night afraid

Mar 20th, 2016 7:51pm

My husband was involved in an mva in 2008. We only had been married for 4 yrs, but have been friends since 1st grade. I had the BEST life. He was an xray tech and loved his job. We were so happy! Now since the accident he is on ssi and has a TBI he's NOT the same person. He has no executive function, nor does he have ANY self control. He has become a compulsive eater, drinker, and shopper. He is nasty, irritable, explosive, irrational. He no longer has the switch that tells you to stop eating, drinking, arguing. He is inappropriate in public, and being that I must be his switch, i am the enemy. He is depressed, angry, bitter, and miserable. He curses me, calls me gutter names in front of people, starts fights with random people. We have been to counseling but our problems never existed prior to the TBI and all of them are because he is not the same but refuses to or cannot understand that. I lost my husband in that mva. Sex is non existent, for 1 he has ballooned in weight, uses a cpap now, and has sleep apnea, and cannot perform. 2nd is he has no desire whatsoever, so i am forced to have no intimacy whatsoever. Every time things erupt he's divorcing me. As i write this, we are again at that point. This time he had sent messages to family, and friends of how miserable he is with me etc. I'm 99% sure this is it. I cannot say I'm going to be ok..unfortunately i love him, but honestly do not like this new person. If i were to have just met him the way he is now id never have even dated him. I am sort of feeling relieved if he is actually going to divorce me cause this rollercoaster is killing me. Counseling doesn't work cause he honestly cannot control himself, but has great intention. But it's a cyclic spiral. I am miserable living like this But we shall see

Feb 17th, 2016 6:53pm

My husband suffered a severe TBI from an accident with his hot rod at 36 years old. We just found out we were having our 2nd child and he was in and out of hospitals during the pregnancy. I am glad to hear that I am not alone. I want him to continue to recover but I have seen a dramatic decline in his recovery since having to take a number of seizure medications. I agree with the last post that it is very difficult to manage the TBI when the medication side effects interfere. It has only been 2 and a half years since his accident and I can relate to going through the daily responsibilities to survive. I just hope that in the end he can find joy in living again.

Feb 9th, 2016 6:02am

How many of your spouses with the TBI have been put on new medications, such as anti-convulsants?  Just thought I'd mention that because the side effects of many of those medications affect a person's ability to connect spiritually or in relationships. It can dampen a person's passion for life or people. Make them sort of flat.  And side effects and withdrawal effects can be mistaken for symptoms, and more drugs prescribed to deal with those.  Just mentioning this, hard as it is, perhaps some of the loss of brain function may actually be due to drugs your loved one is on.  Even if those drugs appear necessary.  Hard to tease apart the cause from the effect, and of course wanting to keep hope alive for recovery of the personality, to get your partner "back" and not be with that stranger.

Jan 29th, 2016 4:25pm

Sometimes I feel so alone coping with this and yet reading your stories helps me. no I have no choice but to continue on caring best i can and that I'm not alone out there as many of us I'm sure think?

My husband was attacked on his 30th birthday and at the time he suffered a severe head injury 1 year later this was found and by then nothing could be done to help .

13 years on he has improved in that he can read but not retain information but has huge personality changes and memory loss,unable to drive or work.

We have 2 children and now I have a 3rd whom sadly feels like a lodger living here bouts of drinking and in his on world unable to converse due to memory and un interest in certain conversations.

egg shells is not the word for it ,trying to keep juggling all my hats as a mum wife carer and work some days feels relentless.

I walk alot ... yet more loneliness it saddens me to have lost the man I feel in love with but yet still have this stranger here that appears to everyone else as so normal thank you for reading my rant and thank you for sharing your stories.

Jan 23rd, 2016 2:14pm

My husband suffered a TBI 12 years ago. There is no healing the marriage unless one wants to live life walking on egg shells; which most of us endure though there is only so much one can take.

Dec 20th, 2015 6:44pm

This is the same as any other marriage counseling site. it doesn't help in our situation. The last paragraph states how if we need more help, we should consult a marriage counselor with experience dealing in tbi. Our income is a fraction of what we had, with barely enough to pay rent let alive food and other expenses. How the **** am i supposed to be able to afford the services of a marriage counselor?!

Nov 16th, 2015 11:08am

To the writer of the comment posted Aug 8, 2015:

Like your husband, I had multiple head injuries (knocked out in a bicycle crash plus a few more concussions and years of headers playing soccer). Due to my wife's persistence and my last boss's parting words ("get a diagnosis!") I stopped denying anything was wrong and got help. That eventually led to  an MRI, which showed I had massive hydrocephalus and was on my way to an early stroke without surgery to put in a shunt. 

As I understand - from being a patient and reading, not from any medical training - a CAT scan doesn't have the detail of an MRI and might not show a brain injury. If at all possible your husband should go back to his neurologist and request an MRI. Good luck to you both.

Nov 6th, 2015 12:04am

I love my dear one, but I am frightened. We have been married for 40 years. He had a TBI as a child and was unconscious for 3 days. Three years ago he had another TBI in a bad fall putting up solar on the barn.  Last Saturday he had an out-of-control anger outburst six or seven times, even while driving, and even physically roughly handling our 3 year old grandson.  Enough!  Lord Jesus, what if I can't take it anymore? What if this keeps escalating?  What if he won't recognize what is going on?  I tried to talk to him frankly and he got very mean and defensive. Help?

Oct 22nd, 2015 11:19pm

Thank you to everyone for sharing their stories. Mine is very similar to a lot of stories. Husband had a stroke 5 months ago, affecting his left side. He's come a long way since and is still improving however I am scared he will never be the same. Will he golf with me next year? Will he gain confidence and become once again the strong, attractive  "rock" that I fell in love with? Am I supposed to give up on my dreams because of his affliction? I feel so selfish and at the same time so helpless. If I leave I am a terrible and heartless person and if I stay I become a martyr, giving up on my wants and dreams. I'm choosing to give us time and be optimistic about our future. Best wishes to everyone for a life fulfilled.

Oct 21st, 2015 2:20am

My husband had a stroke 5 years ago. We had a 1 year old and a baby, and it was hard. As he got better and slept less, he became harder to live with. Then his frustrations and anger became too much around our little children so I had him leave. That was 18 months ago. Not a day goes by I don't think of him, and wish I could have him at home with us. I like to think if he could have talked and heard and understood, then maybe we could have coped better. I dont think I could ever move on, it feels like a piece of me is missing, and I expect him to wake up next to me every morning. It's not lack of love that made it too hard to care for him. Sometimes it's outside our control.

Aug 13th, 2015 6:36am

My husband has not been diagnosed with anything but has had a complete personality change in the last three years. One year prior, he was kicked in the head, by accident by a player with cleats. He had eight stitches but only had a CAT scan.  We were told it was fine and sent home. This was his second head injury in the same temporal lobe area.   Over the next year, year and a half, he exhibited many of the cognitive and behavior characteristics that I am reading here. We were extremely happy with no issues in our marriage. He divorced me last spring, no rational reason. He realizes something is wrong and different but doesn't think it is bad enough to go to a doctor.  Everything in his life has changed for the worse, but he thinks he is fine. Any suggestions? 

Aug 8th, 2015 5:31pm

My husband took down a telephone pole on his Harley almost 19 years ago. It has been very hard to deal with the TBI but I found two things that really helped. Neurofeedback therapy helped him do much that he was able to care for himself and I went back to school and got a degree in Psychology so that I could start doing neurofeedback for others. I also found NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and the classes and support groups were incredibly helpful. I suggest taking their Family to Family education class very much for any caregivers of someone with a brain injury.

Jun 26th, 2015 10:45pm

So helpful reading others comments. We were married for 26 years when my husband changed forever following encephalitis. We had a very bad few years when I really thought I could stand it no longer Now coming up to 53 years it isnt always easy but we've passed through it and it doesn't hurt me anymore. I guess it is real love and we must be thankful for it.

Jun 26th, 2015 5:34pm

My husband was severely injured 6 years ago. He suffered a brain injury which almost killed him. We've been together 21 years and married 18. It has been very difficult as he is a very different person. I try to take every day as a separate day as after a few weeks he forgets almost every thing that has happened. It's hard to make that transition from caregiver to wife. Somehow I just remember that this is the new normal and I deal because I love him. I didn't marry him for any other reason. I know he can't help what he does or how he is most of the time. I have to remember that. I think that is the key for us as caregivers and spouses. We have to remember that they are never going to be who they were before. We have to grieve over who they were. Then, move forward with who they are now. People with TBI do not do everything on purpose. They didn't wish this upon themselves. Try to remember that when you get angry or upset that life isn't what you wanted it to be with them. I'm not perfect but I do what I do because I love him.

Jun 26th, 2015 11:12am

Met my wife when I was 14, dated since 19, married 25 years, together 30. Had a stroke, and two years later, we are divorcing. It is not an easy road.

Jun 26th, 2015 10:15am

I moved in with my now wife on January 1, 2012. On January 7th a car drove into my work causing an acceleration/deceleration whiplash TBI injury, and things have never been the same since. I have been through countless tests, therapies, and medications. My Dr.'s told me I was lucky enough to be the, "perfect storm". I got the vestibular issues, the vision issues, major depressive disorder, disks out in my neck and back, chronic migraines, seizures, sensitivity to light and noise, anxiety, tinnitus, cognitive impairment, etc... It has been over 3 years, and all symptoms still exist. The short term memory loss gets worse and worse as time goes on. My Dr.'s have told me it is all about controlling my symptoms, and accepting my injury as a fact of life. I believe my wife has given up at this point. Worker's compensation has been cut off, and I am awaiting an appeal. My SSDI application was just denied without them taking half of my medical issues into consideration even though they had the information. They wouldn't even request my records for my 5 day hospital stay in the Epilepsy monitoring unit, or my neurologists report of the stay. I think my wife thinks that I am not trying hard enough to get this done as it takes me so long to complete these tasks, but she refuses to help me. Then she has the nerve to say that she knows what I am going through. I hate that statement. She doesn't understand anymore than I understand how it is for her. All she does is tell me to stop sulking, and do something. She is sick of watching her husband disintegrate in front of her, and that she'd divorce me if it wouldn't cost her because I'd probably come after her for alimony. I don't know if this is supposed to be some form of motivation, but I am so depressed I just take it at face value and fall deeper... I guess my Dr.'s are right it's all about accepting it. My marriage is probably soon to be just another thing that only existed in my still life.

May 17th, 2015 7:09pm

We were marriage in 2000.My husband worked for the state highway department for 22 years.then on July,2003,a semi truck driver ran through their construction zone and injured him and 4 others.My husband suffered with a TBI and PTSD,skull fracture, punctured lung, fractured ribs,,fractured pelvis,crushed right hand and broken right thigh bone.He's a miracle to survive,but the neurologist told us his old self died on the Highway and we would have to adjust to this new person,so true.It gets very hard,mostly speaks negatively in every subject.It is hard to stay,I admit.I believe Christ wants Me to take care of him.He has many behavioral issues.Patience is hard but very necessary. Fortunately I am a nurse and can care for him.I refuse to give up on him..<3God bless all those who care for these brain injured spouses.May God grant us the patience to bear our crosses.

Apr 15th, 2015 1:21am

It seems like the strategies given are for the spouse without the injury.   I need strategies as the spouse with the injury, who can no longer work and struggles with daily home activities and kids activities while my husband doesn't see or believe I have any struggles.  He knows fatigue is a major problem I have and he thinks that he is helping when he says "go to sleep, I know you're tired.", but then he doesn't take over the activities that need done while I sleep.   I wake up to bills still needing paid, homework done with the kids, laundry needing washed, etc.  My injury is not new, it has been 14 years since my accident.

Feb 4th, 2015 7:45pm

Does anyone here belong to or go to a support group?  I am just wondering... not sure if anyone will respond.  Or can respond.  

My own marriage has suffered greatly since my accident 11 years ago.  I lead a support group, and that sometimes helps-but many times people forget I TOO am a brain injury survivor.  

What bothers me is this... no, I am NOT the same person he married.  But then he is hardly the man I married either.  Many changes occurred even before my accident.  Very frustrating.  

Feb 4th, 2015 3:21pm

i met sue in 1991...within 4 months we were fully committed to each other...some time in 1994, we happened to watch a movie about a young woman who had an accident diving into a pool that left her totally physically challenged...but her brain survived and she was able to communicate, speak, etc....anyway, a young man came into her life and loved her in spite of everything...i remember one scene...he took her to a beach, sat her by a rock and she talked him into going for a swim, insisting that she would be fine there by the rock, sitting on a blanket in the sand...so off he runs...then she fell over...and could not right herself...people came up but only crowded around her, watching her struggle in embarrassment...finally the young man realizes what has happened and runs to her rescue...i don't remember how the movie turned out...what i remember is sue and i making a pact right then and there that if ever any devastating thing ever happened to one of us, the other would take care of them, no matter what....in 1995, that horrible thing happened when an 18-wheel truck ran a red light and plowed into sue's little ford ranger...she suffered what they called a "closed head tbi"...meaning there was no outward injury, no cuts or skull fractures...she stayed in a coma for about 3 months...doctors gave us little hope of her even knowing us or being much more than in a" vegetative state"...god how i hate that term...sue is a rolling miracle, as she depends on a wheelchair now...anyway...i am the one that suffers from the ptsd now from just watching all the crap she has had to go through over the years...her memory problems protect her i think in a way, at least from that part of our lives...she doesn't remember the 11months and 13 days she spent in hospitals and rehabs...the hardest thing for me has been grieving for all the pieces parts of her that aren't there any longer while at the same time being awed by what is still there...yes, she is demanding, controlling...and sometimes i do feel like running away for awhile...but, i am so in love with the woman she is now too...her smile is my sun and moon...so sorry for the hardships but soooo thankful too...it has, at the very least, been a truly enlightening expeience...i have learned so much about so many things...i fear the future as we begin our 60's and feel my own strength compromised...i know we will have to have some help soon...

Feb 4th, 2015 9:32am

My husband had a car accident where he was driving and a so-called friend hit him going 120 mph in January of 2014. Until now I thought I was crazy and what I experiencing with my husband of 13 years was in my head. I appreciate and applaud the women on this website because I can totally relate and it's so hard, dealing with someone with a tbi. They are here and there and all over the place, and when you have children, it's twice as hard. We have four children in ages 12 to 2. I send my compassion and prayers to everyone who is dealing with these same issues, don't give up. God Bless all of us.

Jan 10th, 2015 10:10pm

Same sad story here. My husband was in a car accident two years ago and hasn't been the same person since then. He is angry and irritable and his memory doesn't work right. He likes to blame everything on me. The most painful part of this is losing the man I fell in love with. He is gone. The next most painful part of this is feeling so alone because of it - he seems the same to anyone else. No one understands what I'm going through. No one to talk to. I had to start taking antidepressants after having enough of the verbal abuse so that I can be a better mother to our two small children. Life was never supposed to be easy, I guess. He has always stood by me and we are committed to each other, so I stay. He actually had a breakthrough of clarity a few weeks ago where he saw everything that was happening and he apologized for it all and I cried so hard because I couldn't believe I was hearing these words! He seemed like his old self for a couple of weeks after that, then yesterday he snapped back into tbi guy. I pray that he continues to get better and somehow manages not to hit his head ever again. I feel for you all and please know that you are not alone. We need to support each other. We understand this struggle that no one else can.

Dec 25th, 2014 8:39pm

My husband had a accident in 2006 TBI but I could deal with him .In 2012 another car accident TBI again , now I cant deal with him he has changed he is mean and hateful to me , dont remember things he say or do to me, he threatens to kill me and he has turned to alchol everyday . I want to leave but I feel sorry for him , but Im losing me .

Dec 3rd, 2014 7:56pm

my husband had a fall at work 3m straight onto his head.. He was taken away in an ambulance, never lost consciousness and all scans came up fine. shortly after he lost smell and taste and six months later the behavoural changes began. He doesn't see any change, to him I am the problem, I feel like he has lost all love for me. to everyone else he's fine and normal. To me he is a different man, I am so lost.

Nov 8th, 2014 1:32am

My husband just had his 3rd stroke in a year and a half and is abusive verbally. Puts blame on me for everything that goes the way he thinks it should,when it goes wrong. He is very agitated by our son who is autistic . He thinks that there is some magic pill that has a cure all and because of some political and his schudule ,it took awhile to get son confirmed for autisim(all the tests) and he thinks he is superman and can leap over a track race and fix everything. He is a dictator now. It is becoming harder to deal with him. He has been the bread winner,now iam being forced to take care of everything on 721 a month with. 2 kids and the dept of social services won't help us eithier. Iam going to see if our son might qualify for ssi .i have 2 questions. 1 how do I cope with the all emotions and stress? I don't have family and his family won't help.iam finding it harder to deal with everything 2 are there any agencies that help with finacial expenses?

Sep 4th, 2014 9:07am

I have twin temporal lobe lesions, and a cerebral event of unknown causes on top of that. I have been undergoing testing for the last few months. Tomorrow I will find out if the spinal tap showed MS. I felt so alone as my brain changed. My family and doctors did not believe there was a physical cause. I was persistent and the 14th doctor after the stroke believed me. By that time I had deteriorated markedly.  I knew four years ago that I had a stroke. It did not matter what my doctors told me, or labeled me (bipolar was one incorrect label), I continued to pester them, go to new ones, and more. The temporal lobe lesions apparently have caused the worst of my problems. I do not feel like the same person I was before, I have changed sexually as well, my memories are degraded or gone, my emotions are a tangle, my vision is skewed, my reading and writing abilities are better (had degraded to around third grade), but only because I retaught myself. I am able to express the nightmare, but so many TBI patients, etc. are not. Remember that your family member may be terrified, and unable to communicate effectively to you how their world has changed. So many people on here, clearly love their injured spouse with great love. You deserve a medal. 

Aug 20th, 2014 9:31pm

I had brain damage after brain surgery last May.  Our marriage is even stronger.  We have been through a lot together and have been a support to each other.  Of course I wouldn't wish TBI on anyone; but for us; it's a journey we are taking one step at a time hand in hand.

Jul 27th, 2014 10:11am

I had brain damage due to falls, accidents and following surgery for my congenital hydrocephalus.  Our marriage is actually better and stronger than before my surgery. Every situation is unique.  It would be nice to see some more positive scenarios on here.  

Jul 27th, 2014 8:56am

My big strong husband, top of his career, we had a wonderful loving marriage.  Age 54 he had a hemmoraghic stroke.  We lost him several times and each time I prayed to the Virgin Mary that I would love and take care of him the rest of our lives if he would only be spared.  Every time the Doctors wanted to unplug him, I begged to let him live.  I slept in his room for several months in the hospital.  I have driven over a 100 miles a day to therapsts and doctors for 2 years, and now just once a week.  I will do everything in the world for this man.  How do I cope with the loss of my best friend, my husband.  How do I cope with this child like, control freak who gets into more trouble than I could ever tell anyone.  He cannot be trusted alone or to complete a task.  There is no family locally to help.  Maybe some one has an idea.

Jun 13th, 2014 12:25am

Six years ago I caught my husband cheating online. We were trying to work through it but I could never feel the same as before and then he had multiple strokes 2 years ago. Now, mentally he is like a child. He gets frustrated easily, often can't remember things and has inappropriate outbursts where he curses. He is a grouch most of the time and I am simply miserable after 25 years of marriage. I can barely stand being around him but feel compelled to stay. I'm 51 and he is 57. I cannot imagine living this way for another 10, 15, or 20 years. Hope God cuts my life short because this is not living.

Jun 6th, 2014 10:29am

I just don't know if i can do it. Been married 37 years. So painful. Have 6 adult children. Would not want to hurt them, but I am so, so tired,and so so very sad. Nobody knows, and no one can help. There is no answer. I try to be strong and positive but inside I am dying. I grieve the loss of the love of my life. He is not the same person.

May 31st, 2014 8:44pm

I can identify with many of the comments made here.  My husband had a lacunar stroke in 2011.  It left him with dementia and the inability to communicate.  His communication is better now but not back where it was.  He has trouble understanding some things and will say I don't know or because I did.  We went through a rough fall and winter and found out that three of the medications he was on was actually causing him to become feeble and have behavioral problems.  Once we removed those he has made great strides in his improvement.  However, with that said I can identify with having the responsibility of taking care of everything and the loneliness of not have an intimate partner to share my feelings with. Like many of you have said he is withdrawn and does not really know how to express his feelings.  The one thing that makes it better for me than most of you is that we have been married 44 years soon to be 45 in October.  I am not as young as many of you so some of this is not as important but still causes many nights of loneliness.  It is hard to see the man I married so many years ago but I can still love the silly man that God left here with me.  I cannot imagine being here without him.  I pray that some day soon you will fill the same way about your loved one.  Hang in there, I know it is tough but what does not kill you will make you stronger in the in. And for those of you with small children they can learn so much from your undying devotion to their mom or dad.  My children say all the time to people I hope that I can be like my mom if something happens to my spouse.  They all live out of state so I know how it feels to be alone in all of this.  Take help where you can get it.  There are several friends at church that connect with him and I have a younger brother that is a big help.  He is like a child in so many ways and, I am constantly trying to keep up with new ways to keep him safe and healthy.  It is something new every day and I still work full time.  I am working on a Masters degree so I can try to find work to do from home.  Maybe teach information technology some day.  I am halfway through.  God bless each of you and I am like someone said I would love to be able to get in a room with all of you so we could talk and maybe even cry together.  By the way sometimes crying and calling out to God in despair can relieve the soul in ways that nothing else can.  If I may suggest the song, "It's in the Savior's Hands" by Squire Parsons says it all for me and my husband's situation.  God Bless Everyone

May 6th, 2014 10:52am

My husband was deployed in 2010, three weeks before they were to come home he went on a special mission. He was the gunner in the lead truck, a humvee, there was a VBIED (suicide bomber) that was targeting the truck behind his in the convoy. The insurgent blew up early, right next to my husband about 8 to 10 feet from his left side with approx. 400 lbs of explosives. My husband was knocked unconscious and when he came to he thought he had lost his left eye and told me he had to accept this fact before he left the truck. He looks fine to others, he is not the same man I married 17 years ago, but he is in constant pain. He is irritable, he blacked out this past winter and scared me, he is now having nose bleeds at night. He will wake up with blood on his pillow, or in the middle of the day he will have them. They are random and unexpected. He started distancing himself when he came back because he was stationed at Fort Drum and I did not see him on a regular basis. This interfered in our life and I spoke to him about it, he has been working on it and so have I for the past two years. The first year he was back, I was advised to "give him space" but that was for regular returning soldiers, NOT someone with TBI. We are working on this marriage every day. It is getting better, he is getting better about the little things, and quite frankly I am getting better at communicating to him how I feel but in a way that helps us continue healing.  

May 6th, 2014 8:31am

My husband was injured 1 year ago February 1st. Every day is a struggle it seems we have moved past the physical portion and now I am left with the lack of emotions and caring. Some days it seems like he gets it and others it is like we never had a discussion. His short term memory is pretty shot and it makes it hard at times. He is very irritable and just has a hard time showing he cares. It makes it so hard mourning the loss of your old life and the man you married. I try to find those parts of him in the man I am married to now but every day is a struggle. Before the injury we were talking about having another baby and now he does not want one and is stern about it. I really don't have anyone to talk about it because our family and friends are split on their way of thinking. I have two groups those who are pissed because his behavior led to the accident or those who are just so over joyed by he lived through that they see nothing is wrong.

Apr 8th, 2014 9:02am

My husband fell 25 feet from a scaffold at work in 2012 (without a hard hat) & was in the hospital for a month.  Amongst back injury & other things he suffered from TBI.  Just last week he blacked out & fell face first to the ground, hitting the top of his head on a tree.  The doctor said it wouldn't effect his TBI but I beg to differ.  I feel like we have gone back in time.  I see a lot of the symptoms from when he fell in 2012.  It saddens me but one thing I can say is my hubby is a trooper & God is our provider---so I am hopeful & will try my best to remain positive through it all!

Feb 28th, 2014 2:14am

i know where you are all coming from and glad found this site.

Im 32 years of age and have a 14 year old Daughter. I was involved in a Hit and run Car accident back in 2011 i suffered a TBI to my head. I was hospitalised or 6-9 weeks and though i was gona die. I was released from car and went 30ft into a tree head on so blessed to be still here ... As i know lots of individuals would of died instantly ...

i had to have 98 stitches and 122 staples to repair the damage caused to my head.

had to stay strong and let the hospital repair me dont get me wrong it been hard for family members where my ex use to call me names on a daily basis because of the way i looked after the acident.

Did not care what he said to me but could of easily made me want to put an end to everything but couldnt do it because of daughter.. Had to bear the pain and come out of this as a better person. 

was hard at first coming out of coma and remebring family faces etc. i got through it hosital done damage that could not be fixed in the process of 11 operations.

really wish this never happened to me but it has and can not turn the lock back i take everything one day at a time...and bless god he saved me. It has changed me i know that as a person and don't think i will ever be the same. After the accident.  

When you go through a TBI the only people that you need is for your family and the ones that loved you before the TBI should be the same but seems they have given up all faith because of damage done. this is ashame for some people as the only thing that is required deeply from a person with TBI is love Its hard enough to cope with the TBI than with people against you and the ones that meant to really love you this hurts even more.

The best thing i done was get rid of my partner and for good.

I have tried to overcome the TBI but will always be with me till i die.

Been nice reading some of your posts and stay strong for those that recently suffered TBI.

Jan 1st, 2014 6:13pm

24 years ago, my husband of 2 1/2 years had near electrocution from high voltage/amps, and sustained a TBI. 2 years after that, he was a victim in a bad auto accident, which made TBI even worse. We have 4 sons, the youngest, twins, were 6 mo old with first injury. As soon as sons were in school, I went to work, and we reversed roles. Only thing is he was not capable of doing much, so I ended up trying to do it all. Husband has terrible anger issues, doesn't respect me, resents me, agitates easily, lies, depressed, etc. He has nothing positive or good to say to me or about me. Can't appreciate what I have done or what I do now. I worked so hard, and long hours, to support my family that now I am disabled. I have given my all to my husband and children. 2 of our 4 sons treat me horribly. None of our sons have girlfriends. 3 live out of town, other 1 wants nothing to do with us. I fear none will be happily married, as they haven't seen how to treat a female well and appreciate her. 8 mo. ago, when 3 sons were here visiting, in anger he told me he wished I'd fxxx off and die. He has no friends. I made my family such a priority that I have few friends. I feel I have failed miserably and he wishes he had never survived. Hope? He went to a psychologist for 18 years. She wasn't worth her salt, but I'm not so sure she knew anything about brain injuries. Recently tried to find someone who knows about or works with TBI. Don't take workers' comp or medicare.

Oct 8th, 2013 10:17am

I feel your pain. My husband has a brain injury from a virus that attacked his brain. It been six years and a year ago we found out that all that damaged brain tissue is turning to fluid. Its progressive and one day it will kill him or the least wipe out all together who my husband is. To this day I cannot communicate with him. His perception of reality is false. He gets angry easily and his recall is wrong. I don't know what to do or how to help. I fear that soon he will see me as the threat because what I say doesn't match what he feels and thinks. My children and I are so tired and we have nothing to hold onto because it changes daily.

Sep 29th, 2013 2:48am

It's all so familiar. My husband of 25 years is not the man I spent the first 22 years with and I feel so alone. I don't know how to communicate with him and he reacts differently and I have no trust where he is concerned. I am trying to get him to go to therapy with me, but he refuses. I wish I could get in a room with all of you and talk about this. I don't know anyone else who understands.

Jul 7th, 2013 9:20pm

I have been married 14 years & my husbands accident happened a year ago. He wants nothing more than to leave me & my kids but he cant take care of himself. The insurance just stopped paying. He was my best friend before. Now he says I am only his caregiver, & is trying to move into a TBI appt. I still love the person I married but this new person wants nothing to do with me. He resents me and has said so many mean hurtful things that I dont know how much longer to even try getting him to stay when he clearly just wants to take off. He stays in his room and will not help with anything. I still cry every day. I keep hoping someone will have a new idea to try.

Jun 7th, 2013 6:17am

Just reading the comments by someone in the world who understands the same agony impossible to sort through is helpful. My husband of 27 years was injured 7 years ago in a serious motor cycle accident and suffered a severe TBI. Every day is a struggle to scratch out some quality of life. I still can not accept the loss of the life we enjoyed. We just keep trying to get through a better day. My husband is angry, impatient, diappointed, frustrated, depressed but trys to be less angry and more tolerant every day. I still feel like we have so much to be thankful for but I will always be sorry that the person I loved so much is hurt so badly.

Apr 29th, 2013 8:59pm

We had a lovely marriagee of 16 years when my husband met this accident. Its been an year and he is still not well. He seems to have lost capability to love , specially towards me. I am trying to make this marriage work . lets see what future unfolds.

Sep 11th, 2012 5:11am

My husband, 27, has brain cancer (since 2006) and the recent tumor and surgeries have left him both different and unable to communicate on a meaningful/higher thinking level. I wish we could talk about things the way we used to and laugh. I try talking to him about my feelings and our marriage or the cancer, but he doesn\'t really seem to understand. He has lost all independence and his family and I have created a daily care schedule. The worst part is that he was never able to bond with our son--an affect of the tumor which grew right when our son was born. Our son is now 9 months old and my husband\'s judgement is impaired, as he tries to give him things he could choke on and runs little experiments which are dangerous. I now live with my mom because we are so worried that my husband will accidentally harm the baby. I miss my husband as he was before--he was my best friend in the world and we were so happy. I hope things will be looking up because the loneliness truly is unbearable. In going through all this, the only person I desperately need to talk to, can\'t talk to me. I\'m all alone. I don\'t know how to heal a marriage where there is no marriage left. But at least I\'m trying.

Feb 13th, 2012 1:05am

My spouse had a TBI as a child. The older he gets, the less he listens to reason or is able to negotiate or compromise. How do I get past the "stuck"? Where can I look for assistance? Am I alone in this?

Jan 10th, 2012 3:35pm

my husband joe has tbi/stroke is paralyzed on the right side and is in a wheelchair..his short term memory is virtually gone..his accident happened in 2005..now i have the responsiblity of doing everything..from household repairs, bills to be paid..and everything else in between..the lonliness is almost unbearable..we have been married for 36 years..even though he isnt the man i married ..i cant imagine having him not in my life..i miss him very much..our supposed friends have left us..but he is my joy, and my life..because i know if things were opposite he would be there for me

Jan 10th, 2012 2:50pm


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