Healing Your Marriage After Brain Injury

Jeff Kreutzer and Emilie Godwin, Virginia Commonwealth University
Healing Your Marriage After Brain Injury

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:


  • 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.

Posted on BrainLine September 27, 2010.

This article was written by the staff of the Virginia Commonwealth Traumatic Brain Injury Model System. For more information about our programs (https://tbi.vcu.edu/), please vist our website or email Jenny Marwitz at  jhmarwit@vcu.edu. Article used with permission.

Comments (78)

Please remember, we are not able to give medical or legal advice. If you have medical concerns, please consult your doctor. All posted comments are the views and opinions of the poster only.

I found my heart at 15. Life had other plans but he was my forever. About 25yrs later we got back together and had a child. We both have other children. His brain injury occurred about 1-2 years before we got back together. I am no peach that is for sure but 11 years later he is doing much better physically but mentally I just don't know. I am never right. All I do is wrong. If I do something I am wrong if I don't I am wrong. He sleeps separate. He never spends time with me or his son. He claims it is me causing it. Then says I am the one blaming him for everything. He won't help me around the house, with our son, financially etc unless it somehow benefits him. Tells me I am having secret conversations, I am cheating (which I swear I am not)! Tells me I wasn't upfront about stuff which I have no idea what he is talking about. Tells me I should have told him stuff before we got back together like maybe I feel one way about something and he another - something I wouldn't possibly or even likely be thinking about in advance. He used to like my cooking and now he barely touches it so I assume he is eating somewhere just not here. He claims he isn't on drugs but I am questioning that deeply. I could go on but I just don't know what to do. I love this man more so much I just don't know at this point that us staying together will even be my choice. After he is degrading and vicious he will want to make love to me or hug and kiss me. He has lost so much weight all of sudden, bought teeth whitening kits, pimple popping kit, etc. Talks about this BEAUTIFUL woman he knows several times. He used to take a shower at least once a day. If he is still showering that often it isn't here. I assume he doesn't think I notice but slowly his stuff is disappearing. I just don't think a partner who has a partner with a brain injury has an actual choice if they get to stay with their partner. No matter what in the brain injury person's eyes it WILL without a doubt be the other person causing it.

My husband had a stroke after having sinus surgery. The hospital was able to give him the drug to stop damages but he had another stroke the next day and couldn’t be given another dose that soon. He has had brain surgery to help with swelling and he lived! He has no movement on his right arm, very little on his right leg and he can not speak. I know He feels like he’s in prison and so do I. I love Him so much but He doesn’t recognize me as a wife anymore. I’m his caregiver and I work two jobs to make it. He can take care of small things at home to care for himself with preparation from me. I come home at break for his morning pills and breakfast and set up an easy lunch. I get off early to check up on him, keep him on camera and have a phone for him to call me if he needs something. I work my second job a few days a week and make dinner and do most of the chores. Once in a while he’ll dump small trash cans and put dishes in the dish washer. Comb his hair and brush his teeth but mostly he sits around the house or sleeps. He doesn’t read or watch tv much. He won’t go to Thearpy or work on getting better or try to get a language we can use to communicate with. I feel so alone. We have no family support and I miss his smile, laugh, and sense of humor. He was the awesomeness of all husband and he’s gone now. How do you deal with life stuck in the in between? He alive and I’m very grateful but he’s not either. You can’t plan or move on or see any improvement. Just stuck in the in between. I’m a believer and I feel torn between doing the right thing and what I can do for me. I would never leave him but I have no life either. Guess I just needed to vent.

My husband of 18 years had a car accident 10 years ago causing brain injury. He was unable to work for 8 months and we had 3 young children at the time. Due to financial pressure he returned to work. Life has been stressful since then. The children are growing up now and the youngest is 10 but my husband is no longer the happy go lucky funny light hearted guy he was before the injury. From time to time I see glimpses of that man, and it makes me so sad to think that deep inside is the man I married but stress and pressure to provide, living far from any family support and the stress of work and life have crushed what is left of him. He prioritises his work as it is the only thing he feels he has left of his old life. He has let all his friends drift and sees me very often as the enemy. He doesnt see the importance of family time, breaks from work and spending time with the children while they are still here ... so the frustration of this causes daily arguments between us. TBH if we didnt have children I would have opted out years ago but I worry about his mental health challenges as he does get depressed but doesnt talk about it. He was prescribed an anti depressant but chose not to take it ... he was seeing a herbalist who helped but again these things only happen if I make them happen. I work part time casually and have the children and home to look after... sometimes I drop the ball and I wonder if there is a point to any of this. I miss him and I dont know where to turn. He has no libido which for him was a big part of his life. I think this affects him more than anything. He used to be playful and fun. For anyone on the outside looking in, we look like a couple who have marital difficulties. He jokes and makes light of any problems to anyone outside. I am truly exhausted and fed up pretending ... and I need help. Our eldest child is now 16 and the youngest 11 so they are aware but havent really known anything else. The fighting and arguments are destroying what is left. Please please help me.

My husband has never been highly intelligent or intellectual. He didn't even finished high school and began drinking at age 13 when most of his brain did not get what it needed to develop critical thinking skills. Regardless, I married him and one way or another, we made it work. Now, we have been married for 18 years, but four years ago he had a sport accident that caused him a brain injury. In the past four years I have made many adjustments, but it is getting to the point where I am loosing patients and hope for our future.
I have a Master Degree of Arts in teaching and I am always involved in advancing my knowledge in one way or another. I am an active individual and enjoy being involved in family and friends activities, job related activities, church activities, and occasional community service.
Since my husband's brain injury, I have stayed home to make sure he has what he needs and I take care of the responsibilities he has difficulty accomplishing. I do not know if it is his laziness or his constant struggle with depression, but he lacks much motivation and only does things that he is told to do. Most of the time he is not able to think for himself and if he does, he only thinks how it benefits him without consideration to how his decision will affect anyone or anything else.
I am exhausted, and I do not know what else to do. I am no longer who I was or who I would like to be and I am losing hope for bettering my life in all aspects and areas.
I love him and would feel horrible divorcing him with him having the necessary brain function he needs to take care of himself.

I need help. What can I do to help myself cope? Reasoning with him has not worked, how do I empathy with him? How do I keep myself from running out on him? How do I get my priorities back on track? Where do I find help? I read the Bible, which has brought me much peace, knowledge, and understanding, but how do I get the emotional support that I need to cope?

My husband suffered a diabetic coma. When he was finally woke, he’s a complete different person. Needs round the clock care. I’m scared, my kids are scared. I put on a brave face, but my husband was the sole breadwinner of our family. Owner and operator of our company. My kids are scared of him because he’s so different. Frankly, I’m scared of him too. He’s a stranger. I don’t know how to care for him, he’s diabetic and has high blood pressure plus a thyroid condition. What do I do??

On the 4th yr being married to my only husband, he started to sleep separately, I cried & beg until one day I'm used to being alone, we're 18yrs still together now. Five years ago he fell out from stairs and hit his head to the doorknob & I don't really know the exact details, he just explained to me how it happened as I was at work that day. After that, he easily became irritated and often put the blame on me even for small things. Sometimes he acts like 90yrs old sometimes like a kid. We're both on the early 60s. He drinks a lot like 5~6 glasses every single day and smokes too. Sometimes I just want to give up but it may not be the best solution to do being alone thousands of miles away from my family. He's becoming more boastful, most of the time I just avoid long conversation as it annoys me when he starts to argue. We seldom go out, just occasionally, or I often go by myself or with a friend to refresh. He's always home watching TV all day, he could not sleep with TV off. He loses his motivation & could not focus at times even taking care of his self. I have to patiently remind him what to do all the time depending on his mood. He feels sore every day, loses appetite, no sense of smell, declined hearing. I think the only reason why I stay or both live together this long is that he is not a violent person, nothing physical at all. Sometimes I write a diary about how I feel then I pity myself if I start to think the reality, how hard it is living with a person with brain injury. I practice to ignore and let the things go by to avoid mental stress around the house. What else you think I should do?

My husband suffered a TBI 3 years ago at work when 1500 lbs of product fell off the truck onto him and smashed his head into the ground. It's been a real struggle. He has walking and balance problems as well as cognitive issues. I can deal with the cognitive problems but because his back bothers him all he does is sit and complain. He has been to PT and OT for years but he does not do the exercises that he is supposed to do so he just gets nowhere. He can hardly walk down the street. He goes to PT then spends the day sitting watching TV. I beg and plead for him to work thru the pain but he just gets angry and refuses. His body will not heal without moving. I am turning into a mean spiteful woman and cannot take his refusal to help himself. My life is a living hell.

My dad got hit in the head with a wheel loader while at work and has a brain injury from it as well as constant ringing in his ear and he's pretty much blind in his right eye.

This took place October 17th, 2017 and today is June 1st, 2018 and nothing has gotten better. He and my mother fight almost every day, I don't see him smile anymore, or laugh, which is extremely hurtful because my dad was always the positive and smiley one. His smile was so contagious and he treated my mother as a queen, but ever since this accident it has been different. He calls her names, ignores her, blames everything wrong on her, and is acting like she is always out to get him. It makes me so mad that this has changed not only his and my mothers but also mine and my sibling's life so much.

I just want things to go back to the way they were and to see my parents love each other again.

I would love some advice on how to handle this as a daughter, it kills me every day.

Not sure if you tried and SSRI antidepressant. Many head injuries are low on serotonin. it helped my boyfreind. He still gets angry. He will never be who he was but it helps.

My husband had a stroke at 45 and was on both sides of his brain. He finally got his speech back and had no mobility problems, but he's not himself. 8 days after the stroke he left me while I was at work. Blocked me on facebook wants nothing to do with me after a 4 yr marriage. I filed for a divorce it's been 3 months. He went back to work, but I don't know where he's at. I'm so heart broken..i still love him..

I'm sorry. But having brain injury myself, I could answer questions in hopes you can figure out why.

But my first guess would be he loved you too and didnot want you to go thru that.

I suffered TBI from an almost life ending motorcycle accident and I was the victum MTA mobility bus made an illegal turn I was just as wrong " speeding " ( new motorcycle "all ways act like & use good sense ) I've learned my lesson.But I'm getting back out there. I'm naming my new bike Ms.Daisy

The lady who's husband had a stroke at 58. It just happened to my husband. Same age. He retired in April. Had a stroke in October. He is not the same person. We used to laugh. He acts like he doesn't even like me anymore.

Five months shy of 34 years of marriage my husband had a stroke. He was only 58 years old. We had him in the hospital within an hour he got his TPA. But was told he needed brain surgery to stop the swelling. Before he was moved to the second hospital to have his surgery he regained all his movement with his left leg and most of his movement in his left arm. His memory and cognitive thought tested normal. The second hospital did not give his surgery to him immediately and waited over 48 hours. He start losing his movement on his left side. He spent almost six months in hospital and rehabs. Where he also fell and broke his left hip. He's been 14 months. You can not walk, get himself out of bed, go to the bathroom by himself, or dress himself or care for himself and many other ways. He's also lost a lot of cognitive abilities and has troubles with emotion. I have never felt so lost in my life.

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.

As a brain injury person, my husband tells me that quite often. But I can tell you brain injury hurts a person with it. They lived inside their brains and getting angry at life situations and ask all day long why?

I have had many concussions and the last was the worst. I feel my wife understands a little but does not understand how much it hurts that I am not the man she married. 

I forget things. I'm nervous all the time at work. I get nervous with her. I just want to be normal before that horrible day. I have four kids and wife to take care of and I am scared. It does not get easier but go to find someone to talk to and pray your partner sticks with you. It sucks.

Doesn’t get better. Leave if you want your baby to be happy. Your life will get worse. He will not change. I’m sorry but you can’t take care of your baby and him.

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.

My husband has CNS Lymphoma for three years and still has a spot on his left frontal lobe after chemo and stem cell. the doctors monitor him as it remains mostly unchanged. He still has outbursts at me. It scares me and at first I didn’t know how long I could handle it. I still love him and try to remember the sweeter gentler man that he was in our prior 25 years. I told him I will not leave him now as I need him and he needs me. I think that helped a little. It is still difficult but we make it work. He started a bible study group that helped him quite a bit. I am proud of him to give it a try. I hope he keeps it up. We all need an outlet.

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!!

Frontal lobe as you've probably been told is emotional, behavioral, poor judgement, sexual comments, perseverating or repetition are common. Whatever is in there comes out. They may try to stop but it still comes out. SSRI really helped my boyfriend who has had TBI frontal, temporal, parietal 33 years.

My spouse is 8 years post TBI. He was in a lockdown unit at hospital. I also was afraid of him. He was yelling at nurses didn’t have a clue who I was. Tried to push me down. Hitting on all the nurses and my youngest daughter. After four weeks the brain swelling started to come down. He started to cooperate better with rehab. He finally was home compliant. He still didn’t know who I was and I slept in the couch most nights. After another month he started knowing who I was. Extremely violent. Dr put him on anti depressants along with another which has helped his anger issues. As the spouse dealing with this is draining. But one day at a time.

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.

You have to let him come back the best way he can. That could mean dealing with his family. Let him do it to take the pressure off of you. Allow him to spend time with his family and you go and heal.
I can tell you from a brain injury person here will need you and want you back in his life.

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....

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.  

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.

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. 


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.

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

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

Im so sad to read this as most of what you have written here applies to my situation too. I am sorry that I cant offer any help but just wanted to wish you well as I totally understand what you are going through. x

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?!

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.

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?

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.

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.

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? 

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.

My boyfriend also had neurofeedback. It changed him so much he could have a good conversation and he started to speak so that people understood him. But he has stopped the feedback a few months ago and has not been doing so well. The brain just gets so tired and sleeping does not give it the rest it needs and gets from neurofeedback. I will check on the Family to Family. It is important to have other family support which my boyfriend does not have. Also small does of CBD has helped recently but he stopped that too.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.