How Can Caregivers Help Their Spouses Address Problems That The Spouse Doesn't See?


How can caregivers help their spouses address problems that the spouse doesn't see?


If someone is not aware that there are problems after a brain injury, it’s difficult to convince them that there are problems.  And so when we have survivors who have profound self-awareness challenges, we’ll often have caregivers or spouses who are very invested in making positive changes, but are struggling with convincing their spouse that those changes need to be made. 

One way around that is that sometimes spouses are able to convince a partner who has had a brain injury to make changes for the spouse's benefit. So if I’m married to someone who has a brain injury, I might say to that person, "I know that you feel like things are going fine, but I’m struggling right now. I’m hoping that you might make these changes because I need that help, and if you make these changes, I might be able to do better."  Sometimes you can create motivation for change that way. 

Posted on BrainLine August 8, 2018.

Emilie Godwin

Emilie Godwin, PhD, LPC, MFT is a faculty member and licensed clinician at Virginia Commonwealth University, with a specialty focus on couples and family counseling after brain injury. Currently, she serves as the Family Support Program Coordinator for the VCU TBI Model System projects.

Comments (2)

I have experience on both sides of this question. I have a special needs son that we adopted as a baby. We had no idea he was special needs when we adopted him, and it was very difficult to learn what he needed and when. He no longer lives at home and is doing well. Now, I have a brain injury and my husband is my caregiver. I try very hard to tell my hubby how much I appreciate him as much as I can. We work together to make our marriage work with this change in our circumstances. I am there for him when he needs me. We constantly talk about everything. Communication and respect are key, here.

Dr. Godwin, we are 20 years post t.b.I, have four kids-3 whom are college aged (rarely come home) and a pre-teen who has begun to self harm. She has named "fear of her father's" moods and behaviors as the primary concern. For years, we have accommodated his need to promote his self care at expense of ourselves, but I am heartbroken. How do I get him to have more empathy for our children and to understand that the world does not revolve around him and his needs all of the time?