How to Take Care of Your Life Partner with TBI

Posted on April 12, 2021

When TBI takes its victim, it damages more than just one person. Their social life, family bonding and relationship are all at stake all while having to swallow the fact that their cognition and reasoning are greatly impaired. It’s nowhere close to easy for TBI victims to come to terms with the turmoil of emotions as well as the fact that their normal lifestyle has fallen to rubbles. And possibly they might not be the same after. 

But observing and directly experiencing this are the caretakers which in some cases are their life partners. It’s hard looking at someone you’ve made your vows with or shared your love with to feel like a stranger.  Changing priorities and shifting all focus to a single aim in mind – help their partner recover – can significantly neglect their mental health. 

Partners aren’t natural caretakers and when they have to assume this role, the couple might irreversibly damage their relationship beyond repair. This is the reason the chances of divorce after TBI has shown to increase by 50 to 75 percent. Although not all countries share these statistics, many couples are unhappy after TBI but feel guilty to leave someone who’s been through such trauma. Although the marks of such a tragedy do not completely fade but the collective cooperation of both individuals can help save the relationship. 

Obviously a greater role is played by the caretaker partner who has to take up the major part of relationship responsibilities. This can get overwhelming. A few tips that could ease the rehabilitation process:

  1. Do not pamper: it is natural to feel sympathy and over protectiveness for your traumatized partner but you need to draw the lines and allow your partner to practice some self-dependency. Pampering him will eventually make it difficult for you to openly share feelings with each other. 
  2. Always communicate: Never start assuming things or interpreting body language and actions your own way. Your partner is still suffering from impaired judgement. Have a daily conversation about each other’s progress 
  3. Do not bottle up: You’re bound to feel trapped in the relationship during the recovery journey and you might be holding back because of your partner but in the end you’ll end up breaking down on them and might irreversibly damage your mental health. Socializing and drinking may not be the most appropriate ways to vent out so maybe start journaling, blogging, cooking or gardening. 
  4. Strike the balance: Do not let your partner’s injuries make them useless. They might be less active than before TBI but you should allow them to practice a normal routine as much as possible so that it eases your burden and trains your partner to adjust. 
  5. Have intimate moments: Intimacy is important to convey your support and love for each other. The lack of relatability is eventually going to get to the both of you. Sexual interactions are not important but gentle touches and holding hands can suffice. 
  6. Set your own pace: During group therapies and learning about similar cases, you’re going to come across different couples. Do not compare yourselves to them. They might have sprung back to normalcy in a month or so. Don’t rush yourselves to it. Recovery is time-taking and you need to be patient. 

Finally, don’t do it alone. Always have close relatives and loved ones around you to keep up the morale and have an extra pair of hands. More importantly, group therapies and counselling is very important. It might feel like a waste of energy with it really helps you cope up and work like a team.