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How TBI Takes a Toll on Couples in a Relationship by Charles Watson


Posted on April 18, 2021

We often believe that injuries like TBI or strokes are obstacles that can be overcome with team work and compassion but it’s easier said than done. When emotional and mental stability are compromised, staying composed and strong in such situations may be quite challenging.

No matter how close and understanding both partners are, the clash and conflict that is bound to ensue after severe injuries is what often creates an unamendable crack between couples in a relationship. The thing is that it’s inevitable but with the right awareness and education, both partners can overcome the challenges. Although the change in relationship roles and responsibilities may vary from situation to situation, the following are common hurdles couples face when either suffers from TBI

Emotional changes

It is but natural that such a tragedy would take a huge toll on both partners. Both partners are equally facing their fair share of emotional challenges. Where the TBI victim is trying to cope up with the trauma of having to live a disabled life the other is trying to accept that they were close to losing one of their loved ones. 

The partner with TBI is suffering with the usual symptoms including insomnia, impaired cognitive skills, memory issues, mood swings, chronic pain and depression. The drastic transition in lifestyle is already difficult to adjust to coupled with the mental and physical limitations. Frustration and stress eventually lead to anxiety. 

On the other hand, the unaffected partner is left feeling numb and alone. The emotional trauma of accepting a disabled partner and assuming the responsibilities that were once their partner’s magnifies the effects of the emotional trauma. 

TBI and relationship roles

One of the most obvious changes in a relationship after TBI is the transfer of responsibilities and the change in relationship roles. It goes unsaid that many of the responsibilities of the TBI patient will be automatically have to be taken up by the other partner. 

It almost seems like the whole world revolves around the patient. Consciously or unconsciously all focus is shifted to their speedy recovery. If paying the bills, taking out the trash, or being the breadwinner are now responsibilities that have been abandoned, they have to be taken up by the other. 

However, filling in for your partner is not the most challenging part of the rehabilitation process. It is the loneliness that makes it harder when both partners have to deal with their hurdles themselves. Both feel a lack of relatability which often brings a distance between the two. 

Change in relationship dynamics

What would you expect if you had to sit around losing your mind doing nothing or watch your partner doing nothing while you fill in for them as well? The relationship dynamics shift so drastically that regaining control of life and balancing all aspects is no less than a feat in itself. 

Soon or later, the couple is bound to feel connected by duty or necessity alone. The lack of fervor and momentum in the sex life makes this even more apparent. The building stress and misbalance in relationship dynamics eventually make the couple hit the reef. 

To say that the partner with TBI is the victim is unfair for both parties. Although both of them may be in totally different zones, understanding each other and working together for the long term may help handle the situation better and overcome the differences.