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Couples' Relationships After Traumatic Brain Injury

The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations.

Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DoD website. Traumatic Brain Injury and Intimate Relationships: Story by Erin Wittkop, Defense Media Activity There has been a lot of news coverage in recent years about traumatic brain injury and how it impacts the lives of those who experience it.

Cummings offered a few tips to mitigate issues and alleviate stress when communication abilities have been impacted: Plan dates Be appreciative of one another Make time for each other every day Do things together Find the silver lining and stay positive Offer positive reinforcement Also, be sure to talk to your doctor if you and your partner encounter relationship struggles that are difficult to overcome. Check out these other posts: Through the Eyes of a Child: Once he made a little joke, and next time, a comment on how nice she looked.

George finally had the courage to ask Maria for a date to the local pizzeria.

Couples' Relationships After Traumatic Brain Injury | BrainLine

She reported to her girlfriends, that although he seemed interested in her, he was very hesitant. She was hoping for a kiss, but it took a long time before he moved on that. When they eventually spent time alone in his apartment, he experienced erectile dysfunction. She was startled out of her sleep when he would suddenly sit up straight in the bed and yell: He was shaking, and so was she.

It took many repetitions of that event, before he opened up, just a little, and told her of one incident — out of many — when he was scared to death of mortar fire raining down on his platoon.


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It took months of patience and counseling, both for George as an individual and in a group, and for them as a couple, before he was comfortable enough to do those things he used to do before his deployment. It was the love that developed between them, and the trust he had in her to protect him, that allowed George to slowly, almost, return to himself.

The woman in the relationship experiences the effects of PTSD as well. For example, a sudden loud noise, such as a door slamming from a wind gust, could startle you and cause you to duck. The nightmares still occur sometimes, but both Maria and George know how to deal with them. Maria liked to dance and party, and that usually happens in loud places, which made him uncomfortable. To make her happy, he gradually agreed to go to such places, but to stay for just minutes.

Eventually, that time was extended. Over a period of time, he told her more snippets of what he had experienced. She learned to listen and acknowledge, but not to pry or push.

How does PTSD affect intimate relationships ?

After traumatic brain injury, many couples find that their relationship with each other changes dramatically. These changes are very personal and can be very emotional for both people in the relationship. This factsheet will help couples understand some of the common changes they may notice in their relationship after TBI. Also, suggestions are given for ways that couples can address some of the more difficult changes they are experiencing.

Although some of the relationship changes after TBI are difficult and can be painful, there are many things that couples can do in order to enjoy each other and their relationship in new, positive, and meaningful ways. There are different degrees of brain injury severity, and milder injuries such as concussions do not always result in significant or long-term relationship changes.

However, after severe, moderate, or complicated-mild brain injury, both survivors and their spouses or partners must often change many parts of their lives. The following life changes typically affect intimate relationships:. Brain injury survivors often have new personality traits, challenges, fears, and limitations. Survivors are often surprised by how these changes also mean that they will feel and behave differently in their relationships.


  • TBI and PTSD: Navigating the Perfect Storm | BrainLine.
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  • Traumatic Brain Injury and Intimate Relationships: What You Need to Know | DoDLive;
  • Traumatic Brain Injury and Intimate Relationships: What You Need to Know?
  • Starting or Nourishing Romantic Relationships After Brain Injury | BrainLine.
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The intimate partners of survivors may have new concerns or fears related to both the incident that caused the injury and the new behavior traits of the survivor. Also, partners often change the focus in their lives in order to manage the multiple challenges that arise for their family after an injury.

Uncertainty can increase stress and anxiety within the home. After a TBI, survivors must focus their energy on getting better and developing new skills. As a result, the assignment of responsibilities in the home must change. This means that everyone in the family is involved in learning new skills and taking on new jobs. In all families, people take on roles that often define how they behave. After brain injury, the challenge of recovery nearly always results in some changes to the roles within a family.

While the person with TBI is in the hospital, their partner may need to make decisions that are usually made by the survivor. For example, a husband may make decisions about child care that his wife usually makes, or a wife may calm the family when everyone is upset, although that is something her husband has always done. Communication is the foundation of a relationship. In studies on relationships after brain injury, communication is often reported as the biggest change people notice. Most couples notice significant changes in their sexual relationship after TBI.

There are many reasons for these differences, including changes in:. Therapy can give couples support and ideas to improve their specific situations. Different types of counseling are available, including individual counseling for either the survivor or partner, couples counseling, or family therapy. Seek out a counselor or psychotherapist who has expertise in brain injuries. If there are no therapists locally with brain injury experience, couples should provide their therapist with information about injury and common relationship challenges that can accompany injury. The Web sites on this factsheet can be a good place to start.

These groups can help couples establish new friendships, find local information and resources, and provide time apart from their partner for reflection. When local support groups are unavailable, try Web-based chat groups and support communities. These groups are an excellent option when in-person groups are either too far away or when transportation is a challenge.

To find a support group or counselor in your area, start with your State brain injury association. If you do not know how to reach your State brain injury association, you can either a contact the Brain Injury Association of America 1——— or on the Web at http: Online support groups are available on Facebook and throughout the Web.

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At home, make a commitment to establish a positive environment. Looking for progress in recovery instead of ways in which a relationship is not succeeding can improve how people feel about each other. Additionally, part of having a positive home life comes from the opportunity for fun as a couple.

go to site If you are in a new relationship, the process of recovery can be more complicated. For example, if an individual is injured while he or she is in the early stages of a relationship, the couple may not know what their roles are yet. Any couples who are new to their relationships can work to take a positive approach to recovery. Although role uncertainty may be a challenge, it also provides the couple more freedom by not being tied to old ways of doing things. There are also a growing number of adults who choose to live in unmarried monogamous relationships.

You may have heard that divorce or separation is likely after TBI.

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