Navigating the System
A Guide for People with Traumatic Brain Injury and Their Families

My spouse was injured during deployment and has a brain injury. How will this change my role in our relationship?

Sep 25, 2013, 10:27 AM
YouTube Code:
Meta description:
10, 20, 30
(Our thanks to Sarah Wade and for providing valuable information for this section.)

When a loved one returns home from the hospital or rehabilitation facility after a brain injury, one of the first things the spouse/caregiver may notice is the absence of the comfort and confidence that were provided by the medical professionals around you every day.

To the degree possible:
  • Turn to family, friends, and/or other community supports such as your church, synagogue, or temple.
  • Find new supports in your community, such as a brain injury support group or military family support group.
You may find that the changes in your priorities and the demands on your time as a caregiver cause you to lose some friends. This may be an additional burden on top of all the others you are carrying right now.

Your spouse’s injury might cause changes in your marriage. Caregivers may feel the relationship is no longer a partnership of equals. It may be that you, as a caregiver, need to give up things that are important to you: school, rewarding work, friendships, travel.

It’s natural to feel resentful—and also natural if you feel guilty about that resentment! Remember that you are human, with needs and limits. You are in the midst of an enormous commitment of time, energy, focused attention, and new learning.  Celebrate the joy and relief of seeing your loved one get better, step by step. But also understand that your needs cannot be put on hold for very long or you won’t have the strength to do what you want and need to do.

It’s crucial that you remember to take care of yourself. This is easier said than done. So much of the brain injury recovery process is about accommodating your loved one’s needs. As Mrs. Wade comments in the video, she felt that she neglected herself because there was no other option. But she found a way to carve out a little time for herself each day. And she learned that sometimes her husband needed to accommodate her needs, too.

Take a bit of time every day, maybe an hour, for yourself. Be creative in finding the things that refresh you. Here are some examples other caregivers have found useful:
  • Sit down and read magazine over lunch rather than eating on the run
  • Go to the gym (maybe your spouse comes along with you and watches you exercise)
  • Sit outside and listen to the birds
  • Take a walk
  • Go to a movie while a friend or professional tends to your loved one’s needs
  • Consider joining a support group
  • Make your own list of things to do that refresh you—and then do them!
Brain Injury Alliance
© 2013 Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona. All rights Reserved. Disclaimer.