Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

How to develop a new relationship path after a TBI

A pair of hands clasped together Air Force Capt. Spencer Crandall and his wife Kristen hold each other’s hands during a marriage retreat in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2012. (Photo by Human Performance Resources by CHAMP at USU.)

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury

When you or your partner suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI), changes to your relationship are likely. Both of you might experience a range of emotions as you adapt to new expectations in your relationship, but you can weather the changes. TBIs can occur without warning, and the path to recovery isn’t always clear, which can add strain to your romantic relationship.

Shifting roles and changing emotions

The uninjured partner is likely to shift into a caregiving role after a TBI. This can be fulfilling and frustrating for both of you. It’s likely neither of you expected one would have to intensely depend on the other as sometimes happens after a TBI. However, it’s also an opportunity to show commitment and gratitude toward each other on a regular basis.

Still, these new roles can leave you both feeling isolated at times. That’s why it’s important to garner external support. Caregivers need a break to take care of themselves every so often. Encouragement from other family members and friends can help as you or your loved one recover from a TBI together. You both can’t make it through this process alone, or by only depending on each other. Reap the benefits of getting comfortable asking others for help because it could provide some well-needed relief.

You might feel a sense of loss or grief about your relationship as a couple, which can be similar to the grief felt after the death of a loved one. You also might grieve future plans that now have to be canceled or adjusted. And you might mourn for the couple you once were.

Your view of future goals and dreams probably needs to be modified or abandoned, and that’s hard. These feelings are normal, and talking about them with your partner, other trusted confidants, or a professional therapist can help.

The “new” us

After a TBI, work toward establishing a new understanding of what it means to be a couple in your current circumstances. Strive to answer, “Who are we now?” together. Build new rituals as a team, find novel ways to manage frustrations, and redistribute responsibilities at home.

A TBI survivor might not be able to handle detailed, more tedious jobs such as paying bills or balancing your family budget. Get creative about how you can reassign roles, so you’re both still involved and feel engaged in your partnership.

Learn more

Lastly, educate yourselves about what recovery after a TBI looks like. Understanding the typical changes in behavior, mood, and personality of someone who has experienced a TBI can help. Reach out to the Defense Centers of Excellence Outreach Center with your TBI questions. It’s still possible to build strong family and relationship ties after a TBI—it just might look different than you initially planned.

You also may be interested in...

A Head for the Future: Randy Gross

Video
3/25/2016
Randy Gross

When he was 23, Randy Gross was riding in a car with his seat belt off. The former Army staff sergeant sustained a TBI when the vehicle crashed. He sought help immediately, making a full recovery from his TBI and continuing to serve in the Army until 2006. Now, Gross helps those in the military with TBI as a regional education coordinator for DVBIC.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury

Head for the future

Video
3/14/2016
Woman putting on bike helmet

In 2005, a car struck Marine reservist Maj. Eve Baker head-on while she was biking to work in Honolulu. She flew face-first into the windshield, shattering her helmet — which likely saved her life.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury

DoD Instruction 6490.13: Comprehensive Policy on Traumatic Brain Injury-Related Neurocognitive Assessments by the Military Services

Policy

This instruction establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and prescribes standard elements, pursuant to section 722 of Public Law 111-383, requiring the implementation of a comprehensive neurocognitive assessment policy in the Military Services.

DCOE Annual Report 2014

Report
7/16/2015

Annual Report for the Defense Center of Excellence - 2014

Recommended Content:

Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy | Traumatic Brain Injury | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder | Suicide Prevention | DoD/VA Sharing Initiatives | Deployment Health

Patient Global Impression Change Scale

Form/Template
5/1/2015

Form filled out by patients to rate their changes in activity, symptoms, emotions and quality of life.

Recommended Content:

Conditions and Treatments | Health Readiness | Disability Evaluation | Traumatic Brain Injury

Neurobehavioral Symptom Inventory Form

Form/Template
4/30/2015

Form used by providers to question patients about their symptoms

Recommended Content:

Conditions and Treatments | Disability Evaluation | Traumatic Brain Injury | Health Readiness

Military Acute Concussion Evaluation 2012

Form/Template
4/30/2015

Use this form to screen for concussions

Recommended Content:

Conditions and Treatments | Disability Evaluation | Traumatic Brain Injury | Health Readiness

Traumatic Brain Injury: Updated Definition and Reporting

Policy

This memorandum updates the DoD definition of TBI, severity of brain injury stratification, and method of data collection.

TBI Awareness: Memorial Box

Video
3/27/2015
Image of a memorial box.

US Army Sgt Fox explains how his memorial box has helped him heal and remember meaningful events and people in his life.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury

Dr. Heechin Chae on The Mystery of the Brain

Video
3/23/2015
Dr. Heechin Chae on The Mystery of the Brain

Traumatic brain injury expert, Dr. Heechin Chae speaks on the mystery of the brain.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Traumatic Brain Injury

Army Sgt. R. Fox

Video
3/19/2015
Image of Army Sgt. Robert Fox

Army Sgt. Robert Fox describes his challenges with PTSD and how art therapy has helped him.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury

The Benefits of Art Therapy

Video
3/19/2015
Image of Jackie Biggs, art therapist

Art therapist Jackie Biggs describes why art therapy is an effective method of treatment for TBI and PTSD.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury

The Mask

Video
3/19/2015
Image of a mask

Marine Sgt. Jorden Smith describes his therapy mask

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury

Art Therapist, Jackie Biggs

Video
3/18/2015
Art Therapist, Jackie Biggs discussing art therapy to treat TBI

Art therapist, Jackie Biggs discusses how art therapy helps TBI patients.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Traumatic Brain Injury

Marine Sgt. Jorden Smith Pt. 2

Video
3/18/2015
Image of Marine Sgt. Jorden Smith discussing his therapy

USMC Sgt. Jorden Smith discusses art therapy for treating traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Traumatic Brain Injury
<< < ... 11 12 13 14 15 > >> 
Showing results 166 - 180 Page 12 of 15

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.