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...

Help With Ongoing Symptoms Following Concussion/Mild TBI Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
4/28/2021

Although the majority of service members recover from concussion with little to no intervention, some experience symptoms beyond the first three months after their initial injury. This fact sheet addresses why symptoms continue to persist in some patients and how they can cope or seek additional help.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Patient and Family Resources | TBI Educators | Provider Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury

What You Should Know About Concussions Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
3/30/2021

This fact sheet is designed to educate deployed service members about traumatic brain injuries immediately after concussion injury.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Patient and Family Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury

Vision Problems After Concussion Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
3/30/2021

This fact sheet helps concussed service members understand vision problems and provides insight into treatment options.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Patient and Family Resources | Provider Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury

Ride Right Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
8/6/2020

This bicycle safety fact sheet provides tips to protect your head and help prevent TBI while riding a bike. It also includes the signs and symptoms of TBI, and how to get help if you think you sustained a brain injury.

Recommended Content:

A Head for the Future | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Patient and Family Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury

Respect the Road

Fact Sheet
8/6/2020

One of the leading causes of military traumatic brain injury is motor vehicle crashes. This car safety fact sheet provides tips to help prevent TBI while driving a motor vehicle and safety measures to take to keep passengers safe. It also includes the signs and symptoms of TBI, and how to get help if you think you sustained a brain injury.

Recommended Content:

A Head for the Future | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Patient and Family Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury | Brain Injury Awareness Toolkit | Brain Injury Awareness Month

Head Check: Know Your Helmet, Football and Baseball

Fact Sheet
8/6/2020

A Head for the Future aims to raise awareness about TBI among service members, veterans and their families. This fact sheet provides tips for choosing the right helmet for the right sport, with information about different safety features in helmets for football and baseball.

Recommended Content:

A Head for the Future | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Patient and Family Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury | Brain Injury Awareness Toolkit

Head Check: Know Your Helmet, Bicycle and Motorcycle

Fact Sheet
8/6/2020

A Head for the Future aims to raise awareness about TBI among service members, veterans and their families. This fact sheet provides tips for choosing the right helmet for the right ride, with information about different safety features in helmets for bicycling and riding motorcycles.

Recommended Content:

A Head for the Future | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Patient and Family Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury | Brain Injury Awareness Toolkit

Cruise with Control

Fact Sheet
8/6/2020

One of the leading causes of military traumatic brain injury is motor vehicle crashes. This fact sheet provides tips on how to stay safe on motorcycles to help prevent TBI while riding. It also includes the signs and symptoms of TBI, and how to get help if you think you sustained a brain injury.

Recommended Content:

A Head for the Future | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Patient and Family Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury

Heads Up; Sports Safety

Fact Sheet
8/6/2020

This fact sheet provides sports safety tips to prevent or minimize sports-related traumatic brain injury. It also includes the signs and symptoms of TBI, and how to get help if you think you sustained a brain injury.

Recommended Content:

A Head for the Future | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Patient and Family Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury | Brain Injury Awareness Toolkit

Head Check: Know Your Helmet, Winter Sports

Fact Sheet
8/6/2020

A Head for the Future aims to raise awareness about TBI among service members, veterans and their families. This fact sheet provides tips for choosing the right helmet for the right sport, with information about different safety features in helmets for skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling.

Recommended Content:

A Head for the Future | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Patient and Family Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury | Brain Injury Awareness Toolkit | Winter Safety

TBI Awareness Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
7/30/2020

This fact sheet describes the main causes of traumatic brain injury and the importance of prompt and proper treatment.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Prevention | TBI Screening | TBI Symptoms | TBI Resources | Worldwide TBI Numbers

Ways to Improve Your Memory Following Concussion/mTBI Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
7/30/2020

This TBICoE fact sheet can be used by health care providers to educate patients with concussion/mild traumatic brain injury on how to manage memory problems related to their injury.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Educators | Provider Resources | Patient and Family Resources

Concussion/Mild TBI Signs and Symptoms Spanish Version Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
7/30/2020

This fact sheet — in Spanish — identifies major physical, cognitive and emotional symptoms of concussion/mild TBI, and provides coping and recovery tips.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Patient and Family Resources | Provider Resources | A Head for the Future | Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Symptoms | TBI Resources | TBI Screening

Neck Pain Following Concussion/mTBI Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
7/30/2020

Neck pain can occur together with headaches following a concussion. This fact sheet provides information to help patients manage neck pain. Various techniques are explained, including the use of heat or cold therapy, neck stretches, proper sleep positions and common activities that may contribute to neck strain.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Patient and Family Resources | Provider Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury

Head Injury and Dizziness Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
7/30/2020

This fact sheet can be used to educate patients with concussion/mild TBI on how to manage dizziness related to their injury.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Patient and Family Resources | Provider Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Symptoms | TBI Resources
<< < 1 2 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 2

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.