Posted by Tim Smith
December 16, 2010 12:32 PM
To help reduce the stress on a marriage following traumatic brain injury to a spouse, the Brain Injury Association of America offers the following tips:
- Patiently listen to your partner and show a positive attitude. Are there parts of what he/she is saying that you can agree with?
- When your partners makes a statement be cautious about disagreeing. Edit your thoughts to avoid saying only negative things that come to mind.
- Be willing to compromise.
- Changing responsibility.
- To avoid misunderstandings have an honest discussion and make a list of who is in charge of what.
- Once a list is agreed upon, expect that your partner will attend to his/her jobs perhaps in a different way or in a different time frame than you would like. Even when you think something should be done differently, avoid being critical.
- Always express real appreciation for the things that your spouse does, even small things. People who feel appreciated are more likely to contribute their time and energy to help out each other.
- A change in priorities.
- Make a commitment to having a good relationship, something you did well when you first met one another.
- Plan times when you and your partner can enjoy something fun-a movie on television, a board game, a walk-and make this an activity that can’t be pushed aside for something else.
- Focus on the positives in your new life. Couples that are happiest make five positive statements about their relationship or their partner for every one negative statement. So, even if you are having a bad day, make sure to point out one or two good things about your spouse or relationship and say them out loud.
- Emotional and Personality Changes
- Look for opportunities to laugh with your spouse. Sometimes at first laughter can feel forced. The more you try to have a good time with your partner, the more natural having fun together will feel. Couples who laugh together are lots happier.
- When your spouse says something you don’t expect, see if there is a different way to look at it. Rather than feel embarrassed, hurt, or angry, see if you can find a reason to smile.
- It is ok to expect and demand that your partner treats you with respect. Please do not tolerate hurtful behavior, even if it seems to make things easier for a short time. If your spouse says something or does something hurtful, calmly state “I will not allow you to treat me this way” and then leave the situation.
- Remember, brain injury or not, many couples do not agree on everything.
There is no doubt that following a traumatic brain injury remaining married and happy within that marriage is a challenge for most couples with or without brain injury. Whatever your situation is know that you can have a positive and healthy relationship by understanding the challenges that the brain injury of your spouse will present to the marriage. Lastly, if the problems seem more difficult than you can handle alone, seek the assistance of a local marriage counselor who has some understanding of traumatic brain injury.