Recent studies show the divorce rate in America settling around 40-50%. Did you know that the number is higher when one partner suffers a traumatic brain injury? Roughly 8% of couples separate within the first two years, and those numbers climb anywhere from 48% to 78% as the years go by.
While some studies are conflicting, the danger of divorce after a traumatic brain injury is present and real. If you want to protect your marriage, then it’s vital that you and your partner understand the truth about what a marriage endures after this type of injury.
Shifting Responsibilities and Roles
While the survivor of the injury recovers, responsibilities at home often shift. Household chores, work expectations, and caring for children are all altered during the recovery process. These and other aspects now fall on the healthy partner, which can add a high level of stress into the marriage.
One spouse often takes on both roles in order to give the survivor time to readjust to daily life and learn new skills as they adapt to living with their injury. These changes may be permanent depending on the severity of the injury, too.
Both changes can be too much for the healthier spouse to bear or the survivor may react negatively to losing their role in the relationship. Feelings of hurt, anger, and resentment can begin to brew on either side, tearing a relationship apart from within.
One of the leading causes of divorce and separation is financial stress. Unemployment is almost a given after a traumatic brain injury. Combined with hospital bills, therapy, and other costs associated with recovery, marriages find themselves on the rocks as debt incurs.
Insurance can help with hospital bills, but it rarely covers the extent of therapy needed after the injury. Couples are encouraged to seek compensation in court to help mitigate costs. However, financial strain is going to set in eventually. This is especially true the longer the survivor needs before returning to work.
Changes in Communication
Traumatic brain injuries cause drastic changes in personality, thought, and behavior. Survivors may become irritable, lashing out in anger. Severe depression, anxiety, and confusion are also common symptoms. All of these lead to communication changes in the marriage.
As regular patterns of communication change, the other partner may feel as though they no longer know the survivor. Survivors are also reported to sometimes feel differently about their partner, losing the love they once had. A personal injury or car accident lawyer will usually recommend a couple’s therapist to clients with a traumatic brain injury.
When communication is repaired, the next challenge is often physical intimacy. Hormone levels change, appearances may be damages from the accident, and attitudes towards sex may be altered as a result of the brain injury.
Couples therapy is the only way to work through these changes in a healthy manner. It takes a high level of commitment from both partners to work through every area affected by a traumatic brain injury. While the risk of divorce is present, many couples grow stronger together as a result of the healing process.