Couples: Hope and intimacy after brain injury

Couples: Hope and intimacy after brain injury

Taryn Stejskal, Ph.D.

The relationship between spouses, husband and wife, or partners changes when one member of the couple has a brain injury. This tip card helps families, caregivers and counselors understand how a brain injury changes a relationship. It corrects common myths about marriage, separation and divorce after brain injury and gives practical tips for partners.

Read an interview with Taryn Marie Stejskal.

Item: COUP
Price: $1.00 Market price: $2.50 save 60%
Quantity Add to wish list

Full Description

Couples face many challenges after a partner has a brain injury. This tip card explores the impact of isolation, loss, stress, and communication upon a couple’s relationship. Changes in roles, responsibilities, intimacy and sexuality are identified. Practical tips for couples focus on understanding the changes in a relationship and development of coping strategies to rebuild and strengthen relationships.
Pages 8 pages
Year 2011


Taryn Marie Stejskal, Ph.D., LMFT

Dr. Stejskal is a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) in the state of Indiana and the founder and president of Wellness Strategies, P.C.; a private practice specifically developed to meet the unique needs of individuals, couples, and families after one person has sustained a neurological injury. Dr. Stejskal received both her master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) and her doctoral degree in Family Science, with a focus on health and relationships, from the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP).

She was awarded an Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training (ARRT) fellowship, funded by the National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) to complete intensive pre- and postdoctoral fellowships in neuropsychology at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, VA. As an ARRT fellow, Dr. Stejskal helped to implement and empirically validate the Brain Injury Family Intervention (BIFI), a program designed to promote emotional and relational healing for brain injury survivors and their spouses and family members.

Specifically, her interests rest in family and couple relationships after brain injury and in applying a systems perspective to recovery from trauma and significant illness. She has written numerous peer-reviewed manuscripts, book chapters, and newsletter articles about the impact of brain injury on couple and family relationships. Dr. Stejskal is in private practice in Indianapolis, a research consultant for Purdue University’s Military Family Research Institute (MFRI), and is a frequent presenter at regional, national, and international conferences.


Relationships Change

Myths and Facts about Couples

Myth or Fact? After one partner has a brain injury, 50% or more of couples end up divorced.

Myth or Fact? There is nothing my spouse and I can do to protect our relationship from breaking down.

Myth or Fact? Wives who become caregivers of hus­bands with brain injuries have different reactions than mothers and survivors.

Myth or Fact? If I had a brain injury, my chances of falling in love, getting married, and having a fulfilling relationship are quite limited.

Myth or Fact? Male partners are more likely to leave female survivors.

Greatest Challenges for Couples


Tips for couples…

Loss and change

Tips for couples…

Complex stress and trauma

Tips for couples…


Tips for couples…

Changing roles and responsibilities

Tips for couples…


Tips for couples…


Tips for couples…

Conclusion: Reclaiming Your Lives Together



Sample excerpt. Preview only – please do not copy.

Relationships Change

Brain injury is a physical injury, but it can change every aspect of a person. This includes how a person functions physically, reasons cognitively, interacts socially, relates to others emotionally, and carries out tasks behaviorally. It affects a person’s closest relationships, especially partners and spouses.

Couples generally know very little about brain injury initially. They are often shocked when doctors discuss a rehabilitation timeline of years, not weeks or months. Other couples feel comforted by this longer timeline, believing there is plenty of time for rehabilitation.

Medical care tends to focus on the survivor, often to the exclusion of the couple relationship.

“The doctors at the hospital told me I was okay to return home. But no one prepared us for the changes in our relationship. They taught me how to walk and talk again, but no one taught me how to be a husband again.”

Both partners may wonder about how to relate as a couple. Just like learning to walk and talk again after a severe injury, couples often have to learn how to be a couple again. You may not be able to do the types of things you did before.

“My wife is so different since her injury. Things we had done in the past were no longer enjoyable for her. We had to learn to get along together in a new way.”

Myths and Facts about Couples

Check your knowledge and see if you can tell myths from facts about couples after brain injury.

Myth or Fact? After one partner has a brain injury, 50% or more of couples end up divorced.

It’s a Myth: Research on marital breakdown, divorce or separation after brain injury shows a wide range from 8 - 78%. Reasons for divorce or separation after brain injury are complicated.

Send to friend

: *
: *
: *