my relationship doesn't feel like one anymore - Headway


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my relationship doesn't feel like one anymore


hi everyone I'm very new to this my partner had a serious car accident in November although he has made a remarkable recovery he now has brain damage he gets angered easily suffers with severe anxiety and has short term memory loss compared to so many ppl we r extremely lucky but I just feel like my relationship isn't there anymore I feel like I am single yet I'm not I don't know if this is normal I really would appreciate anyone's input if they r in or have been in the same situation so many friends and family say they understand and they r all so wonderful but they really don't get it and how much it has changed all our lives including our 2 girls.

Thank u for reading xx

24 Replies

Hi Kim.

I can only comment from bi side plus what my partner has told me.

We struggled initially with the change in me and it took a lot of adjusting to the new me. It threw up various feelings including my partner feeling like she was cheating on me ...With me ...yep strange feelings.

As for the further family impact yes my three daughters also suffered. My youngest didnt like the new daddy.

It can be worked through with support and determination but it is a roller coaster of a ride.

The main thing is to be honest with each other...And yourself.oh and an obvious one...Keep talking no matter what. Yes it will hurt but trust me it is worth the hurt if it's what you both want.

Pax x.

kimstar83 in reply to paxo05

thank u so much for ur reply and advise it really is appreciated I wish u well hopefully we will eventually get back to a new normal xx

paxo05 in reply to kimstar83

I don't know if this helps but when me and my partner were struggling to come to terms with things we felt little support from family.

All we got was " you should be thankfull" and " how bad can it be".

Then we split. We didn't know if it was for good or not. I had nowhere to live, I couldn't stay and look after the kids, so I moved back to my mums.

Oh what a shock she got. It soon spread around the family just how bad it could be.

On a positive note we got help. We started dating again and renewed our vows. Our marriage isn't perfect ( who's is) but we are ok.

Things do get better...even the sex can return . Sorry to be blunt.

The great secret be honest and talk or write to each other.

Things do alter once you have got over the initial recovery.

Hope this helps

Pax x

Daylight123 in reply to paxo05

Thank you so much for sharing and showing that there is hope for relationship after head injury. I have some added complication on top of the head injury which makes the challenges even more difficult but I do love my partner very much and I know he loves me . I am now over the shock of the situation and we just need to get of first basis which is to get him to talk and improve our communication skills. Hopefully like you we can find are way forward together.

On the surface we look like the perfect couple and in some respects we are but underneath there are real issues and challenges more than I ever expected when we got together. Thanks for your bluntness its really needed and appreciated. I don't feel so alone, and do feel hopeful. Thanks again x

Hi Kim

I too am answering from the BI side, unfortunately partnerships in these situations, where one person changes, and it can be a dramatic change, are so difficult to live with.

I get so frustrated because I am not the person I was, I also ate being so dependant. And I have recovered so well, to the astonishment of any medical person who has read my notes.

We have almost the old me back, just some physical issues and a slowing in my mental processes, my personality is basically intact.

So, my heart goes out to all of you who are dealing with much more far-reaching issues.

Please be aware that you are not alone, there is help for you if not from us or Headway then do find a careers organisation who will help you.

Take care and come back any time you need any support we can give.

Janet x

kimstar83 in reply to Kirk5w7

thank u my partner feels the same he hates the fact he struggles so much and depends on me all the time although I don't mind it's so upsetting seeing him struggle with his emotions, ur reply is so gratefully received I wish u well thank u for ur advise xx

another BI side as well I'm afraid!

I'm married still, I'm much less nice than before, in that I have a temper and dodn't always get the right emotional cues. and so on.

Does your other half realise they have changed?

he does but I'm not sure he understands the full extent of it its so hard for him too, thank u for ur reply and help xx

Does he go to headway meetings or somewhere he sees others? Denial about ones self is common.

But seeing similar folks does help to get the insight.

no he hasn't been to any but it's something to try thank u xx

For us its been about getting through the intail truma and adjusting to life with B.I it is hard and hubby and i are not "perfect" our sex life has gone but hoping to get it back! but aside from that we are closer than we were pre B.I.Be honest with each other catch him on a decent day and talk things out as best you can,keep talking and if you need it ask Headway for counselling. Iam from your point of view,all the best

it's so strange to know someone yet feel like a stranger all at the same time.. we have also lost our sex life I feel that we don't have the connection but hopefully that will come back, thank u for ur advise i wish u well xx

moo196 in reply to kimstar83


Not much to add as my partner left the day I became ill.

But the expression you used here is quite apt....I think it's what a lot of us b I survivors feel about ourselves ...and thats really hard on it's own...."it's so strange to know someone yet feel like a stranger all at the same time.."(all within our own selves we are strangers, but can't leave).

Good luck ☺

Pleasure and all the best to you

kimstar83 you tell your friends and family until they have had a bi they will never understand, if they say that to a person with a bi its like like lighting a fire work, touch blue paper and stand well back !!!

kimstar83 in reply to steve55

very true I love them all very much but hard to get them to understand thank u for ur reply xx

thank u all so much for all ur advise and help it's so nice to not feel quite as lost just with u all understanding i feel like a small weight is lifting xx

Hi Kimstar

I know exactly how you feel. My wife suffered a brain injury just over 18 months ago, and as been home from hospital for a year and 10 days. To begin with, I didn't feel like I had a relationship either. I just felt like I had a responsibility. And while my wife's personality stayed intact, of course there are many behavioural and cognitive difficulties which make having a relationship extremely difficult. She has really big mood swings, poor memory and very little speech. However, she's also extremely lucky to have recovered most of her physical abilities.

But I still have to do everything around the house and provide emotional support. She's not well enough to work any more, so she's just sat around the house all day trying to keep occupied. I'm lucky if I can put in an hours work most days.

At the beginning of this reply I said it didn't feel like a relationship to begin with. In many ways it still doesn't, but time does change things. After a while, the shock of the change softens, and you begin to find ways of coping with the difficulties your partner's BI brings.

Make sure you're getting all the support you're entitled to. Speak to your social worker if you have one, or headway helpline if not.

Also, try to remember that when your partner becomes angry or anxious, it's not personal. It's the brain injury. I struggled with this a lot at first, and still am in many ways, but over the months I've begun to be able to detach myself a little.

I highly recommend getting some counselling or therapy for yourself to help you through this. I've done this (still am doing it) and it's been invaluable in terms of finding new ways to deal with such a difficult situation. And having someone who's there for YOU is crucial when you're expected to sacrifice so much for your partner at this time.

Be kind to yourself. Everything you're feeling is normal. You're coping with something extraordinary, so don't ask too much of yourself. Friends and family may not understand, so see if you can put them to other use. Can they spend a few hours with your partner so you can go out for lunch/ to the gym/ for a walk/ anything for yourself? Don't be afraid to prioritise your own needs from time to time or else you risk burning out.

Hang in there; you're doing great and you're not alone. There are a few of us here whose partners have the BI. I'll keep an eye out for your posts.

kimstar83 in reply to teabone

thank u so much for ur advice and support it really is appreciated I do try and have some time to myself but he makes me feel guilty about wanting a little time for me so then I don't go far or out much just so as to not upset him but he right I do need sometime for me, this group is helping me feel like I can be honest and feel like I can let go ve angry and upset and it's not wrong.

take care and thank u for understanding xx

Hi - I'm in a similar situation- my partner got assaulted 3 years ago and was a successful lawyer who now can't work. He is increasingly angry and aggressive and awful with my kids. I'm at my wits end - he has no family here and nowhere else to go. I have lost most of my friends as people can't deal with it. I really don't no who to turn to - I have no support, I feel exhausted and lonely and although it's wicked to say I sometimes wish he had died in that accident. I'm even avoiding my family now as I don't want them to know the extent of the problem. I'm walking on eggshells all the time - he can sometimes be so lovely and caring, but then it's like a switch being turned on when he goes into a rage. What's worse is that he's in such denial and just won't accept he even has a brain injury. It's an impossible situation and my heart goes out to anyone going through this.

my hubby is the same he doesn't want to admit as such he has brain damage although he does know, the anger he has sometimes really frightens me, our 2 girls don't even know what to say sometimes I have a 10yr old and 15yr old which is hard in itself sometimes I them have a 6ft man who can sometimes act like a child, I love him very much u just don't like him sometimes there r days when I have my lovely kund caring husband and other days I have a stranger i do get how u feel u have support from my parents but his family r terrible they don't see him as being a BI they think he is fine and back to normal because he can walk and talk,

I'm here if u want to talk take care ur the same as everyone else ur doing fab and unless ur in this situation u won't understand it fully xxxx

My Partner has a lovely family but none of them understand him and his brain injury and the subtle but profound way his BI and other medical condition affect him. All the information regarding head injury was given to his e partner and not to his immediate family or children. They only know what they see ie He looks normal, happy and fine.

No one gives any extra help or support, they ask no question in the family. They are so just glad he as a partner who they see as his carer. Its scary to think what would happen to him on his own, who would take the time to help him he does not need a lot of help but wha he needs is vital. I don't want much just for his family to ask me how do you cope with his head injury is there any help you need. I also like them to ask him as son , father what he finds difficult. His BI is like some hidden secret in the family. He looks ok, happy ect so lets not speak about BI. Even if our relationship did not work out and we did not live together . He is stuck with me for life I will always care for him and do as much as possible what i won't t do self sacrifice more than i want to so that things can be ok for everyone else.

So glad I have this space Thank you all x

The best book I've come across, which gives real insight to the experience and feelingly of someone with a TBI is Jane Lapotaire's Time Out Of Mind.

Many people find it gives them an understanding of what their partner is going through. I'd say an essential read.

Guardian piece on it here:

Hello, how hard for you and your girls. I can fully understand and see that your relationship has changed to the point where it feels like there isn't one. As regards the BI it is still not long after the injury and there is still healing taking place.i would suggest you just go with how he is. He needs someone who knows and loves him. He is likely to be frustrated, overwhelmed, and scared.

I hope that he is having or may have neuro rehab. Talk to Headway about what you are seeing from him.

I spoke with a young woman of 26 who had a head injury, she was in hospital for 3 months. The ward felt safe to her and when she stepped out of it the world became frightened/anxious. She had to get to know the world around her, her parents had to get to know the new her - the parts of her that had changed.

I guess you must be wondering if you will have your husband back, perhaps you are grieving for you partner as you knew and loved him.

Go with it, take each day or half day as it comes, make sure you rest as you can and your partner does not get over tired. Build in rest periods, and keep talking to Headway and here. I wish you all the best xxx

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