Dealing with your spouse after a stroke - Headway


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Dealing with your spouse after a stroke

Kell39 profile image

My husband had a stroke may 2017 I think he has fully recovered physical but mental things are not the same no more. He has serve depression. Now I feel as if he dont love me anymore. He been back to work since August 2018 and now sometimes he doesn't come home from work and when I ask him where he going or were he been he starts yelling or saying he a grown man and dont have to explain his self. I just dont understand and mentally this is draining me because I dont get the attention and affection I need as far as feeling love or being love. At this point I dont know what to do. Because everything he does wrong he blames it on the stroke.

25 Replies

You know Kell, this stroke has changed your partner and only he knows the extent at the ge moment.

He has a brain injury, it cannot be fixed back to exactly how it was before because some brain cells will have died and that cannot be fixed. He is learning to live with his new self and that will be his main priority. Im sorry, it will take him quite some time to re-adjust and he has gone back to work so will be dealing with all those pressures too.

Brain injury is not widely understood and the media does not help with this, tge younger you are it is likely you can recover more quickly but the extent of the injury and its location has a huge bearing on this.

I was at least 3 years before i even wanted any contact from my husband i was so withdrawn into myself trying to recover some semblance of norm for me and i have been unable to contemplate any kind of work, volunteering may be a possibility but not yet and it will soon be 7 years.

So don’t be hard on your partner, sometimes i think brain injury impacts the nearest and dearest more because its so difficult to understand why your loved one cannot just be like they were before.

Take care of yourself, i am sure your partner does love you as before.

Love Janet x

Kell39 profile image
Kell39 in reply to Kirk5w7

Thank you Janet for responding and I do understand it just now I feel all alone I guess I need a hobby or something to do to feel that void.

steve55 profile image
steve55 in reply to Kell39

no what you need is to get to know about brain injury. you need to find your nearest monthly headway group and either try and get your husband to go with you, so hes in the company of people who really understand what hes going through and you get to meet the darlings who put up with us.

who has said your husband is suffering from severe depression, is the gp because depression can be one of the side effects of a brain injury? is he taking any medication for it?

i had my stroke in 2012, my gp tried to give me anti depressants, i told him where he could stick them and how far, yes i got angry, i wasnt aware of it but i wasnt depressed.

i was referred to a psychiatrist and a neuro psychiatrist. i have since been diagnosed with opd which along with my brain injury, caused by my stroke, means my moods will always be unpredictable.


Kell39 profile image
Kell39 in reply to steve55

Thanks Steve55 and yes hes taking depression pills

steve55 profile image
steve55 in reply to Kell39

im not the same person i was who went to sleep on the 17 feb 2012 and woke up having had a stroke which affected my left hand side. that is the hardest thing to admit to yourself.

your husband doesnt even realise hes being horrible to you, i dont until my wife tells me off, but i can accept that now because i know im a different person, your husband isnt ready to admit that yet, its only been 19months and as far as brain injury is concerned thats no time at all.


Kell39 profile image
Kell39 in reply to steve55

Thanks for helping me understand from a man point of view I'm going to do some research and try my best with patience but I'm not about to let nobody talk crazy to me lol I have to learn he is not the same person anymore

Hetty56 profile image
Hetty56 in reply to Kell39

Hi Kell39

My son suffered a TBI in January this year. He was 22 years old. As Janet said the younger you are the better the recovery can be and true to form his physical recovery is going really well. He was ‘encouraged’ back to work in April and rushed through the phased return to full time - they didn’t seem to understand the seriousness of his injury. Anyway I digress! The main issue we’re left with is depression and the biggest battle with that has been and still is getting Sam to see that and to take advice. He has a doctors appointment this morning for a review and I’m trying to encourage him to take exercise because that’s a great help. These things do take time but it is painful for us to watch and feel helpless. After a meeting with a lady from Headway we decided that visits to our local centre weren’t what Sam needed but I speak to them whenever I’m particularly worried and they are great. I also look after myself - at the same time I was trying to cope with an ageing and unwell mother while trying to keep Sam’s injury from her and it takes its toll. I take Sertraline which helps me cope so that I can support Sam in the best way possible.

While you’re supporting your husband please remember to look after yourself. Maybe a hobby as you suggest but think whether speaking to Headway or seeing your own GP may help

Good luck

Heather x

Kell39 profile image
Kell39 in reply to Hetty56

Thank you so much for your story if feels good to know that their other people having the same problem or situation

steve55 profile image
steve55 in reply to Kell39

theres a book you may find interesting its called within touching distance by james cracknell and his wife beverley?

its the comparison of how 2 people saw a tbi recovery. james cracknell was an olympic gold medalist who was cycling on a road in the states when he got struck by a lorry, its the story of the problems the non tbi partner can come across.


Kell39 profile image
Kell39 in reply to steve55

Thanks Steve about to look it up

TaIaV profile image
TaIaV in reply to Kell39

Yes, understanding more with the help of this community and your local groups will surely help you with the big picture. The knowledge about TBIs will help you know that your husband's outbursts are not meant personally. Nevertheless, you are left with how to react and how to take care of your own mental and emotional health.

As you noted, it is not good for you to simply accept any and all verbal aggression. One suggestion is to help his gradual process of becoming more capable by letting him know when he is being hurtful -- without blaming him, without raised voices, without requesting an immediate reaction, just informing him that although it may be the injury that is causing it, his words are making you feel hurt. It may not have an immediate effect, but it will give him some useful input that may help him exercise more control as he becomes capable of it, and you will feel better having made your feelings known in a kind way.

So sorry you have temporarily lost this major source of love and caring. If you dod not have other family to help fill that void, perhaps volunteering with children or animals might help. I hope that you find the independent sources of affirmation, enjoyment and strength to weather the healing period.

Kell39 profile image
Kell39 in reply to TaIaV

Yes I will find a hobby thanks for the advice

Hetty56 profile image
Hetty56 in reply to Kell39

Think of it as more than a hobby. Try to involve yourself in something that you can immerse yourself in - as TalaV suggested working with children or animals who have a real need for what you can offer. It will give you strength. I also agree about making him aware that he is hurting your feelings. I try to do this with Sam in the hope that it will take his attention away from himself - if only momentarily

MommaStack profile image
MommaStack in reply to TaIaV

What a beautiful post. I'm just now seeking more input, my husband had his strokes in Feb 2019, then heart tx in Nov 2019. It feels like we are roommates and buddies. So I am looking to make a better connection! Thanks for the advice

TaIaV profile image
TaIaV in reply to MommaStack

I am surprised and so glad you found some value in my somewhat aged post :).

Your characterization of how your relationship feels is astute. It is easy for a caregiver role to edge out the role as a spouse. I find that it takes some effort to remember to say the words, make the eye contact or give the simple touch that remind both of us that we are more than buddies.

All the best in your journey,


I'm feeling the same in a friendship than relationship. My fiance had a TIA in November , he recovered well and getting back into work slowly, which is great . The only downside he's lost his affection and intimacy along the way , i know I have to learn to be patient but its hard at times !! We've spoke to each other about our feelings and he is aware that there's no sexual, emotional connection there , all he knows he loves me dearly . Tough times , I suppose patience is the key

Hello Kingfisher, I'm sorry to hear about your fiance and that your emotional and sexual connection seems gone at the moment. I'd take some comfort from him saying he still loves you though.

I can only speak from having had concussions - but hope it might help you a little. I think there's a few things that might be affecting him, on the emotional or physical front, that potentially could be resolved.

First thing to think about is that, in terms of any neurological event, November isn't very long ago - so a bit more time might help.

Then the other thing is that even just having a TIA, or any sudden health shock/ scare is a profound emotional shock - in terms of things like how you regard yourself (particularly if fit and healthy before - a big hit to your self-image) this would be bound to have an, albeit temporary, impact on his libido. It would help if he could talk to someone about this - a first step would be one of you contacting the Headway helpline on 0800 808 2244 - they can also point you towards sources of help.

Has he been put on any new drugs since the TIA? It would be worth him talking to his GP / consultant about these - in case they are having unwanted side effects - because better options can usually be found.

Lastly, brain injury is frequently associated with depression and / or what's called mild dysthmia . From experience, this can have a bad effect on intimacy and emotional connection - quite often not 'feeling' anything - and talking therapy, and possibly antidepressants can and do change this (unfortunately antidepressants can mute sexual performance - but so can depression - and it is important to not be depressed for many aspects of daily life). Just a thought anyway - he's had a profound shock, and a sympathetic psychologist or neuropsychologist might help him process what's happened to him.

Hoping things get better for you. Perhaps start a new post on here for more support and info from our community? Let me know how things go.

Jen 🌸 x

Brain chemistry can become out of balance - his doc can check his serotonin levels.


Hi kell I'm sorry to hear how things are going with you at the moment I don't know how severe your husbands stroke was but the changes in the brain sometimes don't return to pre-stoke levels but if things are getting between try suggesting you both go to the doctor to find a answer to the problem! You also need to seek help to for your self as you have been on this journey to you've been there with him since the start and you need to seek help also take care All the best 🍀

Hetty56 profile image
Hetty56 in reply to Celtic27

I totally agree with you

Thanks alot

Celtic27 profile image
Celtic27 in reply to Kell39

Your welcome whilst I've not had a stroke I can understand were. You both coming from I had a brain haemorrhage 6 years ago and I caused me a lot of problems even now I have short term memory loss! I sincerely wish you both the best please message me if I can help david

Kell39 profile image
Kell39 in reply to Celtic27

Thanks alot just read people advice and comments is enough...and more

I am sorry you're having to go through this experience and major life change. I sustained a brain injury and can only say my wife is a champion to be able to deal with me. That said, you definitely need to take care of yourself and your needs the best you can, so you can feel as whole as possible. When you're able to do that, you will be better able to deal with your new post brain injury husband. Know it is not your fault, whatever he is experiencing, feeling or otherwise. No need to take credit for any of what he may be blaming you for. If he is anything like me, he is extremely frustrated with not being able to do life like it once was and not knowing how to do those things the same or not at all anymore. I'm 5 years post injury and have finally been able to accept, at least some parts of, how my new life is. I wish the both of you love and peace on your continued journey.

I feel for you , wonderful advise from previous replies , my son 23 had a brain injury as a baby an behaviour is the main difficulty for him and me , but he is less aware of its impact ...I totally agree knowledge , patience and self care are a priority and headway and stroke association are great...I too agree that head injury has a massive impact on people's lives but is so not supported recognised by the media or funding so much as other conditions ...your are not alone and this is a wonderful forum for offloading , sharing and getting advice and support good luck and big hug x

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