5 Ways TBIs Can Lead to Divorce - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

5 Ways TBIs Can Lead to Divorce

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Any serious illness or injury is bound to place strain on a marriage. Statistically, however, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) has a very high likelihood of leading to divorce. According to some reports, the percentage of couples who divorce following TBI may be as high as 48 to 78 percent.

Understanding the different reasons why people separate after TBI gives couples the opportunity to effectively mitigate common challenges. With the right services and support, it may be possible to both preserve your marriage and thrive in it.

1. The Financial Strain of TBI

Just as divorce rates for TBI are high, the rate of unemployment among those living with these injuries is high as well. This often leaves uninjured spouses with more bills to pay and they need to take on second jobs or find sources of supplementary income. Depending upon the severity and effects of TBI, the costs of caring for the injured spouse can be extraordinary.

The added medical expense comes in addition to the sudden loss of the injured party’s income, as well as any property damages or losses that were sustained in the accident that caused TBI. It’s also important to note that many insurance companies won’t cover the costs of therapy, and may even debate certain essential medical services.

Thus, one of the best ways to bolster and support a marriage after any event that leads to TBI is to contact a car accident lawyer. Obtaining a fair settlement for all losses, and for the ongoing costs, pain and suffering of TBI can take a tremendous amount of stress off of a relationship.

2. TBI Victims Can Experience Significant Changes in Personality

Suffering a serious brain injury often diminishes a person’s self-esteem. There are many things that TBI sufferers are no longer able to do for themselves, their spouses, or their children. This alone can make it difficult for an injury victim to feel comfortable and confident in any relationship.

However, low self-esteem is hardly the only personality change that TBI sufferers are likely to undergo. Some of the most common psychological symptoms of TBI include:

  • Mild to severe anxiety
  • Chronic depression
  • Mood swings
  • Prolonged and frequent bouts of irritability
  • Social anxiety

The causes of these changes can be both psychological and physiological which makes them difficult to address. People living with TBI are often fearful of becoming burdensome to their loved ones, frustrated with the magnitude and permanency of their losses, and struggling to adapt to their “new normal”. The empathy and support of a caring spouse is not always enough to cut through this distress.

In fact, while TBI sufferers are still grieving their losses and adapting to change, they may actually lash out in response to support. These changes can be especially difficult to deal with when the injured party was formerly optimistic, proactive, charismatic, and generally unflappable. Many people married to those with traumatic brain injuries often feel as though they’re living with strangers.

3. Partners Can Feel Like They’re Navigating the World Alone

Marriage is designed to be an equally supportive union in which both parties are benefitting from their shared lives. Each partner should be able to turn to the other for comfort and support during times of distress. Sadly, even as TBI sufferers need more patience and help from their partners, they are often unable to offer these things in return.

In addition to feeling financially stressed, overworked, and over-challenged all-around, a TBI sufferer’s spouse can also deal with a pervasive sense of loneliness and neglect. Over time, this may lead uninjured spouses to seek support in other relationships or to simply long for a return to normalcy, regardless of how this return can be achieved.

4. TBI Can Cause Prolonged Bouts of Depression and Argumentativeness

Depression is common among TBI victims. It can take a long time to adapt to losses inability, and considerable lifestyle changes. When people lack effective strategies for dealing with depression, or when they struggle to move through the grieving process, they often use anger to express their distress.

Frustration and argumentativeness can be both related to depression and their own separate issues. It is frustrating to lose the ability to maintain your profession, to take full charge of your personal care, and to engage in many of your favorite activities. Sadly, TBI can make people lash out at those closest to them when they lack the skills, cognitive abilities, and resources, for developing and leveraging other coping tactics.

This is why both those living with traumatic brain injury and their partners are encouraged to join support groups, and enroll in individual and couples therapy. These services teach couples how to cope safely and successfully, without becoming verbally, emotionally, or even physically abusive or neglectful to one another.

5. Partners of TBI Sufferers Seek to Regain a Sense of Normalcy

Many people leave their partners after TBI in an effort to save themselves. After a traumatic brain injury, both parties must be committed to making the marriage work. Moreover, ensuring that the union is beneficial to both parties and that no one is experiencing undue stress takes tremendous and continued effort on each side.

When one person is shouldering the financial responsibility of maintaining the household, assisting the injured party with basic needs and activities, and making a concerted effort to assist with the grieving and adjustment processes, caregiver burnout will eventually occur.

Leaving a difficult and unsupportive marriage is never easy. Spouses of those with TBI often suffer tremendous guilt and an equally strong sense of loss. In some instances, however, leaving may be the best choice for preserving one’s own mental and emotional health, particularly when those living with TBI are neither willing nor able to work on salvaging the relationship.

For some parties, separating appears to be the only way to return to their careers, rejoin the dating pool, and start making their own lives and happiness a priority.

Traumatic brain injury places an incalculable amount of stress on marriages. While the rate of divorce post-TBI is high, there are numerous strategies that couples can use to make their marriages last. Seeking monetary compensation to alleviate financial strain, finding the right forms of support, and making full use of individual and couples counseling are all effective ways to mitigate challenges.


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