This is a part of the Hot Topic podcast series from the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center on Relationships After TBI. Dr. Jeffrey S. Kreutzer discusses Don’t Let this Horrible Accident Destroy Your Marriage.

Some people have asked about how do you save a marriage, how do you preserve a marriage, how do you help make it a good marriage after the person’s had a brain injury? And I think a little bit about the work that I do with the couples that I work with. And I have this issue come up very often. When people first come in to marital counseling what will happen is the wife will say something like he was the bread winner in our family, he was confident, he was a patient, understanding husband.

Now he can’t balance the checkbook, he’s angry at everyone, I just really don’t like to be with him, in fact I really prefer to be with myself and to be with my friends than to be around my husband. And then I have the husband say something like you treat me like a child, you tell me what to do, you’re always criticizing me. It’s like you used to trust me all the time, now you don’t trust me anymore. And I look at those two people and I feel very sad.

And I say to them with all honesty I say this accident really wasn’t anybody’s fault. It wasn’t anybody’s fault that that truck driver went through the red light and smashed into your car and made it difficult for you to work, difficult for you to balance the checkbook, difficult for you to be patient. It really wasn’t your fault. It would really, really make me sad if your marriage, this marriage that you’ve had, sometimes people say 10, 20, 30 years, it would really, really make me sad if your marriage was also a causality of that accident.

It’s really not your fault. What happened is somebody else’s fault and we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to help you bring all those things that brought you together before to help you recognize those things again, to help... instead of your marriage being a causality of what happened, it would be wonderful if your marriage helped both of you be stronger and helped make your lives better.

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