Counselor Provides Tips for People with Brain Injury and Their Partners to Reconnect on Valentine’s Day
Communication is key, so set aside time for it.
After brain injury, many couples go through dramatic relationship changes. Some of these changes can be in responsibilities, roles, communication, personality, and physical or sexual intimacy. Because of the role changes and the added stress from these changes, it is important to learn new ways of connecting after brain injury. So let’s take this Valentine’s Day and think about how to reconnect.
Communication is key.
- Set aside a time. it can be as little as five to 10 minutes to an hour – where you and your partner can take a break from responsibility to connect as a couple. Depending on the severity of the brain injury, this time may be spent sitting quietly and touching a shoulder, hand and face.
- Listen patiently to one another. The listening may be non-verbal. Perhaps a gesture, nod, eye contact or touch.
- Compliment rather than criticize. This can range from “Your eyes are so pretty” to complimenting your partner either verbally or non-verbally on the changing roles and responsibilities your partner has taken on.
- Show appreciation. Thank one another for all that your partner does. It can be as simple as making you smile or as difficult as making a meal.
- Laugh together. See the humor in the most outrageous situation and join together in laughter.
- Acknowledge role changes. Be respectful of how your partner does the role differently or ask your partner’s advice on how they performed the role. Compliment your partner to adapting to changing roles.
- Connect. Physical connection can range from a gentle kiss, lying next to one another, touching and sex. Both partners need to be in agreement how much physical connection he/she finds comfortable or comforting. Be respectful of your partner’s comfort level.
Now that you have some connection suggestions, try taking at least five minutes a day to try one of these reconnection tips so every day can be Valentine’s Day!
TERRI KOHN, LPC, is a counselor in Shepherd Center’s Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program. She has practiced counseling at Shepherd Center for 18 years. Terri has a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling.
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 935 inpatients, 541 day program patients and more than 7,300 outpatients each year.