Starting Marriage Over After A Brain Injury

Photo credit: Joint Base Lewis McChord / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
Photo credit: Joint Base Lewis McChord / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Who can imagine, when you walk down the aisle with the person you love and want to marry and you speak the vow to promise to love him or her “for better or worse” that the worse would happen? The “worse” would involve staying married to that person who completely changes because of a brain injury —who becomes a stranger to you and you to him or her? No one could anticipate this type of strain on your vows. But of course it happens.

We’d like to share three such true stories with you of those who have lived to tell it to those who want to know.

The first is an article that gives the true life testimony of Floyd and Diana Green (as written by David Boehi) and the traumatic struggles and victories they encountered after an automobile struck them as they were riding their bicycles together.

Not only was the accident traumatic itself, it changed who Floyd was after he gained consciousness. His wife had to learn who her husband had become and learn how to love him none-the-less.

This article is featured on the web site for the terrific ministry of Family Life Today. To read what the Green’s learned through their experiences, please click onto the link provided below:


Another article, written by Alix Kates Sulman, gives great insight into how to care for a loved one who suffers a traumatic brain injury. As the article says, “An injury irrevocably altered their marriage —but not their love.”

Please click onto the link provided below to read:


“Krickitt Carpenter didn’t remember the horrible car crash that would forever change her life, or the 18 months of her life before that fateful evening on Thanksgiving in 1993, or her husband Kimmer.”

To learn about their journey of love and commitment, in an article written by Bonne Stefen, please click onto the Christianity Today web site link below to read:


If you have additional tips you can share to help others in this area of marriage, or you want to share requests for prayer and/or ask others for advice, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.


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92 responses to “Starting Marriage Over After A Brain Injury

  1. Nov.7, 2001 I was in a serious car accident, ultimately acquiring a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. 13 years later I stand much stronger as a Christian woman, wife, mother, friend and mentor. The journey has not been easy. I struggled with feelings of inadequacy, wanting to BE who I “used” to be. God was so patient with me :-)

    Eventually I surrendered everything to Him… He didn’t let me down. When I finally surrendered every part of me to Him and His will, He wiped my eyes with the salve of truth. I am Worthy In His Eyes. I needed to look BEYOND the reflection in the mirror to the Light of the One Who created me. Holding tightly to His hand, my hubby and I dared to take a huge step forward… trusting God to lead us through the foggy pathway ahead. There was no switch in the track to God… in fact His Purpose for my/our lives didn’t change at all.

    In 2012, I wrote a book called, Worthy in His Eyes: Looking Beyond the Reflection in the Mirror. It is very candid, but also very uplifting.

    I also put together a website recently: and have an Inspirational Encouragement blog on it. My motivation was simply born out of the realization that there isn’t much available for Brain Injured Christians, including Christian couples. And, from my personal experience along with talking to others, we Christians really struggle with being honest about our disability –for me, I felt others would think I just didn’t have enough faith to “get better.” Farthest thing from the truth!

    I still have an MTBI and all that it entails, but I also live each day fully because of the promises in Psalm 139. And, my marriage is better than I could have ever dreamed or hoped for, even without a brain injury! Please check out my book and website –I know the difficult journey, I know the strain a newly acquired disability puts on marriage, but I also know there is hope and joy just waiting to fill your life through Christ. ~ Kathleen M. Pritchard

  2. My wife suffered cardiac arrest at home, seven days after our second child was born. Luckily it happened in my presence and I was able to save her life with CPR. Subsequently, she suffered back to back seizures in ICU after the cardiac arrest which caused worse brain injuries.

    It’s been three years now. Her brain injuries have healed to a degree, but still has memory and cognitive issues and gets confused. Her attitude and behavior keeps us inside at home. We cannot go anywhere in public due to her combative and obtrusive behavior. I am deeply saddened by this. I have cared for her with no help for the last three years while raising our kids. I cannot work, I have to stay at home to protect my wife from herself and care for the kids. No one helps us; no one offers help, no one ever calls us. We were left behind by friends and family.

    There is not enough resources for brain injuries and no support. The state of California authorizes my 19 hours a month to be her caretaker for IHSS. I spent that in a day to take care of her, but since I am her husband they won’t pay. They will pay me more hours if we were divorced, the social worker said. So the reward goes to the persons who cheat the system to get paid, and its obviously known per social worker acknowledgment.

    Being married and staying married to care for my wife gets no reward. The state would rather me divorce her so then they can justify a payment to me. All of our stuff is in storage as we live with her non-existent mother for free. I would rather pay to live elsewhere, getting there is a whole other story.

    1. Here’s some food for thought Jeff… is there a Brain Injury Support Group where you live? If there is, check into that resource because they have a tremendous and specialized network to help brain injured persons and their families… not spiritually, but with financial advice and day-to-day coping advice. It may also be a place you and your wife could go together –to get out and interacting with others in a safe place where others experience the same issues your wife does, as well as those who experience the same issues you do.

      The struggles getting physical & financial help is exhausting for you… you can’t do it all alone. If you belong to a church family, let the Pastoral Care know how hard this is for you. I want to share a verse that has helped myself and my husband enormously… read it out loud, together with your wife if that’s possible. If not, then read it yourself every day and/or every time pure exhaustion and questions and frustrations seem overwhelming. Then let the power of God speak to you… fill you… restore you. He is real, His power is real, and the Holy Spirit is real.

      “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. AND THE PEACE OF GOD, WHICH TRANSCENDS ALL UNDERSTANDING, WILL GUARD YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS.” Phil 4:6,7

      Jeff, I have a brain injury, and my hubby and I have gone through tough times also, especially during the first 5 years. Not exactly as you’re experiencing, but difficult, none the less. God will listen to you, He will provide answers, in His time. I don’t want to sound like I’m sugar-coating a trite answer… it’s just that I do know from our experiences, that He is always present, and He is always faithful. And we couldn’t live without asking for, and acknowledging His Presence. I hope this is helpful for you.

      1. Thank you Kathie, for reaching out like this. It is SO helpful when it comes from someone who is living through these types of issues. I pray the Lord helps you, as you reach out to others, and helps you and your husband as you reach out to learn to live a “new normal” (whatever that is). :)

        1. Hi Cindy, Thanks sooo much for your encouragement! We’re still learning after 13 years, but that’s the exciting part (now) –we’re still learning! Sure trudged through a lot of miry pits to get to where we are today, but I believe those pits made us reach up for God’s Hand to pull us out so we aren’t buried in despair.

          I liken it to a situation, which happened a few years ago: As I walked along a secluded coastal bay, I suddenly felt my feet sinking into the sand. I tried to run to get off of it but I couldn’t get one foot out. I began to panic because my foot wouldn’t move and the more I struggled, the deeper my foot sank. I was so scared and pleaded with God to help me. Miraculously, I managed to pull my foot out and scrambled on my hands and knees to a safe spot. My sandal remains buried beneath that quicksand area. I know beyond any shadow of a doubt, that God miraculously pulled my foot free that day.

          This is what I’m trying to say I guess… acquiring a tbi is very much like this real-life example. We can be coasting along pretty good somedays, then suddenly find ourselves being buried beneath a load of can’t do’s, fatigue, frustration and feelings of worthlessness because we can’t DO the things we used to. But God doesn’t want us to be consumed by those things. He reaches out to us, offering hope, faithfulness, progress and most of all, He wants us to know how very valuable we are in His eyes. Worthy enough to save….even all the way to the cross. He loves us that much.

          God sees no disability in us… we do. Rather, God looks at our ABILITIES, and we when surrender everything to Him (including our “new normal”) He can do miracles in and through us… for His glory. That’s an astounding privilege. It’s also an incredible gift. But we have to unwrap it.

          There’s still plenty of “not so fun” situations that arise for us, but we are learning to roll up our sleeves and face them square on because God goes before us, and behind us. That means the miry pits cannot swallow us up… Almighty God will enable us to move forward. ~Kathie (

          1. Kathie, that is a profound illustration. Sometimes situations we are handed seem like they will swallow us up alive. It’s in the struggle that we find ourselves sinking, but when we’re in the position of being on our knees spiritually, it’s amazing how God can help us to survive and sometimes, even thrive.

            You are an amazing woman, Kathie. I pray the Lord blesses you and your husband all the more as you persevere through these situations. I can well imagine that they are anything but “fun.” But it’s in the learning that you will see God all the more, as you lean into Him. Plus, you will be able to encourage others who are struggling in ways that are similar to yours, giving them the hope that they will be able to see God redeem that, which seems unredeemable. Hand in hand, we can do this. May you be blessed.

          2. Cindy, you are awesome. I really appreciate your encouragement too. Peeking through the site I noticed you are a definite encourager and advocate for strong marriages. ;-)

            The Lord is leading us as a couple…together. My husband is an amazing man. He has never once put me down or made me feel less of a person…or woman. Through this journey, we’ve had the privilege of learning what it means to go through very tough times in the valleys, figure out the right trails to keep moving forward and upward as we climb our mountains, and finally, what it feels like to reach the summit and look back at where we’ve been…together.

            Sometimes we end up in the valley of unknowns again, but we’re now very familiar with the pathway to the top (having worn it down several times over!) :-) We’ve shared our story through various avenues and it’s amazing how important my sweetie’s side of the story is to spouses of persons with newly acquired disabilities/brain injuries-parents, siblings, etc. Many times we hear the story of the one who acquired the disability, however brain injury is a family disability.

            Our personal prayer is that God will work through us to help others, particularly married Christian couples, discover the hope that is available through God. I was very excited when I saw this site a while ago because there is very little available for Christian couples who are hurting and groping for answers and hope via other Christians. This is a super important site…and very valuable. May God’s Grace continue to bless everyone who is courageous enough to reach out through this avenue. ~Kathie (

    2. This thought is for Jeff: I completely understand the aftermath that cardiac arrest related brain damage has on a family. The ever increasing isolation not only affects the sufferer but the rest of the family too. It’s intense and painful.

      Medical science is often praised for reviving a patient after cardiac arrest but its the family that lives with the long term consequence.

      The only thing I can say from my own experience is that God is always present even when it neither feels nor looks like He is anywhere in the depths of my despair. He promises that His rod and staff bring comfort.

  3. My fiancé was just involved in an automobile accident. He sustained severe brain injuries and he’s still in a coma. They’ve tried to wake him, but he’s so aggressive they have to keep him somewhat sedated.

    A week before the accident, I moved out. He had been physically and emotionally abusive throughout our relationship, yet I stayed for 5 yrs. The highs were very high and the lows were very low. Although he put me through so much, I still loved him dearly. I have two children from a previous marriage, and the abuse interfered with me seeing my children as often as I wanted to. My ex wouldn’t allow them around my fiancé. So, one day I said enough was enough, and left.

    A week later, I get a phone call that he’d been in a horrible accident. He was drinking and flipped his vehicle, resulting in severe TBI. He’s still in a coma. He’s suffered injuries to left temporal lobe, subdural and epidural hematomas, underwent surgery to control the bleeding in his brain, and a procedure to catch any clots. I was told the two things that would be effected is his learning and speech… and who knows what other problems he’ll face if/when he wakes up.

    His family (who has little knowledge of the abuse) is expecting me to step up and take care of him for the long term, yet because we’re not married, I have no legal rights. I haven’t been to the hospital in the past two days… I’ve been trying to sort out all the loose ends he left me and still take care of my own children.

    The two family members in charge of his care are the two people he didn’t have a relationship with. They took my name off the call list, and changed the password we use to obtain his information from his nurse. I never thought they’d be so hateful at a time like this. I feel like I’m being pushed out right now, yet they want me here long term once he wakes up.

    Not everyone knows about the abuse, and I feel like I’m bailing on him again… but I don’t know how to do this. I was considering working things out with him and had already started moving things back into our home when the accident happened. I’m reading all the comments about how aggressive and nasty people with TBI can become… I couldn’t imagine him being anymore aggressive than he was. If I step back and walk away… I look like I never cared… yet if I stay, I go from being his abused fiancé to his abused caregiver.

    I’m not equipped to handle this, but I don’t know how to walk away… or even if I should. I still love him, and never wanted this for him…but I don’t know what role on supposed to be taking. If he wakes up with memory of me, and I’m not there… I look so cold hearted.

    1. Lynn, I found our situation very similar. I was married, then divorced, then got back together with my ex. He had always been mentally abusive & manipulative. He had several affairs & I always stayed. He was drinking & had an ATV accident causing a severe TBI. Now after 4 years I’m still with him & it’s worse than it was before except he doesn’t drink.

      Please do not feel obligated to take care of him. I have no help. He’s functional but is very mean & now addicted to internet porn & dating sites. I don’t mean to sound cold hearted but I should have left years ago. Now if I do I’m afraid our 20 year old son will feel obligated to care for him & people will think I left because of the disability. Don’t let this be you. I’m 48 years old & feel hopeless.

  4. April 11, 2007 I had an incident at my job and got what is called “Higher Brain Dysfunction” here in Japan.

    Now all the individuals that have posted, and that I have read, so far, have all been treated right away. That made me so happy, and I just want you all to know that it is such a blessing to have that.

    During the time of my incident I was in the military, and I had to do my job the next day after it happened. I had to go about as if nothing happened. I think it was because of that I thought that I was normal, that I was OK. From that day everything changed for me.

    My fiancé didn’t know what had happened because I didn’t tell her, I didn’t think anything was a big deal if I was still doing what I was told, and no one told me to go to the hospital. I wish that I had told her. My fiancé, now wife, is a nurse. If I had told her what happened the next eight years never would have happened.

    My personality changed 180 degrees. I started to turn cold. Reality and delusions melted together. It felt like I wasn’t human, like I was some devil brought to earth to bring pain and despair to everything I touched and what was worse, I was doing that. First it was small misunderstandings, then little white lies, then blatant lies, thefts, addictions, drugs, medications, arson, fraud, and finally conviction and dishonorable discharge from the military. Eleven years of commitment gone. But I had to go through all that to find the answer to why this all was happening.

    After I was discharged I was able to see a civilian psychiatrist that read over my medical record and found this incident, and noticed there was no after care.
    She immediately ordered an MRI and it was found! Like the puzzle made sense.
    Mind you it wasn’t put together, but at least we knew what it should look like. That picture on the front of the box was there for me and my family. That was August 2013.

    Since then it still hasn’t been easy. I will try to write more about the hard times and how WE overcame them. My wife and I are working towards a happy ending, and little by little, day by day, prayer by prayer we get there.

  5. Very good article. For me, I became a head injured spouse after my initial injury in Colorado. Eventually I became a stay at home dad and very involved in my son’s life, being a Cub Scout Den Leader for a few years, a youth baseball coach, youth football coach and a Lacrosse target for my now 13 year old son. It was no longer about me and my life anymore which was welcome and awesome! What I ride it has been!