In the aftermath of a serious accident, the challenge of maintaining connection with your partner may be an unexpected challenge. The pileup of stressors from your injuries, loss of income, dealing with lawyers and insurance companies, and just the trauma of the experience can create unexpected barriers in even the best relationships. And it’s easy to feel guilty about being less available or more needy in your relationship, thereby exacerbating the problem.
There are a few simple things you can do to mitigate these challenges:
- Maintain open, clear, and kind communication. If possible, check in with each other daily about what is going on in your lives, what you appreciate about each other, and how you can be helpful to each other going forward.
- Offer your time to each other. Too often, we get caught up in the assumption that if our partners aren’t asking us for anything, they don’t need anything from us. But mutual giving and caring in relationships works most effectively when we are mindful to both ask for and offer our emotional and instrumental support. Do both daily.
- Don’t disregard your physical relationship. In the aftermath of a serious accident, changes to your physical relationship are certainly to be expected. But that part of your relationship doesn’t have to come to a complete standstill. Make sure to touch each other in loving ways – and not just in ways that are related to physical caretaking to address the injuries. Hold each other’s hands, give affectionate touches and pats as you pass each other in the kitchen, and share several kisses every day. Physical touch is a powerful way to remind each other of your emotional presence.
- Ask for outside help if you need it. A skilled couple therapist can assist you in addressing the stress you are experiencing as a result of your accident. Seek a licensed couple and family therapist, whose experience in addressing communication and intimacy challenges can be an asset to your collective healing process.
You don’t have to let a personal injury create undue burden in your partner relationship. With these simple tips, your relationship may even emerge stronger on the other side of this experience.