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Talking with Your Spouse or Charlie Brown's Teacher? Miscommunication in Couples After Brain Injury

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Author: 
Dawn Neumann
Published Date: 
18 September 2013
Publication: 
Brainline.org
Original article: 

The dam finally broke for Christine as she shared with the group her mounting frustrations towards her husband, Mark. “Since his car accident, every time I talk with my husband I get the impression I must sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher,” she said. “Repeatedly, I try to explain my thoughts and feelings to him, trying to make him understand what I’m going through. I feel that I must be insane. Otherwise, why would I keep doing the same thing over and over expecting to get a different response? I’ve explained a million times how I feel, so why won’t he change? I can only assume from his lack of a response, he must not love me anymore because if he cared, he would try to make me happy.”

Anyone ever feel like Charlie Brown’s teacher when talking with your spouse or partner?

No doubt you have heard before that good communication is the foundation for a good relationship. Without good communication, relationships are as vulnerable as a house of cards, struggling to withstand even the slightest breeze. Communication is often a challenge for most couples, but after a brain injury, couples are even more susceptible to problems with miscommunication. Largely, the miscommunication we often see after brain injury tends to revolve around the couple’s inability to share and understand each other’s emotions and needs.

“When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”
- Fred Rogers

Christine was trying to share her fears and needs with her husband, looking for him to communicate support and understanding, only to be met with a blank stare. Christine felt very alone in their relationship. Instead of soothing her emotions, they were only worsened.

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