aphasia changes relationships

Has Aphasia Changed Your Relationships?

Aphasia can change your relationships. Families need to adjust to a new normal, and friends sometimes drift away when communication becomes time consuming.

But the other side is that aphasia leads you to people you would have otherwise never met, from other participants in support groups to members of your therapy team. Moreover, it can bring two people closer together as they spend time together trying to forge a new life.

aphasia changes relationships

New Friends

Experiencing aphasia can make you feel a little bit like Alice entering Wonderland, not only in the sense that it’s not readily apparent how you’ll ever get home to your old life. Your day-to-day world will be filled with many new characters including doctors, speech therapists, and social workers.

You’ll meet even more people if you join a support group or an aphasia therapy group. No one wants to experience aphasia, but it is heartening to meet other people who are going through the same thing at the same time.

Old Friends

Susan Bluhm, a nurse, explains in the book The Word Escapes Me,

I learned that life has a way of humbling us very quickly, life has a way of connecting us to one another, and life has a way of helping us find the common denominator in each of us.

Like all crises, aphasia has a way of strengthening bonds between people just as much as it has a way of unmooring friendships. Though some people will drift away, others will not only stick around but will come up with clever ways to connect and communicate.

Old Loves

Aphasia can test a relationship or marriage. Communication, a key piece of couplehood, is suddenly inaccessible. It means that partners will need to find unique ways to connect, including finding ways so that neither party experiences care-giver or care-receiver burnout.

Some couples may split apart due to the stress of the situation, but many others will see their marriage grow and deepen as they lean on each other to get through aphasia.

How have your relationships changed due to aphasia? Whom have you met or grown closer to due to the experience?

Image: Christopher via Flickr via Creative Commons license



  • Ethel manzano
    March 21, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    In my experience as a speech language pathologist , i saw some couples that mantein close, and others that turn apart! I have to prepare miself more so i could help them in this area also.

  • Jo-Ann perillo
    March 22, 2017 at 8:38 am

    A after my husband’s stroke in 2007 it was a huge adjustment for our entire family. With two grown children away at college we were at a point in our marriage where we were just starting to gain our independence. It was quiet difficult in the beginning more so for him I love this man and the courage and strrgenth he shows me everyday is amazing.

  • Maria
    April 17, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    I have recently started a relationship with someone with aphasia. We met 10 years ago but things didn’t work out because we lived in different countries. Now we have reconnected (still living away from each other), and the feelings are back and stronger. He had a stroke nearly 3 years ago. And suffers from aphasia. We are reasonably young and we want to have a family together. As I am so far away from him at the moment, I can’t even tell of that is possible. The fact that he has aphasia doesn’t scare me, but I would like to know more about the day to day life. Is there anyone woth young children that could tell me about it?

  • Ivelisse
    October 16, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    I wish i knew how to communicate with my mother . We live far from each other and i facetime her and tell her all sort of stories so she could feel connected but i wish i could figure out how ro understand her and have her feel listened to. She cant write either so please anything i could look into to help her. I will appreciate that.

  • Sandy Vincent
    October 28, 2017 at 7:24 am

    After my husband stroke it took me months to realize that just because he has a Aphasia doesn’t mean he’s a different person. I found myself treating him different and feeling as if “Walking on egg shells ” I could see a diffence in our relationship.
    My husband only 57 yrs old at the time and me in my late 40’s , we were young and had so much more living to do ! So much more loving to do ! I needed to look outside the box and so to speak “Stop a smell the roses” . Patience is the key !! Give him time , time to speak time to feel and time to adjust. We always knew what the other was thinking prior to his stroke so why would that change after? I had to remind myself he’s still the same man , he’s still my Eddie ,
    Today , almost 4 yrs later our relationship is stronger then ever. It was a struggle and some days are still difficult but we learn as we go and we love & understand each other more with the support of family and a wonderful medical team but most importantly Patience!

  • Kern Elsandirs
    November 12, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    I have my Stokes 4 times, Aphasia is tuff. I can talk fine, I can walk fine, but my wife and my kids get sick of me taking to them, I am only nice, I think I am the nicest person they love me and I , but I don’t no why but now they want me to leave, the only thing I do is help then all I smile, I clean up.
    But they are still basically being me to leave.
    I cannot read books or text, so I use speech to text, and text to speech. And it is hard for me to catch conversation fast, but my kids and my wife gets mad when I ask to please repeat slower, so that I will catch it. They usually yell and say “never mind” when I just wanted to understand. I am very sad that I will end up on my way.

  • Tt kb
    November 13, 2017 at 4:19 am

    KERN ELSANDIRS – We love you. It is midnight and I am still awake, crying, searching online to find a way to save us. That is how I saw your post. We are trying just to stay afloat emotionally. Please be patient while we adjust to aphasia. You have had thousands of hours learning to cope. We haven’t had any so we are struggling to figure it out alone. But we love you and we are trying.

  • Anonymous
    March 9, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    My husband is suffering severe post stroke Aphasia
    Our life has been turned upside down. Sometimes he seems to understand me
    But most of the time his reply is mostly gibberish
    It’s only been 6. weeks since his stroke but the change for me has been difficult.
    I wish I had my lovely husband back to how he was but he will never be the same
    Can someone reassure me in time things will get better

  • Glenda
    May 10, 2018 at 3:00 am

    Reading these all messages my tears is running down.This is what happening me now.My husband had a massive stroke a year ago.He lost his speech been hard for us.Not only the speech also his behaviour is shocking.I felt that his angry with me.I cried every day sometimes i just want to give up.But I still cares him.I didn’t feel now that I’m wife anymore.All Just felt now is I’m a career.But have to be strong for our 9 years old girl.😥

  • Gtreg
    September 24, 2018 at 5:24 am

    while the words are worse…ther sentiment is trying to be expressed, and those suffering aphasia can be frustrating of the inability of explaining tto hey’re partners of their emotional aspects. They may have memory still, of how they were able to express previous a “issue”.

  • Lisa
    December 10, 2018 at 5:27 am

    My fiance suffers from pretty severe Aphasia. He suffered 2 strokes that happened 3 years apart (2004 and 2007). His 2nd stroke left him with Aphasia and it’s pretty difficult to communicate. Much he is is loving, generous, beautiful heart,
    But Aphasia causes fights and emotional turmoil. His communication is so affected.

    Much of thime he is is loving, generous, beautiful heart, sweet and gives back to Community. He has introduced me to fabulous opportunities at our church.

    His communication is so severe, he doesn’t understand most of what is said to him. He hears sentences get garbled at most times so you need to be looking at him for him to understand. Words he says are mixed up like he and she, numbers, times, days of the week, dates, etc. Alot more.. He also gets extremely, crazy angry at the smallest issues then pouts and withdraws emotionally for a day usually. He suffers some bit loss of present memory memory and says things one way that doesn’t make much sense and when you try to clarify he swears he said something else and it’s me not hearing him right, but aphasia never comes up. He constantly blames me for not hearing him but mostly he’s confusing to talk with.
    Very frustrating for both of us and I go crazy with it even though I know he can’t help it. I spend so much time repeating and explaining myself. I’m blamed for mixed communication and he swears he said something one way but he clearly didnt. Sometimes he is bossy and it’s his way or the highway. He has to be right all the time. He doesn’t take any responsibility because of apasia.I could go on and on but I mainly want to know how we can work threw this. Any online forums for family to discuss how aphasia is affecting their lives to the point of unhappiness? I like this site too! Please help. Thank you

  • Lisa Payakov
    December 10, 2018 at 5:32 am

    I relate to these comments shared so much! I posted but it’s not on here?

  • Indigo
    February 22, 2019 at 6:32 am

    Try to ride the waves and try to be understanding, but don’t – whatever you do – neglect to make sure you take time away from the situation. In whatever possible way imaginable. Give yourself a break sometimes and keep in mind that peopl closest to the person with Aphasia will be exposed to the (early – first 6 to 9 months in my case) frustration & anger), because they feel they can at least release some at such moments with real loved ones, while trying to go along and not upset anybody in the medical & therapy treatment run around. Walk away, or scream for a bit. God I did plenty of that, but don’t hold grudges. It’s just both of you coming to terms with how your lifes how been completely turned up side down. Aphasia is so terrible difficult on both the person with it and the special other half. Give both of you time to adjust from grief & hopefully looking forward to a different future than you probably had imagined before.
    It does get easier though!! I feel that if your relationship was solid to begin with you will get through this, though it can feel extremely lonely at times, because both of you have lost the mate with whom communication used to be so easy.
    Make sure that the person with Aphasia continues speech therapy for as long as is possible. Never give up, as my partner is still improving his communication skills more than 5 years following his stroke.
    Take care you all xx

  • Katherine
    May 17, 2019 at 10:25 pm

    My sweet husband had a stroke 12 years ago. Result: Aphasia. Lots of therapy with professional and at home with flash cards and kids books and primers. Aphasia is compounded by hearing loss. For a long time I had patience but now I just don’t want to repeat myself any more. I’m tired of explaining everything. I just want his elegance of thinking back, his sophistication, his subtlety. I love him but I get angry easily. I try to tell him to let it go but he insists I repeat myself. I hate myself for being so impatient with him.

  • Dai
    September 14, 2019 at 9:49 am

    Just found this site and read the posts I was actually looking for info as to why friends just can’t be bothered anymore. My wife had a hemorrhagic stroke in 2015 and has Aphasia quite badly as well as being partially paralysed on one side, we’ve also done the flash cards and early readers as well as all the other exercises that become necessary to make inroads towards some recovery. I’ve been at the almost screaming stage and also hate myself for not being patient enough but the strain that comes with the ‘territory’ is immense.

    Good luck to all you just embarking on this journey which is hard and rocky but when my wife tells me she loves me right out of the ‘blue’ and her voice is the same as it was before the stroke I know it’s all worthwhile.

  • Elizabeth
    October 24, 2019 at 11:44 am

    My friend and love of my life recently had a stroke that left him speechless. We are not married and saw each other often as well as text each other everyday until he was struck with this awful illness, He has been in the hospital since Oct. 1 of this year, He was found in his apartment room after having the stroke for 2 days and was rushed to the hospital. The left side of his body is mobile and the right side is not. I visit him in the hospital and most of the time, when I come into his room, he gives me a disgusted look on his face which says to me that he does not want me to be there. He is getting better day by day and seems to communicate better with other people. I keep telling myself that the reason for him not wanting to see me is thayt maybe he doesn’t want me to see him that way. Should I blame his attitude on his illness and not take it personally? Can someone give me some advise?

  • Dai
    November 17, 2019 at 8:37 am

    Elizabeth, a stroke is shattering for all concerned and losing the ability to speak must be amongst the worst for the victim. My only qualification is that I have cared for my wife since her release from hospital in 2015 and I have experienced similar issues like my wife will ‘chat’ with total strangers but with me her replies are often yes or no. Aphasia is cruel and takes away the basic ability to communicate but it often comes back with time so please persevere and don’t do what has happened to us when our friends simply couldn’t be bothered to keep in touch anymore.

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