Loving a Person With Aphasia

Lauren Marks talked about loving her boyfriend, Jonah, throughout the book. They had their share of difficulties before her aneurysm, but they struggled to get in sync with each other during her recovery. They were still in a stage of figuring out how they fit together when her life changed. Without language, their normal communication issues loomed even larger.

Lauren Marks addressed relationships in our current online book club selection, A Stitch of Time.

Loving Someone With Aphasia

On page 306, Lauren asked: “What is it to love a person with aphasia?” She pointed out the ways their relationship changed after her ability to communicate changed. He assumed things because she couldn’t state her opinion. “In this way, I largely let him dictate the terms of our new relationship, and I doubt that was what he wanted” (p. 307). Rather than sharing the burden of building the relationship, her boyfriend was left making the plans and decisions.

Other Couples

Lauren looked to other couples who navigated a similar situation and noted a set of famous writers who had aphasia intrude on their relationship: “They allowed their shared curiosity to become a propeller taking them into the unknown together.”

In other words, they treated aphasia as another adventure — albeit not an easy one — to move through together. Seeing aphasia as something they shared as opposed one person’s struggle made the difference.

What Should Be vs What Is

Even more important is a factor that affects even relationships without aphasia: how do you view your partner? Do you recognize that your partner is always changing? Do you think there are aspects of another person that are immutable?

Lauren wrote on page 308,

But in long-term companionship, having a fixed image of the person you fell in love with also makes it a constant struggle to see the person who is in front of you in that minute. Preconceived notions of what should be have to confronted with what is. You grow together or you drift apart.

Lauren and Jonah ultimately drifted apart, living on opposite coasts. Their story ends on a tender note, an admittance that even the end of relationships are rarely black and white.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash



  • Eric Denlinger
    February 16, 2018 at 9:46 am

    In other words, they treated aphasia as another adventure — albeit not an easy one — to move through together. Seeing aphasia as something they shared as opposed one person’s struggle made the difference.
    I LOVE this!!!! This is how I feel about what we are going through. I love my girlfriend Laura with all my heart and even when things seemed way worse (a year ago she was diagnosed with leukemia and had a stroke less than a week later and in a coma) I knew I would never want to leave her side. Thankfully, she regained functions like vision and body movement. She was a very respected county prosecutor and now she has to relearn everything and I mean everything. Luckily we have the help of her parents, mostly her mom who has moved in with us to get her to therapy and everything else so I can continue to work. What is scary is that at some point soon she will leave (doesn’t live near us) which Laura and I are excited about. We of course want the life back that we had together before this happened. On the other hand, I will need to help her more and and presumably work less. I know in my heart that we are going to make it somehow through this incredibly difficult adventure because we have each other.

  • Thomas
    October 20, 2019 at 4:38 am

    How can you help a person with Aphasia if they dont wanna try???
    My wife had a massive stroke which led to her Aphasia, and now every time we argue she blames it on her Aphasia. Is it true Aphasia can make people flip ? Name calling, being accused of everything? Or you dont love me cause of Aphasia? I’ve talked to her about saying all those things and also reassure her I only love her always have always will isn’t 34yrs proof enough?? ANY SUGGESTIONS WELCOME

  • Thomas
    October 20, 2019 at 4:50 am

    I try to help my wife with everything I can but it seems like it’s not enough for her. I clean , laundry, take the grandchildren, to school, also pick them up, cook at times. It’s like or should I ask is Aphasia like Torets syndrome?
    Also why when people have strokes the only word they seem to remember is f**k. My brother also had a massive stroke and he lost motion in his right side and arm couldn’t speak well either. He’d always sound like a caveman?
    He’d say me you huh f**k then point to the stores bye our house??

We'd love to hear your thoughts below! Please note: inappropriate comments will be moderated.

Your email is never published nor shared.