Family and relationships

Dealing with a spinal cord injury is a big adjustment for you, your family and the people you care about. Good communication and openness in relationships is important and can help to resolve issues that come up.

Relationship issues with family

There’s a lot of uncertainty when you have a spinal cord injury, especially in the early days. Your partner and children may feel stressed and anxious about their new caring responsibilities. They may be trying to work out what you want, how you’re feeling and how much you can talk about your injury. This can cause frustration and tension in relationships.

The common relationship issues we hear are:

  • Not being able to play with your children in the same way, which may make you feel less connected to them
  • Feeling isolated because you have moved to a specially adapted house in a new area
  • Changes in your sex life, which can lead to difficulties with a partner
  • You or your partner feeling isolated if you don’t want to socialise as much as before

If you can, talk to your family about how you’re feeling. See if you can find common ground and address any problems as they come up rather than ignoring them.

You can also talk to our counsellor Ian who has a spinal cord injury. Or speak to the charity Relate which offers relationship counselling.

Having a spinal injury can affect other relationships

A spinal injury can affect your relationships with other people in your life, including friends. At the beginning, you may not want to see your friends as you process what has happened and aren’t ready to talk. Some friends may act awkwardly too as they don’t know what to say. Time can help you all process what has happened

Not being able to do the things that you used to do with friends, like sports, can be extremely difficult. If you can, talk to them about how you’re feeling. 

Having a spinal cord injury affects everyone connected to you in a massive way. Sometimes, problems don’t come up until you’ve lived with them for a while. By talking openly and honestly to each other, you can work on tackling them

Ian Younghusband, our wellbeing and counselling officer