How Marriages Can Change Following Stroke

University of Alberta study investigates changing roles

A PhD candidate at the University of Alberta has studied how marriages change after stroke, and her findings identified three key phases for affected couples.

“The assumption most people make is, ‘I didn’t sign up for this,’” said Sharon Anderson, the lead author of the study and PhD candidate. “Life has changed, and you have to decide how you’re going to manage in that situation.”

The three phases were identified as:

  • The initial feeling of being overwhelmed
  • Resolving conflict
  • Perceiving value in the marriage

Anderson, herself the wife of a stroke survivor, recalled her own experience when her husband suffered a stroke at the age of 46. Initially not considered a candidate for rehabilitation because of the severity of the stroke, her husband now enjoys life despite hemiplegia.

She broke her thesis into three parts: Marriage after the Transition to Stroke: A Systematic Review; Reconciling Marriage and Care after Stroke; and Staying married after stroke: A constructivist grounded theory qualitative study.

“The way people recover from stroke is by doing things—you learn by doing,” Anderson said. “Let them do things for themselves—they’ll get better and better at it. It acknowledges that life is harder, but we also have some successes here.

Her complete paper can be viewed here.

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