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Adjusting to change in your relationship

If you or your partner has been diagnosed with a brain tumour, it’s natural for your relationship to change. The new practical and emotional challenges can put a strain on even the healthiest of relationships.

Adjusting to your new role as a carer, rather than just being someone’s partner, is difficult for many people. Particularly for couples where this is a big change. For those diagnosed, there’s often guilt over feeling like a burden and anxiety about their partner leaving. And the fear they’d be happier if they did.

Talking about these feelings can ease the strain, but what if the tumour or its treatment are making it difficult to communicate? If the areas of the brain responsible for speech and language are affected, finding new ways of communicating effectively can take significant time and patience.

Personality changes are common for those affected by brain tumours. After experiencing mood swings, aggressive behaviour or loss of inhibition, people often report their partner feels like a completely different person to who they fell in love with.

The new Relationship Support Service is the most flexible and personal service I've ever experienced. It's tailor made for my needs and the situation of a partner living with someone with a brain tumour.

Read Brendan's story

Brandon's partner experienced low moods following her brain surgery and the couple realised it was becoming difficult to jointly care for their daughter. Conflicts at home seemed compounded by lockdown.

Brandon found life a challenge and said he often felt tearful and was struggling to access support from his network because he felt he didn't want to burden them. That's when we introduced him to our new relationship service which Brandon says has been a great help;

"It has been really supportive. I've felt understood and backed. I've felt the therapist has been really there for me.

"It's relieved some pressure and given me a space to explore my emotions without worrying what the other person thinks or worrying that I need to protect them.

"I've had around half the allocated sessions and its been agreed I can reserve the remaining ones for as and when I need them - I feel this may be soon as my partner is due to have surgery in the next two months.

"It's the most flexible and personal service I've ever experienced, tailor made for my needs and the situation of a partner living with someone with a brain tumour."

Whether you’re currently in a relationship, or hoping to start a new one, our partnership with Relate can help you get the most out of your relationships. If you think talking to someone might help, click the link below to find out more about our new Relationship Support Service.

It’s often uncomfortable, as you adjust to your relationship changing after a brain tumour diagnosis. It’s natural to feel sad about losing what you had or grieve for the loss of the future you’d planned together.

You don’t need to go through this alone though. Relate offers a wide range of content to help people experiencing relationship difficulties and we’ve teamed up with them to provide a counselling service for couples and individuals whose relationship has been affected by a brain tumour.

Find out more

We know that, sadly, some people in our community have seen changes in their loved ones that have led to them being violent or aggressive, although this is rare. 

These changes can seem even more worrying in the current situation, but it’s important to remember that if this is something you’re experiencing, your safety is paramount and the current social distancing (or isolation) rules don’t apply if you need to leave your home to escape domestic violence.

If you feel you’re at risk of abuse, remember there’s help and support available, including police response, online support, helplines, refuges and other services.

You are not alone!

Find out more

This content and our relationship counselling service have been created in partnership with Relate, the leading relationships charity in England and Wales. If you found this information useful, you might also find the following resources by Relate interesting:

This content and our relationship support service have been created in partnership with Relate - the leading relationships charity in England and Wales.

Get support

If you need someone to talk to or advice on where to get help, our Support and Information team is available by phone, email or live-chat.

If you have further questions, need to clarify any of the information on this page, or want to find out more about research and clinical trials, please contact our team:

Support and Information Services

0808 800 0004 (free from landlines and mobiles)

support@thebraintumourcharity.org

Phone lines open Mon-Fri, 09:00-17:00

You can also join our active online community - Join our online support groups.