You are attractive and desirable and have the opportunity to meet people, fall in love, and marry. But relationships are difficult, whether or not you have a spinal-cord injury or disease.
When compared to individuals of comparable age and gender in the general population, research has shown that:
• The divorce rate is higher than normal during the first several years after SCI among people who are marred at the time of injury (1).
• The number of single (never married or divorced) people is higher several years after injury.
• Most people with SCI remain single 15 years after injury.
• Fewer single individuals with SCI will actually marry (2).
People who are in a relationship at the time of injury often question whether they can maintain their relationship. In reality, it is almost impossible to assure the success of ANY relationship. Lasting ones depend on a number of factors such as:
• Personal likes and dislikes
• Common interests
• Long-term compatibility
Considering that about half of all marriages end in divorce, it is obvious relationships are not easy, whether or not a person has SCI.
Most couples face obstacles early after injury. For most adults, pre-injury life is routine, familiar and comfortable. People usually have established views of what they consider “normal” sexual activity, and they generally have defined notions of their relationship. In most cases, pre- and post injury routines are very different. Like many other aspects of life post injury, changes in views and established routines are usually necessary in adapting to life after injury.
The basis for a healthy relationship centers on open communication, learning the facts about life after injury, and having a willingness to adjust views in many areas.
It is normal to have doubts, concerns and questions about relationship-related issues after SCI. Not everyone with SCI needs counseling, but it may be helpful in adjusting to life after SCI when unrealistic views continue to cause problems in your relationships.
Excerpted (with permission) from “The Truth About Relationships,” February 2008 PN. The article was based on information on the Spinal Cord Injury Information Network website, spinalcord.uab.edu.