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.
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.
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