Hi. This is a thoughtful question that I appreciate! First, what a young man to have had a stroke. Any reason why that they pinpoint that he had it? Stroke is such a unique journey of recovery for everyone.
I'm glad he is responsive when you bring an issue to him but understand what you mean. Sometimes you just want to talk about it without feeling like you can't because they react so badly to it. I have to say . . . some men are just like this even without a stroke affecting them. Lot so of men are not in tune or can't process emotions very well. I have two sons. One is excellent and the other is seriously lacking at emotional ability to discuss things. I raise them both the same so we are working on it with my second son like it is a skill to be learned. But wow, hard! I think everyone is just wired a bit differently
Add something that may affect us cognitively like a stroke and it complicates that even further.
Does he have mood swings at all? There is something called pseudobulbar affect or PBA that happens to post stroke patients. It involves kind of irrational emotional reactions to things. Unfortunately the main thing to do about that is for your partner to express what upsets him and what doesn't and kind of manage it knowing he will have these emotional outbursts or swings in mood. Is he depressed or angry at all? Those are other common emotional issues after a stroke.
Here's some info that may help you. https://www.saebo.com/coping-emotional-changes-stroke/.
Since you are in a relationship with him, what about a couples counselor to navigate how to talk together about things to improve the relationship but they don't mean the end of the earth either. That may be very helpful.
How are things going? We do have a relationships forum too that has people you can talk to about things and get support. :>))) That is such a shame that they didn't properly diagnose him immediately so that the damage was more severe. That's the thing with strokes, the earlier it is known that it is happening, the more damage they can stop. But perhaps because he was so young they were just not looking at that.
Anyway, is he willing to work with a couples counselor with you? That might be helpful but it would have to be one that understand his issues post stroke and how it's not quite the same as with other people not having that health complication. His brain has changed a bit.
I'm sure he deals with a lot of frustration. His whole life changed dramatically. But I will tell you this, from reading your posts, he is SO lucky to have found you to be in his life. :>)
You say his left side is affected; therefore, he had a right-brain stroke like me back in October 2018. I can tell you from experience that strokes, esp. right side strokes affect emotions.
You must remember that you are dealing with someone with a mental disability and accept them as they are now. You wouldn't get mad at someone with only one leg for walking more slowly than you, would you? Well, maybe you would. Women, in general, are 10 times more in tune with their emotions than men to begin with. So it's hard for you to imagine what it's like for him. So let me help. Imagine that you're getting less than half the sleep you are right now--night after night. How you do think you'd feel and function? You'd probably experience (1) short-term memory problems, (2) mental fatigue, (3) trouble concentrating, (4) irritability, (5) impatience, (6) anxiety, (7) reduced problem-solving ability, (8) frustration, and (9) STRESS. Stress is when expectations exceed abilities.
You have to remember, that stroke victims' brains have been crippled. Just because you can't see the damage doesn't mean that it's not there. Mentally, it's like swimming through molasses--it's very hard and tiring. You say, "I know he cares for me a lot, we really enjoy our time together, and I adore him." So stop with the "it's-all-about-me" mentality. So he's not as emotionally fit as you! Cowgirl up! As for more information, try Googling "emotional problems after stroke". You think I sound mean? After my stroke, I stopped caring!
My husband had a major stroke at age 50, more than a year ago. There are several things to keep in mind. First, while a stroke affects either the right or left side of the brain, it could affect various parts on that side. For example, I believe damage to the frontal lobe connects to emotions. However, it's likely that a person has some amount of damage to multiple parts of the brain, such as the parietal lobe, the temporal lobe, etc. One bit of good news is that the side of the brain NOT affected by the stroke can learn new things and learn how to do what the affected area of the brain used to do. I believe this is called neuroplasticity. The other thing you should think about is this: I think it is common for people to be much more emotional after having had a stroke and for the "naturally expected" emotions to not always be expressed. In the case of my husband, he is much more emotional since his stroke -- many more things upset him and make him cry than otherwise used to before the stroke. For example, watching news on TV of just about anyone dying is now very upsetting to him. We just have to be calm, loving, and understanding. I also try to break news to him that I think may upset him in a very gentle way, and I make sure I'm there with him when I give the bad news. It's also possible that anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication can help. In addition, besides physical, occupational, and speech therapy, doing activities with him that engage the brain in various ways is also extremely helpful. We play some games on the iPad, such as "Chain of Thought," "Left Brain-Right Brain," "Luminosity," and others. I also noticed that my husband has some new interests that he didn't used to have. For example, since his stroke, he loves game shows like Jeopardy. Another important thing is to have a diet meant for a healthy brain and body. My husband has become pescatarian: or vegetarian plus fish, nothing friend, and mostly only quinoa, oatmeal, and 100% whole grain bread. Of course, no refined or added sugars -- only the natural sugar in fruit. Finally, do lots of research in books and on the internet about stroke recovery. Here are some books I have benefited from: Stronger After Stroke, Navigating the Complexities of Stroke, and Healing the Broken Brain: Leading Experts Answer 100 Questions about Stroke Recovery. Just remember to be patient, kind, loving, and keep researching.