When you or your spouse are caring for an aging parent, the added stress can put a real strain on your relationship. Trying to juggle caregiving duties along with a job and household can cause negative feelings like frustration and resentment. Every couple needs a refresher from time to time on why they first fell in love- especially when taking care of other family members. Here are some reliable ways to do that and to safeguard your marriage while caregiving.
Sources of Caregiver Marital Strain
Nobody ever said that marriage was going to be easy. Caring for an aging parent or in-law that you may not even see eye-to-eye with can be stressful and frustrating. Trying to manage both relationships simultaneously will bring any festering marital stress out in the open.
If you’re not careful, caregiving can negatively affect the relationship you have with your spouse in these ways:
- Creating tension and conflict in the marriage and with other family members involved in your loved one’s care
- Exacerbating mental and physical fatigue
- Creating a financial burden on the household
- Cutting into time spent together as a couple, and time spent on other family matters like childcare and housework
- Leading to other things for you disagree about
Persistent marital stress can permanently damage your relationship and jeopardize your health and wellbeing. Once that happens your care recipient’s quality of life will also suffer as a result.
Marital Advice for Caregiving Couples
As a caregiving couple, keeping your partnership strong through good times and bad is possible by making these adjustments:
Listen to your spouse
Active listening is important in any marriage. When you are having a conversation with your spouse make sure that you’re not the only one doing the talking. Maintain eye contact, don’t interrupt them and be sure to focus on what they are really saying. Repeat back what you’ve heard to eliminate confusion or misunderstanding.
Don’t hold feelings in
Even though it may seem like there’s never a good time to express your feelings, keeping them bottled up inside will just make things worse. When you can’t find time for a spontaneous discussion, schedule a standing appointment with your spouse so that you can have an open, honest and uninterrupted conversation.
Don’t point fingers
When times get tough there’s a natural tendency to place blame on those closest to you. But playing the “blame game” can be very destructive to a marriage. Always remember that you agreed to care for your aging parent with or without your spouse’s help.
When you first got married you loyally supported one another through thick and thin. Rethink your vows and concentrate on ways to work together as caregiving team, like taking turns getting mom to the doctor. If they’re old enough, involve your kids in the team caregiving effort.