The stress of caregiving can quickly become an issue within a marriage because it can affect your daily activities, time, finances, and living space. Caring for an aging parent can be stressful beyond belief, by manifesting itself into a chronic stress experience for some. The presence of physical and psychological strain for extended periods of time, along with the cloud of unpredictability and uncontrollability can quickly cross over into the caregiver’s other facets of life such as work and family connections. It would be almost impossible for most individuals to undergo this type of pressure and have it NOT take a toll on their relationships with their significant others.
So what is a caregiver to do?
Understanding the Impact of This Role
To begin the process of understanding how this role of being a caregiver impacts not just you but also your partner, you must examine each area of your life that caregiving touches. Taking care of another oftentimes poses a financial burden, cuts into quality time with your partner or time to tend to other family matters, can cause frustration/fatigue/resentment with your spouse and others, and can also lead to more issues that cause disagreements.
How to Strengthen Your Relationship When Caregiving
By now, most people have been tuned into the concept that communication is the key to any successful relationship. In this instance, there is no greater area to strengthen and exercise than communication. Make communication a priority and keep open channels between yourself and your partner. Expressing thoughts if you or your partner is the caregiver of the concerns, or the emotions being felt and how to manage any upcoming challenges can help the other understand and not feel left out in the cold. Making decisions together, no matter how big or small they are, about the care of your aging family member can also help your partner understand what is happening.
Even though your schedule may be full of other responsibilities and to-do’s, don’t put quality time with your spouse on the back burner – it’s equally as important as the other items on your agenda and deserves equal attention. It is possible to get quality time with your family or spouse by doing activities related to caregiving. For example, if you must take your aging parent to an appointment ask your spouse and family to tag along. It may not be as romantic as a stroll on the beach at sunset, but this joint time together can not only provide more opportunities to bond but also have other members understand better what you or the aging parent may be experiencing in their lives.
No matter what your relationship status is, it is always recommended to seek help when needed. This advice is recommended especially if you are experiencing a disconnect with your partner. Even in the best of circumstances without the additional stress of caregiving, addressing and solving marital problems can be a considerable undertaking. Asking other family members to do smaller tasks like running errands or sitting with the elderly family member while you and your partner go to dinner can make a world of difference. If larger issues are weighing on you such as developing an Aging Plan or mediating family relationships, Care Right offers these services as well as overall caregiver advocacy and support services.
Understanding the effect that the caregiver role has on you and your partner is the first step in making sure your relationship stays a priority. Bear in mind that any disruption to the typical family schedule can be difficult for all to adjust to and that it will take time for everyone to acclimate to this new way of life. Extend to yourself and others empathy and patience while working through this oftentimes difficult situation together. Keep yourself and your significant other a priority while caregiving and maintain routines and self-care as much as possible. If you need help communicating and keeping these priorities straight, Care Right can help advocate for you and your family during this time and can help bring balance back to your life.