Caring for your aging parent can cause a lot of stress, particularly where marriages are concerned. Caregiver burnout is a real and widely-recognized emotional state; the strains associated with it — like financial burdens and scheduling issues — can take just as much of a toll on your relationships as it can on yourself.
Thankfully, there are a few strategies you can employ to help support your marriage while under the pressure of being a primary caregiver.
Be Open and Honest
You should be able to discuss any and every topic under the sun with your partner, and that includes the toll that being a caregiver has on your relationship.
Your spouse might have concerns about the amount of time caregiving is taking away from your relationship or the financial stresses that caregiving is putting on your family. No matter the case, be open and don’t play the blame game. Working together, you can help them understand the responsibility that you’ve accepted and how it will affect both your energy and availability.
Allow People to Help
Your responsibilities as a caregiver might be immense, but they aren’t something you have to shoulder alone. In addition to accepting a helping hand from your spouse (you are a team, after all) you should call on your support network — friends, family, and neighbors — to help you with your caregiving tasks.
Their assistance might help you free up more time for you to spend with your partner, as would seeking out professional help in the form of respite care. This service is designed to provide primary caregivers with temporary relief from their duties so that they can relax, recharge, and then resume with renewed vigor.
It might be easy for you and your partner to talk past one another during tense conversations, but it’s much more productive for you to take a breath and listen to one another. When you hear and acknowledge the concerns that your spouse has, you’ll have a much better chance of relating to them and working with them to create solutions to whatever problems might be hurting your relationship.
Avoid interrupting, and be sure you completely understand their points before providing any responses. To help avoid confusion and misunderstandings, you might try getting in the habit of repeating their position(s) to ensure you’re on the same page.
Keep up the Romance
Caring for your parent is important, but maintaining your relationship should also be a top priority. If you fail to dedicate time to romance, you run the risk of losing it altogether. Make time for dates, keep doing those “simple things” that will put a smile on their face, and try not to get swept away in a never-ending loop of caregiver urgency that could sap the life from your marriage.
Prioritize Your Health
If you aren’t physically and mentally well, both your ability to care for your parent and your relationship might suffer because of it. You can hardly provide any meaningful measure of caregiving if you fall ill (which could shift the burden to your spouse), and if you feel weak or run down, you won’t be able to interact with your partner as you normally would.
Stepping into the role of primary caregiver for a loved one can be a big adjustment and put considerable strain on you and your family, so you’ll have to be patient and communicative to help work through the stress it might put on your relationships.
If you’d like to learn more about whether or not it might be the right time for your parent to move to an assisted living community, you can learn more by contacting us at The Cottages today.