Caregiving can put as much strain on your marriage as raising young children. It takes the same type of focus on your marriage that you used when your children were young to keep your relationship strong now. The time and emotional energy that elder care requires can leave you with less energy to share with your partner. Here are some guidelines designed to keep your marriage strong while you are caring for parents.
A lot of unspoken expectations can exist around caring for parents. Caregiving can come on quite suddenly and the needs of your parent can place a heavy burden on your already busy life. You need to spend time with your spouse discussing exactly how you would like to help your parent. What may be the possible impacts on your day-to-day life? What sacrifices might you be asking your spouse and your immediate family to make to help you care for your parent? It's important to keep to your communications positive. Anticipate caregiving challenges and plan ahead when possible. Be sure to express your gratitude often.
Keep those date nights going or start them up again. Caring for parents can use up a lot of your available time. Most caregivers find it challenging to make time to take care of themselves and nurture close relationships. Your most vital relationship must not be neglected. Schedule some time each week to focus on each other and your relationship. And remember Rule #2A...don't spend your "date" talking about caregiving issues.
With a Little Help from My Friend
It's likely that your spouse will be your most important sounding board and support when you are caring for parents. Be sure that both of you seek emotional support for parent care outside your marriage. Joining separate elder care support groups or having good friends that you can confide in individually is important. Each of you needs a safe place to share your thoughts and feelings about your caregiving experiences that might be difficult to share with your spouse.
United We Stand
As a couple, get clear about your goals for caring for parents. Setting boundaries and limits to how you will help your parent are important ways to stay balanced. You and your spouse need to be a team when it comes to elder care challenges. Your spouse can provide that extra level of support when your parent wants you to exceed your limits or when you are emotionally drawn toward breaking your own parent care rules.
Supporting Each Other
The key to staying healthy while caring for parents is finding ways to take care of yourself. You and your spouse can remind each other to schedule regular breaks from caregiving. You can support exercising and eating right to keep your health and elder care efforts on track.
The satisfaction of successfully overcoming eldercare challenges can be another opportunity for you and your spouse to bond. Working as team while caring for parents can strengthen your marriage as long as you focus on staying connected as a couple.
Has caring for parents been tough on your marriage? What did you do to succeed and stay connected?
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