Marriages go through many stresses and strains, but there are few challenges to a marriage greater than a wife or husband becoming a caregiver for a parent. Surveys indicate that 80 percent of married people say caregiving puts a strain on their relationship.

How does a couple keep their marriage strong under these trying circumstances? First, let’s examine the stressors of caregiving.

What are the Stressors?

Caregiving can:

  • Create a financial burden for the caregiving couple
  • Diminish time together
  • Build tension, frustration, exhaustion, and anger
  • Create resentment of the loved one being cared for
  • Adversely affect relationships with other family members

In the heat of a given moment, things tend to be said that cannot be taken back. Before that moment is reached, however, couples can take steps to resolve their issues and strengthen their marriage.

What are Some Strategies?

Coping strategies include:

  • Agreeing there are issues to face, and begin devising strategies to meet them together
  • Expressing concerns and emotions without shouting, ultimatums, and recriminations
  • Exchanging anger for forgiveness and understanding
  • Making decisions together about the path forward
  • Asking for, and accepting help, from other people to ease the burden
  • Making time for each other
  • Keeping romance and spontaneity a part of the relationship
  • Making constant communication a priority
  • Acknowledging your partner’s/spouse contributions, patience, and understanding

Build a Caregiving Network

Some family caregivers believe that only they can provide the care that the parent needs. Others don’t want to impose on anyone else for help. As the loved one’s needs increase, the caregiver becomes overwhelmed in a spiral of providing more and more time and energy to the parent and less time and energy to his or her marriage.

Do not hesitate to look to other family members, neighbors, or faith communities for help. Set up a network of volunteers to grocery shop, take Mom or Dad to a doctor’s appointment, mow the lawn, or just sit with the parent while the family caregiver takes a well-deserved break. Many senior services organizations offer respite care; a scheduled time of hours, days, or weeks that a caregiver can get away, perform tasks he or she has been neglecting, rest, and reconnect with a spouse.

Home Health Care

If the care needed in the home has become too much for the family caregiver, there are many in-home health care agencies that can supplement the care being provided.

Home health care agencies can provide medical care management and therapy services, as well as assistance with activities of daily living for a senior who may have challenges dressing themselves, bathing, moving about the house, and other functions of living in a home.

Care Managers

Care managers have the experience and expertise that can be invaluable to a family caregiver and his or her spouse.

They can make a thorough assessment of the senior’s needs. They can coordinate care and communications with the health care system, including in-home health care. They provide information on benefits the parent may be eligible to receive, facilitate finding resources available to the senior, supply advice on home safety, and provide information on senior care communities.

Making the Marriage Stronger

Like many other challenges in life, working through caregiving while married can actually make the relationship stronger if you have remained committed to each other. As a couple, you will have performed an act of love and concern for another person, worked through the stresses and strains of it all and emerged together with a better appreciation for each other.

We understand the additional stress and responsibilities caregiving can add. Let us help you. Contact a care manager today.