Balancing Marriage and Caregiving

Author: Spencer Smith

Acting as a caregiver for an elderly relative or friend can offer important support to someone when they need it most. It can be rewarding and emotionally fulfilling, but it can also be deeply challenging and highly pressured.

​​It’s inevitable that this stress can take a toll on a caregiver’s relationship with their partners. If you are a caregiver, remember that acknowledging the impact that it has on you and your spouse is the first step in ensuring your marriage remains strong and solid, even when times are tough.

Is caregiving impacting your marriage?

In the role of caregiver, you will often find yourself balancing many different tasks – from managing time and money to overseeing health and nutrition. These can be difficult and stressful. In some cases you may find that your patience and anxiety is heightened as you experience a form of burnout. This basically means you are so stressed your wellbeing is affected. Common signs include mood swings, physical health issues like fatigue, headaches and even a compromised immune system. 

If both spouses are involved in providing care, they can often end up neglecting themselves and their relationship with each other. If one spouse is the primary caregiver, they may feel unsupported by their partner, which can lead to resentment and arguments. Likewise, the partner may feel ignored and insignificant if all the discussions and time is spent considering the elderly relative.

As caregiver stress increases, weaknesses in a marriage may emerge. A couple may feel they are arguing more, emotionally distant, physically disconnected, and struggling to cope with everyday decisions. It’s best to act on these warning signs early on before they become serious issues.

It’s worth considering that, as well as community and family support, there are also options such as professional carers and independent living facilities. Even if now doesn’t feel like the right time, consider doing some research into these options so you are well informed if anything changes in the future.

Ask for support 

It’s important to have open and honest discussions with your spouse about the support you need, and be realistic about what they can provide. Could they help with finances or paperwork? Can they assist with logistical things, such as running errands or picking up prescriptions? Even if they can’t help, it’s important they understand the pressure you are under so they can be mindful of how your role as caregiver impacts you and your marriage.

Remember support can come in many different forms. Upside+ is a type of independent living that provides round-the-clock care 7 days a week. It means your loved one can still live an independent life, but they have as much support as they need. This can really help take the pressure off you and your spouse.

Keep the spark alive

When life is busy and stressful it can be hard to make time together with just the two of you. It is important to spend time enjoying each other’s company and not always feeling weighed down by the stresses of everyday life. Carve out time for dates, meals together, long walks or even just a bit of extra time snuggling in bed in the morning. If your role as a caregiver makes this very difficult, consider seeking respite by hiring a professional to help with anything from medication administration to hygiene routines. Just a few hours might help you feel more rested and energized. 

While a few hours away from the stresses of caregiving might be great in the short term, if you are looking at more long term options, remember that there are plenty of different independent living solutions for your loved one. From beach-side independent living apartments to 7 days a week care provisions, there are plenty of housing options to consider.

Become a team

One of the most fundamental aspects of marriage is that the two of you become a team, taking on the other person’s problems and helping them through the good and bad times. The idea of teamwork holds true more than ever when you are looking after an elderly relative or friend.

Ask your partner and the rest of the family to help with everyday chores. Everyone should contribute around the house to keep it running smoothly. Making a family work is difficult even in the best circumstances, and it becomes more challenging when caregiving is thrown into the mix. 

Stay positive and healthy

In terms of your own wellbeing, consider ways you can incorporate exercise into your daily life, or perhaps you could make small changes, such as going to bed a little earlier? And don’t forget to keep up to date with doctor’s appointments. Taking charge of your health will ensure you feel strong and in the best place to withstand all the challenges that life and caregiving may throw your way.

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