Exhausted and emotionally drained, many caregivers find that they have little time for romance and, as a result, their marriages often suffer. While juggling so many metaphorical balls at once may never be easy, there are steps that you can can take to keep your marriage strong.
Problems in caregiving marriages often develop due to a lack of communication. The caregiver’s spouse may begin to feel ignored and feelings of resentment over the amount of time spent caring for the other mate’s parents may start to fester. Alternatively, the caregiver may start to feel overburdened and as if he or she is doing all of the work. Talking regularly and freely about such problems can not only prevent feelings of bitterness from growing until they are out of control, but can also bring you closer as a couple as you find solutions to problems together.
Additionally, caregivers often need time for healthy venting. Talking to your mate can help him or her to understand what you are going through and may provide greater insight into how to help you through the situation.
While finding time to communicate alone with your spouse can be challenging, as you navigate through days filled with kids, work and caregiving, try to set aside at least a few minutes each day to talk to your mate. Open communication can help turn your relationship into a source of mutual support, rather than a source of additional potential stress.
You may be married, but your dating days don’t have to be over! Don’t let the mundane tasks of life cause you to forget about romance. If the elderly parent or other relative you are caring for is still capable of watching the kids, find out if he or she is willing to babysit one night per week. If not, talking to siblings and other family members to find out if they might be able pitch in. Finally, if neither of those situations is possible, look into occasional respite care for your loved one.
Look for small opportunities to romance one another on a daily basis as well. Try taking walks, eating breakfast with one another or bringing each other flowers. If you are a busy parent and caregiver, the time for such moments is not likely to arise by chance, so plan your time together. Buying time out of your schedule may be difficult, but it’s worth it!
Don’t try to do it all yourself. Caregivers are often pulled in too many directions and feel obligated to respond to everyone’s needs without seeking help. However, stretching yourself too thin can have detrimental effects on both you and your relationship with your spouse. Talk to siblings and other family members about the situation and find out what practical aid they can offer. If many of your family members live far away, find out if they can offer financial support. Perhaps they can provide funding for respite care so that you can have additional time alone with your spouse. If your family members live nearby, talk to them about possibly assuming some caregiver duties. You may find it helpful too, to talk to the Fairfax Agency on Aging, to find out what options are available.
In the end, successful caregiving is all about balance. Looking after your elderly relative is important, but so is your marriage. Make sure that you regularly reevaluate the time you are devoting to each, and talk to your spouse about ways to keep your marriage happy. With work, you too can keep the romance in your marriage.
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