Caregiving and your partner

Emotional stress, physical fatigue, reduced leisure time, financial draws, and loss of privacy are just a few of the domestic pressures noted in a survey. But some couples in the survey also reported feeling a benefit: Caregiving prompted a new kind of teamwork that actually strengthened their relationship.

Here are some tips:

Strive for balance. You may feel a debt of gratitude to a parent, but recognize also that your marriage is your future. Arrange your caregiving so your partner doesn’t feel like he or she is always the last priority. Regularly discuss your shared values and how they fit into your life as a couple.

What makes your partner feel loved? You probably know intuitively: Quality time together? Physical affection? A love note? A small gift? Handling a chore or errand? (HINT: What does he or she tend to do for you? That’s usually a clue.) Build trust and dedication with weekly gestures of love.

Time together is essential. In most families, one adult child takes on the main caregiver role. If that’s you, make it clear to your siblings that you won’t sacrifice your marriage. Create time for your relationship by asking your siblings for

  • respite (spending some of their vacation time taking care of mom);
  • help with chores (handling the checkbook, keeping the car in good condition);
  • financial assistance, so you can hire help.

Have a Plan B

Watch for signs of distress. If your partner is arguing, drinking more, overeating, or coming home later, a change is in order. Consider

  • hiring in-home care;
  • having your relative live in an assisted living facility;
  • moving your relative to live with a different family member.

A care manager can help you look at options and/or talk with family members about a change in the sharing of the care.