Overcoming Resentment When Caring for a Spouse

A woman looks out the window while embracing her elderly husband as she grapples with the stress of caring for a spouse.

If caring for a spouse is breeding feelings of resentment, it’s time to make a change in your perspective.

You both promised to care for each other through better or worse, in sickness and in health. When these cherished sentiments are first spoken on your wedding day, it is difficult to imagine how it will feel to actually live them out. It might come as a shock to you that frustration, anger, and resentment can go hand-in-hand with fulfilling your vows when caring for a spouse.

How Can I Resent Caring for a Spouse, the Person I Love the Most?

In a nutshell, it’s overwhelming, both emotionally and physically, to care for someone you love. You may feel:

  • Fearful about your spouse’s prognosis
  • Frustrated from too little time for self-care
  • Stretched too thin
  • Angry or irritated for inexplicable reasons
  • Unappreciated and taken for granted

All of these feelings are valid and perfectly normal, even if unexpected – and there are steps you can take to overcome them while strengthening your relationship with your spouse.

How to Overcome Spousal Caregiving Resentment

Set and maintain boundaries. Remind yourself that you are human, and you can’t (and shouldn’t attempt to) do everything. Setting an unattainable bar for yourself as a caregiver will quickly lead to burnout, depression, and a lower quality of care for your spouse. Identify practical expectations that are in line with your abilities and strengths, and bring in help for the others.

Consider couples counseling. A professional marriage counselor can be helpful to both of you individually and as a couple. You’ll gain the tools you’ll need to resolve disputes in a healthy way, to better understand each other’s perspective, to better manage feelings of resentment, and to improve communication. The counselor can also provide you with referrals to other helpful resources as appropriate.

Face your emotions. You might be trying to cover up how you feel to keep the peace, but it is important to find a safe space to vent. Caregiving is hard on many levels, and identifying a strong network of support is vital. Speak regularly with a trusted family member or friend, spiritual guide, or therapist.

Take care of YOU. If you think of self-care as selfish, think again. Taking care of yourself empowers you to take better care of your spouse. Carve out and prioritize time for pastimes you enjoy, socializing with friends and other family members, and stress-relieving activities: reading, exercise, journaling, listening to music, being outdoors.

CareWorks Health Services is here to serve as your partner in care to help you restore a healthy life balance and to rediscover the joy of spending quality time with your spouse. Contact us at (949) 859-4700 to inquire about our respite care services and to request a complimentary in-home consultation to learn more about the many ways we can help. Our services are available in Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, and Laguna Woods in addition to the surrounding areas.