Being a Partner, Not a Parent, Throughout Spousal Caregiving

happy senior couple

Learn tips to ensure that spousal caregiving doesn’t negatively impact a relationship.

If you’re in a successful, lasting relationship, you understand that it calls for compromise, commitment, and sacrifice. The happiest relationships are the ones where both parties selflessly take care of one another. This balance shifts, however, if the person you love experiences a serious health concern. Spousal caregiving can have an adverse impact on the dynamics of your relationship if you are not vigilant, as you find yourself in the role of care provider.

Obviously, you want to do anything you can for your partner. Nonetheless, it is crucial that you ensure you are not sacrificing your romantic connection along the way. Trying to parent your spouse can lead to bitterness – for you both. To promote healthy boundaries, keep the following in mind:

  • Have an open, honest discussion regarding how the health changes are affecting you. Brainstorm techniques to find a new normal that will be fulfilling for both of you, establishing new, attainable goals and dreams together.
  • Show your love for your partner in ways that have nothing to do with the care you’re providing. Write love letters, provide small, thoughtful gifts, and tell the person how much you admire specific traits you notice in them.
  • Empower your partner to stay as independent as possible. Even though you certainly have the best of intentions in attempting to help, it is easy to cross the line into causing damage to the person’s self-esteem. Plan additional time, provide adaptive tools, and step back when you can to allow the person to do whatever they’re able to on their own.
  • Be deliberate in creating opportunities to prioritize your relationship apart from the illness or injury. Continue to be involved in the activities and conversations you enjoyed together before the health issue arose, modifying as necessary.

If all of this seems easier in theory, there are a few specific steps you can take to make sure you’re keeping appropriate boundaries in your spousal caregiving role:

  • Place some favorite photos or memorabilia from prior vacations you’ve taken in places where you’ll see them frequently, to remind yourself of the happy times you’ve had together.
  • Offer hugs, hold hands, give a back rub or shoulder massage, etc. to stay in close physical contact apart from touch that is a necessary element of care.
  • Keep an active social network, both as a couple and individually. Activities you engage in with family and friends may need to be modified, but should not be eliminated altogether.
  • Focus on resolving any conflicts in a healthy way, bringing in a professional counselor for help if required.

An at-home caregiver is a great option to make sure your partner has all the support and help needed, allowing you to focus on spending quality time together as a couple. Email or call CareWorks Health Services at (949) 859-4700 to learn more about our award-winning in-home care in Huntington Beach and nearby areas.