Being married isn’t always easy and having to take care of an older relative can add another layer of complexity to any relationship. If you belong to the sandwich generation, this shouldn’t be the case. The good news is that you can still balance everything without sacrificing either part of your life. You can ensure that you and your spouse stay connected despite the challenges by following these tips.
Be honest about what each person needs from the other.
When caring for an aging parent while married, it’s important that you and your partner are honest with each other. If there are certain aspects of your relationship that aren’t working well or could use improvement because of the situation, then discuss these issues openly so they don’t get worse as time goes by.
For example, maybe you’re not spending enough quality time together because you’ve been too focused on caring for your aging parent. Instead of keeping it all in, it’s best to be honest with your partner and communicate with them. Whatever the issue may be, open communication will allow you to find solutions that benefit everyone involved.
Understand your partner’s needs.
Taking care of an aging parent doesn’t mean you should be discrediting your partner’s needs. You should still remember that your partner has needs in your relationship, and it’s important that you also do your best to fulfill them.
If your partner is the one who’s taking care of their parent, understanding their feelings will allow you to better support them during times of stress. It doesn’t matter who takes care of their parents; understanding how someone else feels helps create a better environment for everyone. When you know what your partner wants out of life, you’ll also know what he/she expects from you. This way, neither of you will constantly have to feel like you’re doing something wrong.
Don’t neglect your duties as a partner and parent.
You might think that since you’ve taken over the role of caregiver, you no longer have any responsibilities at home. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. There are still duties you have to fulfill as a partner and a parent, and you must continue to take responsibility for those obligations.
Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of thinking that just because you’re now responsible for everything related to your parent, you won’t have to work hard anymore. Remember: you’ll always have to put effort into making sure your household runs smoothly.
Learn to set boundaries.
Setting boundaries can be difficult at the beginning, but it’s essential. Boundaries give you control over your own life and prevent others from interfering with yours. This is especially true when it comes to taking care of an aging parent. There may be times when you feel like your parent or partner is overstepping a boundary, and it’s important that you address the issue right away.
Boundary setting starts with recognizing where you draw the line between acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior. This could be the key to having a healthy relationship between your parents and your partner. It’s okay to say “no” sometimes, and it can even save you from situations where you end up feeling frustrated or resentful.
Try utilizing other family members or friends.
Sometimes, there isn’t anyone available to help you with your parents who wish to age in place. If this happens, try using people outside of your immediate circle. Family members aren’t necessarily the only ones who can offer assistance, either. Friends, neighbors, and coworkers can step in if they see that you need some extra hands-on attention.
However, you should still keep in mind that these individuals don’t live under the same circumstances as you do. They probably haven’t had to deal with the challenges of caring for an elderly relative. So make sure you choose wisely before asking them to assist you.
Work with empathy and compassion.
Whatever happens during a tough situation such as caring for an aging parent while married, always work with empathy and compassion. You never want to lose sight of why you’re dealing with certain issues in the first place.
Remember that not all problems require solutions. Sometimes, simply knowing that someone understands your struggles can go a long way toward easing your pain. No matter which side you are in this situation, always offer your partner emotional support so that s/he can cope with his/her emotions.
Take care of yourself as well.
Lastly, remember that you deserve time for yourself as well. When taking care of an aging parent, it may not always feel like you have time or energy left over for yourself. However, it’s important to take breaks whenever possible. This allows you to relax and not be overwhelmed with your responsibilities. Whether it’s going out to the mall, getting massages, or visiting museums — make sure you schedule enough time off so that you don’t burn out.