How to Be a Partner and Not a Parent as a Spousal Caregiver

How to Be a Partner and Not a Parent as a Spousal Caregiver
A husband who is a spousal caregiver hugs his wife as they smile.

We have tips to help you maintain your relationship while being a spousal caregiver.

Healthy, long-term relationships take commitment, sacrifice, and compromise. The happiest relationships are those where both parties selflessly take care of each other. This balance shifts, however, if the person you love experiences a significant health concern. And this shift can have a devastating effect on the dynamics of your relationship if you’re not vigilant, as you find yourself in the role of a spousal caregiver.

It’s natural to want to help your spouse in whatever way you can as their health needs change. However, it’s vital that you ensure you are not sacrificing your romantic connection in the process. Attempting to parent your partner can result in resentment – for both of you. To promote healthy boundaries, keep the following in mind:

• Find ways to show love for your partner that are independent from the care you offer. Write love letters, provide small, thoughtful gifts, tell the person just how much you appreciate specific qualities you notice in them.

• Make intentional space to pour into your relationship in ways that have nothing to do with providing care. Continue to participate in the activities and conversations you enjoyed together before the health issue arose, altering as required.

• Support your partner in being as independent as possible. While 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 more time, incorporate adaptive tools, and step back whenever you can to allow the person to do whatever they are able to for themselves.

• Be open about how your role as a spousal caregiver is impacting you. Brainstorm techniques to find a new normal that will be fulfilling for both of you, setting new, attainable goals and dreams together.

This may all seem easier said than done, but there are specific steps you can take to make sure you’re keeping appropriate boundaries in your role as caregiver for a partner:

• Hold hands, offer spontaneous hugs, give a back rub or shoulder massage, etc. to stay in close physical contact outside of touch that is an essential component of care.

• Stay social outside of the home together and individually. Activities you engage in with friends and family may need to be modified, but should never be eliminated altogether.

• Place some favorite photos or memorabilia from past vacations you’ve taken together in locations where you’ll see them regularly, to remind yourself of the happy times you’ve shared together.

• Prioritize resolving any issues in a healthy way. Maybe even consider the help of a counselor.

An at-home caregiver is a perfect way to make sure your partner has all the assistance needed, enabling you to focus on spending quality time together as a couple. Contact us online or at (866) 940-4343 for more information regarding how we can help provide services in your area.

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