Caregiving for a Spouse: Top Tips for Being a Partner, Not a Parent

If you’re in a successful, long-lasting relationship, you know that it requires commitment, compromise, and sacrifice. The happiest relationships are the ones where both parties selflessly take care of each other. This balance shifts, however, if the person you love encounters a significant health concern. And this shift can have a devastating effect on the dynamics of your relationship if you’re not careful, as you find yourself in the role of care provider.

Obviously, you want to do all you can for your spouse. However, it’s vital that you ensure you’re not sacrificing your romantic connection along the way. Trying to parent your partner can cause bitterness – for you both. To keep up healthy boundaries when caregiving for a spouse, keep the following in mind:

  • Have an open, honest conversation about how the health changes are affecting you. Brainstorm ways to find a new normal that will be fulfilling for both of you, establishing new, attainable dreams and goals together.
  • Be deliberate in creating opportunities to concentrate on your relationship independent of the illness or injury. Continue to be involved in the activities and conversations you enjoyed together before the health issue arose, altering if needed.
  • Enable your spouse to remain as independent as possible. Although you certainly have the best of intentions in wanting to help, it is easy to cross the line into causing harm to the person’s self-esteem. Plan extra time, provide adaptive tools, and step back when you can to allow the person to do whatever they’re able to for themselves.
  • Show your love for your partner in ways which have nothing at all to do with the care you are providing. Write love letters, provide simple, thoughtful gifts, tell the person just how much you admire specific attributes you observe in them.

If all this seems easier in theory, there are a few specific things you can do to ensure you’re maintaining appropriate boundaries in your role as caregiver for your partner:

  • Place some favorite photos or memorabilia from past vacations you’ve taken together in areas where you’ll see them regularly, to remind yourself of the good times you’ve shared together.
  • Hold hands, offer spontaneous hugs, give a back rub or shoulder massage, etc. to stay in close physical contact apart from touch that is a required element of care.
  • Keep an active social network, both as a couple and individually. The activities you engage in with friends and family might need to be modified, but must not be eliminated altogether.
  • Focus on resolving any conflicts in a healthier way, bringing in a professional counselor for help if needed.

An at-home caregiver is a great option to ensure your partner has all the support and help needed, allowing you to focus on spending quality time together as a couple. Contact Seniorcorp, one of the top home health agencies in Virgina Beach and nearby areas at 757-640-0557 for more information on how we can help.