With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, it’s a good time to consider strategies to prevent your partner from getting overlooked because of your caregiving.
Caring for an aging relative definitely affects your ability to nurture your significant other. A poll at caregiving.com revealed that 81% of family caregivers say caregiving tested their marriage in ways they never imagined.
In that light, we draw upon suggestions of family caregivers and the research of noted couples counselor Dr. John Gottman to suggest ways to maintain the health of your marriage as you care for the health of your aging loved one.
- Review family values and goals. Establish a sense of shared purpose. How does eldercare fit with your values? Having a shared vision makes it easier to accept inconveniences.
- Discuss fears, concerns, and expectations. You and your partner may have strong memories and assumptions based on watching your parents care for—or not care for—your grandparents.
- Show interest when your partner shows signs of stress. Demonstrate that his or her emotional and physical needs are also a priority.
- Stay positive. Even when there are problems between you, notice and point out the good things.
- Set aside time for your partner. Whether it’s a walk, a movie, a weekend away, make sure to have fun together. Consider date nights, just the two of you.
- Make it quality time. Pay attention to your partner. Be “present” for your moments together. No talking about your caregiving!
- Avoid discussion of marital problems. Separate your problem-solving time from time together spent nurturing your relationship.
This Valentine’s Day consider starting a tradition of getting together weekly, just the two of you, for some light fun. Help yourselves remember why you became a couple in the first place.