Caregiving for Your Spouse: How to Be a Partner, Not a Parent

Discover how to maintain healthy boundaries when caregiving for your spouse.

If you are in a successful, long-lasting relationship, you realize that it requires compromise, commitment, and sacrifice. The happiest relationships are those where both parties selflessly care for each other. This balance shifts, however, if the individual you love encounters a serious health concern. And this shift can have an adverse impact on the dynamics of your relationship if you are not vigilant, as you find yourself caregiving for your spouse.

Naturally, you want to do whatever you can for your spouse. Nonetheless, it’s crucial that you ensure you’re not sacrificing your romantic connection in the process. Trying to parent your companion can cause bitterness – for both of you. To keep healthy boundaries in place, keep the following in mind:

  • Be intentional in creating opportunities to concentrate on your relationship apart from the illness or injury. Continue to participate in the activities and conversations you enjoyed together before the health issue arose, modifying when necessary.
  • Have an open, honest conversation regarding how the health changes are affecting you. Brainstorm how to find a new normal that will be fulfilling for both of you, establishing new, attainable dreams and goals together. 
  • Empower your partner to stay as independent as possible. Even though you certainly have the best of intentions in wanting to help, it’s very easy to cross the line into causing harm to the person’s self-esteem. Allow additional time, provide adaptive tools, and step back whenever you can to allow the person to do whatever they can on their own.
  • Express your love for your partner in ways that have nothing to do with the care you are providing. Write love letters, provide simple, thoughtful gifts, tell the person just how much you appreciate specific traits you observe in them.

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

  • Place some favorite photos or memorabilia from previous vacations you’ve taken together in areas where you’ll see them regularly, to remind yourself of the good times you’ve shared.
  • 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 necessary element of care.
  • Keep an active social network, both as a couple and individually. Activities you take part in with family and friends may need to be modified, but should 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 perfect way to make sure your partner has all of the help and support needed, allowing you to concentrate on spending quality time together as a couple. Contact Serenity Home Care, the top provider of senior services in Victoria, BC and the surrounding areas, at 250.590.8098 for more information on how we can help.