The collateral damage of marriages In caregiving! Would someone explain this to me?

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And suggest how it can be prevented?
Why are broken or totally destroyed marriages a common example of the collateral damage for so many caregivers? Can anything be done to prevent this or at least reduce the numbers?

It is heartbreaking to read examples of this here.

24 Comments

cmag, something that discourages me is when I read that someone quits their job and leaves their home to take care of a parent. I always think that I wish they had come on the group BEFORE they did that. After it is done, it often leaves a mess that is difficult to sort back out.

Some people elevate the need of the aging parent so high that they neglect themselves and the rest of their family. I am surprised that any marriage can survive this. IMO, the spouse and family are the most important things. There are so many options to care for parents that quitting jobs and neglecting family is not necessary.

Everyone's families are different. Some families can coexist peacefully, with mutual love and respect. I see this often for families from Mexico -- something I admire greatly. Other families are torn apart when the parents come to stay. If a family is being broken, I wish people would make other arrangements for their parents before the damage becomes irreversible.

I know we often read to take care of ourselves, and it seems like so many words. It really is important to take care of ourselves. We do not want to end up impoverished and with a broken family in order to take care of parents. There are too many other options to care for them. Many of us know what it is like to have parents who won't budge from their houses and won't let help come in. It is a difficult situation, but one that the parents need to work through. Having a child risk their life and future so that the parents won't have to move to a retirement community should not even be on the table.
I know we are about to have financial struggles I'm on leave at 55% wage it stresses my husband. With that and dad so close to the end he's so hard. He is the one who runs the house makes the choices always together not now and that upsets me. He snaps and can't make any choices but found if I give him a task rather then a choice he can do that. I have to change my wording and ignore his rants. He's so different I try hard just to understand and make excuses for quick outings when I'm upset it's working for us. Caring for dad in the house was never his plan he can't bare this. Only way we will make it threw is understanding many people can't do that when your so tired hurting premourning and scared.
A lot depends on the personality of both partners. Since the majority of cases it is the wife/girlfriend who are the Caregivers to her own parent(s).... some guys will jump in to help out without any complaints, and there are some who stand in the background with their hands in their pockets whining that no one is paying attention to them. I believe a lot has to do with how they were raised. A mother who spoils her son will raise an *everything is about me* child.

I am really surprised my sig other hadn't moved out after 6 years of dealing with my parents, who still live alone in their own home, but needed transportation, like almost daily. Since my folks won't move to a retirement community, I feel I need to be *on-call* 365 days a year. Thus, no vacations. My sig other would fly out to visit his family. Also no movies or dining out, who can relax knowing that a call might come through that Dad fell, yet again... [sigh]. I am so emotionally drained, plus I had developed 3 serious illnesses in the past 6 years, all stem from stress.

Yes, lot of it is my fault for not setting boundaries at the very beginning.... oh how I wished I would have know of this website back then. I would have done things so differently. I've had no training on what to do or what not to do... it's all been trial and error. Mainly error on my part. My sig other looks like a lost puppy, thank goodness he still has his career... and thank goodness I never gave up my career. I hope at the end of this journey that my sig other and I can reconnect.
Some of the stories that I've read here have included the following.

1. Husbands come and go, but you only have one mom. (I have not seen that one in a long time.

2. My mother controlled me and thus she destroyed my marriage.

3. I left my very job and my husband who needed care to care for my rich mother and feel no regret or guilt for my decisions.

4. I have read stories where the wife felt like she was in second place compared to his mother who was living with them. There is one book written about that, When He is Married to Mom.

5. There are stories where the girlfriend or the about to be married wife feels like her boyfriend or future husband is putting his mother ahead of them.

There seems to be a total breakdown for some when it comes to marriage vows where you say forsaking all others, etc. till death do you part. It somehow gets reversed into when your parent(s) become elderly you forsake your spouse and cleave to your parent(s) till death do you part.

I have heard the used of scripture about honoring your mother and father plus some verses in the NT that talks about caring for elderly parents for why people have left their spouses. Some elderly parents will use that on their adult chilldren to guilt them into feeling obligated to leave everything and everyone and care totally for them. But that is not what the Bible means at all about that.

Another thing that I see missing is the whole idea of leaving mom and dad and cleaving to your spouse and becoming one as the Bible does speak of. What I've observed is some husbands and yes even some wives have not grown up emotionally in that one are of their live. Those who do grow up in this one area of their life usually find their marriage is saved unless it is just too late.

Those are my observations and I am sure there are more, but how do we help people solve these problems and prevent these problems from taking place so that these marriages don't become examples of collateral damage either by divorce or by just existing as a couple, but no longer really close? I don't think God nor healthy parents would want their adult child to sacrifice their marriage for their elderly parent or grandparent.
freqfler, I am sorry that you had such painful lessons and do hope you and your significant other do reconnect at some point. I think that part of the problem is not being taught about boundaries early in life; another part is the environment that they grew up in which may not have supported healthy boundaries; and another part may be watching their own parents and not seeing what is healthy and yes, no one is perfect, but some parents really set a poor example for their children and some parents view their children as future servants and that is why they had them.
Summermyst, is it time to bring in hospice at this time for your dad since you mention that he is so close to the end? Maybe you and your husband could see a family counselor together and they might be able to help you two in your journey with caring for your dad at home right now.
I think that there is an awful lot of lack of planning on everyone's part in a lot of these situations that we're reading about. In retrospect, my parents taught me several things:
1. Expect the best, but plan for disaster
2. Your parents' money is their money. Expect nothing to be left.
3. Your marriage and your children ALWAYS come first.

I watched other relatives bend themselves out of shape, waiting for an inheritance that didn't exist. I was told by an older friend that she regretted having spent so much time caring for her elderly mom that she sacrificed developing a relationship with her grandchildren.

I think a lot of this is about planfulness, and sitting down with your SO to figure out what you can and cannot do. Lots of folks demand my attention; whether I give it to them or not is entirely my choice.
We are allowing dad to stay home we have connected with palitive nursing in home and personal cell number for the doctor. My husband and I will be fine so long as I don't react Loosing his dad is horrible he's allowed to be moody. I try and see his lashing out at me as a complement that he trusts me enough to understand
As long as you have a supportive person who is there to listen and not judge. Give you advice that you can or cannot use. A solid foundation to fall back on. What you need to do you will do for whomever you have to care for. But if that significant other person is not able to live their life and have their outlet, you caring for someone can suffocate a relationship. I know when I have reached my limit and have to take a day off. It helps too care for yourself to keep reality in check. Other wise no one is happy. Makes for a difficult situation to be even more difficult.
cmagnum, one main issue with my parents is that they never needed to be Caregivers for their own parents, thus they never experienced what I am going through. My parents got to enjoy 25 years of a fun filled very happy retirement traveling, etc. My sig other and I will never get to do what my parents did, that ship has sailed :(

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