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.

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You have good points.

I know of some who have bailed out emotionally in becoming a caregiver to their parent whom they are enmeshed with. They have forgotten their vow to abandon all other and cleave to each other having left mom and dad like the Bible speaks of, but instead act like the Bible says that in taking care of our aging parents and honoring them, we are to abandon our spouse and cleave to our parents until death do we part. Some have bailed both emotionally and physically. Those marriage are over. Others are fighting for their marriage and hope their spouse stops being more emotionally married to mom than to them, but it is a severe strain to fight that fight which not everyone wins. In these cases it is too easy to blame the victim when there was nothing they could do beyond what they tried which sometimes has even involved going to marriage therapy. I think some of these people loose a marriage that they really never had for the commitment to each other and the true intimacy was not there which would have been the glue which would have kept them from having poor boundaries with their parents in caregiving. As someone said earlier, sometimes the stress of caregiving shows unresolved issues that have been there all along. In those cases the parent is valued more than the spouse. Some I have read here have deep remorse over this, but I have read only one that did not.
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Marriage is a fragile thing these days.We expect to live out this eternity full of vitality and without the signature of aging etching it's way through our bodies.
We are led to believe pills, exercise and diet will cure anything but once the burden of an aging parent falls into our laps we realize the instruction manual is missing and truth is painful.
Today we are unaccustomed to watching old age take it's toll. We warehouse our elderly telling ourselves it's better for them and we are entitled to our lives.
Marriage being fragile is about one partner (out of love,duty or necessity) taking on the burden of those last years for a parent(s). Both are forced to face their own mortality after being assured this can't possible happen, shouldn't happen and must be the problem of state, government or some other agency! Surely family should not be forced to carry this burden.
Rude awakening.Time is no longer their own, help ( if found ) is often less than expected and a nest egg ( if there is one) is inadequate to meet home care or skilled nursing facilities.
One partner feels cheated, the other guilty.
How do marriages/partnerships survive this? Often they don't.
My opinion is that too many of us do not take seriously the vows of marriage and the " for richer poorer, till the death do us part" is not taken literally when it should be.
If your partner or spouse bails on you physically or emotionally when you become the caregiver for a parent He or she will do it to you when you get old so you've lost nothing.
But..it's easier to blame our parents for living too long and ruining our lives.
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This is a great topic cmag!!
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Ff, you could get a realtor's box or a push button key code lock, we got the second type after mom had an emergency situation, that way you can give the code to 911 when you call.
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Yes, we could call 911 from the restaurant or the movie theater, but Mom wouldn't hear the EMT's ring the doorbell and knocking at the door.... [sigh].

As for work, my sig other is home all morning due to his work schedule, and that is when the falls tend to take place as Dad is more active that time of day. Otherwise, I am only 3 minutes away from my parent's house. I am an independent contractor so I can come and go as I please.

cmagnum, I agree about the age of the people involved and the emotional buttons. I am an only child of helicopter parents, but they let me be independent. My parents didn't need any help until they were 91 and 87, and I was in my 60's. So we all were already set in our ways.

My problem was spoiling my parents when they first needed my attention as I didn't know any different, and now cutting back is very difficult. Like un-spoiling a child.
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That is a very valid point. I wonder how some even got married in the first place? It does appear that If there is an issue from one's family origin (their childhood) that has not been resolved, the stress of caregiving or a parent or grandparent will bring it to the surface.

I also think that the older the person is when these issue arise, the less likely they are ever going to change or get the emotional freedom that they need without a lot of drive and work on the person's part as they go through a lot of therapy to get out. I can understand the spouses who get tired of waiting for their spouse to deal with these things and end up divorcing.

Those who have had the right emotional buttons placed in them as children they will often go into auto-pilot as adults when a parent throws the emotional blackmail at them via FOG, Fear, Obligation and Guilt.

It is almost like a time bomb waiting to go off in their heads and it sometimes takes the spouse by surprise if they are not aware of how controlling that spouse's parents were long ago when they were dating or the spouse to be claimed that they were free of that control, but deep down inside they really weren't.

I got hit with that one, but it was not caregiving of my MIL that triggered her mom trying to take her over like a child once again, it started when our first child was born. Man did I get blindsided! By the grace of God and much therapy for both of us we have moved forward past all that hell we lived in for a while. I lived with the feeling like a single parent for a while when my wife's emotional buttons were being pushed by her mother and after all of her hard work and intensive individual and group therapy, plus meds brought her where she has been the last several years, I told her during that time it was like being married to two people and given her strong enmeshment with her identical twin sister, it sometimes felt like being married to three people. She was sorry, but for some reason cannot remember hardly anything like the boys and I do from those hellish years. I will be glad when her mother dies and I hope her twin sister who is a cancer survivor outlives her mother because she deserves a life without her mom whom she is the one who has to deal with her now in assisted living because she and her husband live in the same town. We are a 3 1/2 hour drive away which her therapist told her was a safe geographic distance to keep from her mom to stay as well as she is now.

We still have strong boundaries with her mother for she has a personality disorder and has never sought help and want because she doesn't see that she needs any nor needs any friends for she feels like she can buy them with all of her money. In the past, she has used her money and the will as part of her control game. The daughters are free of that game now and let it roll off their backs when she says this again.

Sorry, I did not mean to do so much personal venting, but for some reason this issue is almost raw for me today.

Sometimes dads put these emotional control buttons in their sons or daughters, but I have not seen as many like that as the ones which involve the mother of the spouse. In Townsend's book on boundaries, he does have a story about a wife who was emotionally enmeshed with her dad which she had to get free of in order to have a better marriage.

Yes, it would be interesting to know the divorce rate among caregivers of parents and grandparents. While it is hard to generalize, some stories seem to repeat themselves although the names of the individuals change.
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Marriage as a collateral damage while one of the spouses is the caregiver for a parent?

Oh, I definitely think it is sometimes. But then I wonder if the caregiving situation just puts the spotlight on problems that already exist in the relationship. Sometimes when I read posts where the marriage is at risk I think the marriage should not have happened in the first place. Sometimes I wonder how (and why) the marriage lasted as long as it did and sincerely hope the poster has the courage to end it.

Each situation is unique. It is hard to generalize. Depending on what stats you believe, something like 25 to 50% of first-time marriages in the US ends in divorce. Is the rate among marriages with parental caregiving involved higher than that? It would be interesting to know.

Any huge stress seems to involve higher divorce rates. Parents of children with disabilities have a higher divorce rate (or at least some statistics point in that direction.)
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babalou - we cross posted Yes to all you wrote.
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ff - If you get a call that your dad has fallen, you can call 911 for them, Don't ask your mum to call.

There is something I just don't understand.

It seems that you have resigned yourself to a life of waiting for dad to fall, or whatever and have put some aspects of your life on hold. I guess I don't understand that you can go to work and not worry about your dad while there, but you can't go out to dinner and a movie because of worrying about him then. Why don't you worry about your dad when you are at work? Work is a much longer period of time than dinner and a movie. To follow the same thinking you would not be able to work either. I know work gives you are excuse to be less available for them to call on you, You are every bit as entitled to some relax and enjoy time when you are not available to them.

Think about this. It is your fear that is keeping you away from things that you and sig other enjoy - not your parents. What you have to say "No" to is the fear. The fear is also contributing to your illness. I read a great book by Gabor Mate called "When the body says no" in which he talks a lot about cancer and relationship with parents and unresolved issues. It is a good read.

Your dad is still responsible for his choices. If he won't wear a medic alert then he takes his changes of lying in the dirt. All you or anyone can do is advise him of the dangers, give him options, and then respect his choices, and let him experience the consequences. We can only do so much for someone else who is competent.

Take care of you The stress can kill you as you well know. No one can look after you but you.
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In addition, if your parents are ignoring what their doctors tell them, they may need what is called "natural consequences". He falls, he lays there. He's been warned.

Now, if he has dementia, and you have poa, then you need to talk to his doc about placement. If the doctor finds that he's not competent to care for himself, the doctor can advise you to push the issue.
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