My partner is caring for both of her parents and isn't focusing on our marriage. It's been going on for 7 years now and I'm feeling alone and frustrated. How do I cope with the stress?

Asked by

Both of her parents are elderly, in poor health and deny needing help. It is clearly unsafe for them to live alone and they routinely call 911 for assistance. My partner and her siblings feel "there's nothing they can do" and rush over when necessary to handle the crisis of the day. I'm tired of feeling alone and frustrated. Our relationship is routinely shelved because "elderly parents who will die soon" trumps needy partner. I'm just at a loss - and this has been going on 7 years now.

Answers 1 to 6 of 6
I'm all for the spouse being the primary focus and not the parent, once a person gets married that is. You never said you were married, so I assume you're not. I am wondering though, if the roles were reversed and it was YOUR parents that you were running to take care of every 10 minutes, what would she say? Only you can answer that I guess. I would ask her though and see what she'd say. If she says that she would stand by you whatever you decided to do about your parents, then you have a decision to make don't you. If on the other hand she said no, then that's a whole other can of worms. Time for a heart to heart with your 'partner'.
I'm sorry I totally missed the whole 'marriage' word. Oh my gosh I'm blind.
Top Answer
ANON:

Instead of staying home sulking and waiting for crumbs, tag along the next time she rushes out to tend to her parents and see for yourself what's eroding your relationship. After all, aren't you supposed to be partners and share just about everything? If she says you don't have to come, insist and tell her you're going to help whether she likes it or not. If she still tries to talk you out of it, tell her it's time for truth between the two of you and that you'll be -- as always -- waiting at home for that heart-to-heart Naheaton suggested. Both of you, sooner or later, will have to reach a realistic and practical compromise that benefits both. Otherwise I don't see any reason why anyone should have to sit around in a time warp, watch the years go by, and then have nothing to show for them.

-- ED
I would bet she would have more time and energy for you if you were also caregiving. Also, maybe regular visits/check ups on them by everyone who can be convinced to get involved in a planned rotation could reduce the emergency calls. A family meeting would be a thought if everyone gets along well enough, to do that and cooperate...if so, "many hands make light work" and you might be able to have soem "protected time" for just the two of you when another famiy member is "covering."
My husband said he didn't have the opportunity to care for his parents and actually wanted to help me care for my folks. My dad needed our help for about two years until he passed. Mom has dementia and still needs our daily assistance. With both of us, and two others taking turns, we're able to keep her in her own home, so far. My parents did so much for me, and eventho' sometimes it gets to be a lot, with God's grace and others helping, we're able to share the load...and labor of love.

Maybe a family meeting to work out problems and, like the above response, scheduling some additional (outside) help will give your partner, and you, a break. I'm sure your willing participation (and praying a lot) might help you overcome some resentment. ♥
I will tell you what got through to me. (This could work very well with Valentine's Day coming up.) On a non-crazy day he took me out to dinner. Told me that he missed me. Told me that he wanted to be a priority in my life again and that he hated seeing me being running ragged. So we started with one day off. My mom had to call one of my other siblings, or had to pay for help on Fridays. I got Fridays off. Both my husband and I could count on this every single week. You see, her parents are getting their way. They are in control. They don't want to move to assisted living or get help so the kids complain, BUT they also rush in and help as needed. A family meeting is in order to make this stop. Also point out to your wife that you could go at any moment. None of us knows how long we have. Anything could happen.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support