I am really curious to hear from everyone on this forum what the most challenging part of caregiving has been for you when it comes to your relationship with your spouse or significant other. Has your relationship changed a lot -- is it overall stronger or are you barely holding things together? What do you yearn to get back in your relationship?

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My caregiving situation isn’t as intense as some here, I’ll say my husband has been wonderful to my parents, now just my dad. As for how it’s affected our relationship, the thing I hate about it is that though he’s great about listening, he’s always who I vent to about the latest frustrating thing that’s happened (and it’s something daily between my dad and dysfunctional family members) I hate that he has to hear it all, that we spend time discussing, that the blah, blah, blah of it invades pleasant family time. Anyone understand that!?!
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For the 3 short months that Mom (stage 6 Alzheimer's) lived with us, I would say that the anxiety that she caused was the worst problem for us.

Always having to watch her every minute so she didn't fall, didn't get into anything she shouldn't, staying up all night, etc.,
It was all too much.

She refused hubby's assistance (to the point of hitting him if he tried to help her), so that left everything to me.

We started snapping at each other. There was NO "free" time and her constant confusion with the same 2 questions asked 50+ times a day made us crazy.

She wouldn't sleep so we hired a night caregiver. We have a small house so I could still hear the commotion of trying to calm her or getting up to the bathroom with the walker. I couldn't sleep well and I needed to go to work. That made me more "snappy".

It wasn't worth loosing our marriage.
Mother is now in a Memory Care facility where she seems happier. God knows we are.
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For us, it's been a challenge to find time alone together, and not having any privacy. Mom has anxiety and paranoia which makes her very clingy, so she is usually up from the time I get up until the time I go to bed.

I have to say my hubby has been wonderful through this, and I believe it's made us a little closer in a way (I think we bond right now over griping and complaining about mom on our trips to get groceries or run errands - or that's our excuse to get out of the house anyway lol).

It's just changed the overall routine and norm of our whole household, and been challenging for our kids as well.

We are looking for mom a place to live where she will get good care and where we can visit, but won't have to be caring for her 24/7. I just yearn to get our privacy back. I miss our late night conversations after the kids have gone to bed, or the little flirty things we would do when no one was looking, which would be just awkward now with mom here because she is always in the living room staring at us.
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I've been helping my aunts and mother since they moved nearby in the 90s. At first it was just minimal, then as each had failing health, doctor visits, arranging for in home health care, and managing their dysfunctional relationships. Now it's just my mother, and she is the most demanding and relentless of all of them. It dates back to my childhood as she attempted to groom me to take care of her and my alcoholic father. However, I met and married a wonderful man who listens and guides me through it, helping me to stand firm on setting boundaries and not cave to imagined issues and needs. I also have a great support system including family, friends, doctors, and specialists who understand. My advice would be to carefully and objectively analyze what your loved ones' needs are, and determine the boundaries you can live with and have no regrets. You want them to be safe and as healthy as possible, but you shouldn't have to give up your life to meet entitled and/or unrealistic expectations that completely overwhelm and drain you (believe me though, she tries). One day it will be you and your significant other, family, and friends who you can turn your full attention to, and you want to have good health and peace of mind to enjoy your life. After all, you earned it, too. Thoughts and prayers to everyone in this delicate situation.
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When I first posted, it was because I was having a really tough time after my elderly mother-in-law with dementia moved in with us from France. And I still am having a tough time, but this forum made me realize that I am not alone and it has given me a lot of perspective on the issues that I have posted about.

Regarding my own relationship, I'll also answer the question that I posed. The most challenging part for me is that I feel as though I have lost a million degrees of freedom. Freedom to go on vacation. Freedom to go out with my husband without major preparation for his mom. Freedom to have friends over without including her in the plans. Freedom to just be a couple without thinking about her. It feels that MIL is hovering over us all the time and expects us to keep her busy.

My husband is an only child - his mom and dad divorced when he was only 2, and she never remarried. I often feel like the third wheel when they are at dinner and talking about the past and people I cannot relate to nor never met, which they do all the time.
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sheba31 Jun 2018
I understand and can relate to all that you say. My husband is also an only child, and we have been deeply involved with his mother for 8 years since she could no longer drive. For the past 4 years, she has been unable to be left alone so if we were not there, I had to arrange for a caregiver.

I also miss the freedom to do things that I would like to do both alone or with my husband without considering her needs first. I know that it can't last forever but some days are excruciatingly long.
It has definitely affected our romantic life. Even though my mother lives in assisted living, she's got serious health issues and her lack of mobility makes taking care of her a daily chore for us both. It's just hard to feel frisky when everything revolves around mother. Mother needs depends. Mother isn't taking her medicine. Mother has to go to the doctor for her leg. Mother falls and breaks two fingers. The assisted living facility personnel are constantly calling either me or my wife about mother not cooperating with her own care program. So, it's just one thing after another and our romantic life is taking a definite hit because we just don't have the energy.
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I remember when I told a friend who's mother was in AL, he said "you’re life will never be the same". I had no idea how it would change. Dad never lived with us luckily, and the first few years were fine but once he began going downhill, memory getting worse, falling all the time, getting angry, having 2 surgeries and 4 rehab stays, it got so much more consuming. We were his world and it all fell on me. At first my husband was relatively detached and didn’t want to be involved or even hear my "stories" about dad. One day I sort of blew up and told him I needed his support. It was too much for me to be in this alone and that’s what being married is part of. He turned a corner after that. I agree with another poster that the constant conversations centered around dad can get old. Now dad is in a NH and my husband surprised me one day by saying he was going to visit dad once a week to check on him. He wanted to take off the pressure I felt to see dad. I think he knew the immense stress and emotional upheaval I felt when dad was yelling at me and blaming me for moving him there. It was so bad I took 2months off from seeing him and then I got stress induced colitis when I started to see him again. So my husband is a saint to me now and I think it’s made him grow in compassion as a person.
Helpful Answer (16)

Some of ya'll must be in my head because your experiences are so similar, lol! It's been very challenging. My mother is very needy and totally ignores any boundaries/privacy. We've both lived with her and not. Even when we don't live together, she's demanding and needy. She has to be included in everything we do, expects us to come every weekend (we live out of state); we can't plan vacations or have any time for ourselves. She's constantly blowing up our phones, often several times a day. It's all-consuming. Thankfully, my husband has been a saint and totally supports me in it, but often I'm too stressed and tired to give him the attention he needs, which is a recipe for disaster, so I'm trying really hard to balance it all. My prayers go up for all caregivers!
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When Mom moved in with us, it was then we found out she didn’t sleep at night. Our house is large & easily accommodated 3 couples & 1 single person, with enough common & private spaces for veryone. It shrank considerable when Mom moved in. The relationship affected the most was my son & his GF who were living with us. They lost their private unwind space (the living room) & were basically confined to their bedroom. After a month we realized Mom needed more care that our little village could give her. It took us another month to find & move her into an AL facility. It took us a long time to recover from the disastrous impact of Mom living with us.

Realizing that, moving my demanding, narcissistic MIL in with us is not even an option.
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Total wipe out! But lets be open and honest here! I dont have an sweet, happy, loving mom, waning in her senior years with dignity and grace, embracing her grown grandchild and family, dealing with the stress an sadness an aging parent brings. I have a bitter 90 year old, who has been bitter since 1957 when I accidentally appeared on the planet ( I DO HAVE THAT IN WRITING BTW-along with details of the worse child birth I put her thru... hummmm several times, actually)

Aaaaanyway, Trying to be a daughter, a caregiver, sole benefactor bit me royally. The more I over looked, the worst it got. I put the respect for parenthood before my husband and my family.

The good part was my 2 kids know I went 150% full on daughter and are proud of the daughter I am.

The bad part is the conversations, arguments, unspoken arguments, full on battles, no talking and the night he thru his ring at me and walked out.
We couldnt seem to get to the point where I wasnt taking them (at the time) or her since he passed OVER him, I was trying to find a happy medium, struggling to find a way-no having the tools to do it, there were no open forums like this and it was trying to understand feelings I couldnt put my finger on.
I figured when you get married, your family got bigger. I was an idiot. I didnt know once I married, it became "in-laws and out-laws" as I used to call it. She tells him to his face-" Blood is thicker than water Mister and you can be replaced". We have heard that so many times, its now a saying.

I dont sit quietly btw and take it either. He will not disrespect her, he has successfully avoid her for 8 years now, never being in the same room or answering the phone. He has also not prevented me from medical emergencies and all the time that takes to be there. Nor has he refused her financial help when she got slammed with a huge bill she couldnt handle.

Granted over the years we have both mellowed, but for the first 15-20 years of marriage, there was a ton of un-necessary damage. Every holiday, every DAM HOLIDAY was a battle. I hated them.......I knocked myself stupid, to plan, prevent and intercept possible issues...right down to seating arrangements so they would be face to face or near each other.
And we dont live next door to her either, we are 1500 miles apart ! Yup, all this crap and many miles in between. Flight schedules scare me, lol!
Panic set in....holidays are here, OMG!

Un-inviting didnt work-lying about not having the holidays didnt work either, and I got busted lying about it too. If I said Im going to....., didnt matter. I came home and she was here, 3 or 4 times. Got the ticket, and took a cab from the airport. UN ANNOUNCED!
One or two times, my door bell is the cab driver with luggage. My mistake was not slamming the door and dead bolting it. You should have heard those fights! There we were, sitting in the car, in the drive way, no keys, freezing to death! He insisted I knew, I was so pissed that he thought I did know! Ever try to get a hotel room 3 days before Christmas w/o reservations?

See what I mean, un necessary damage? He called it a Morgue a lot of times. Thank God, we had kids, they got us thru Christmas Mornings. I remember one year, she would not shut up about having a real tree, it was a fire hazard, with children in the house, what are you thinking. Every phone call, every person that came thru the door had to hear about how stupid we are having a real tree- endangering our kids! The tree was fine, well watered and watched like a hawk! Fond holiday memories! Ugh.
So ya, did my relationship with him change- absolutely! Is it stronger over all, yup, now that we are older- married 40 years in October. BUT, that was our doing and a blessing- we both figured out she wasnt worth the fight, feelings or time that took away from us.

What would I yearn to get younger memories. I wish we had the christmas parties I avoided- I wish I attended the holidays I gave up with others. I wish my kids first communions, confirmations, graduations, and a ton of holidays were less darker memories of the fights in the car, its too hot, its too cold, its to crowed, I cant hear them, this is too long, people drink, people smoke, its too loud, there is no parking, I dont like the food, why did you go here, the silver ware is dirty, waitress is a bitch, wheres the bath room, Im tired..... and everything else that would come out for hours on end.
I wish I had severed the cord, before I married and never looked back.
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