Did anyone else's relationship fall apart because of the stress of caregiving?


I cared for my father for 4 years in my home until his death 2 months ago. he had suffered 3 strokes and had parkinson's but died from Liver cancer. (He was in and out of nursing homes but he lived with us the majority of the time.) My boyfriend of 7 years helped very little. He like dad but caretaking is not something he does well. During these 4 yrs our relationship got to be very strained due to the stress of caring for dad and we also had financial problems due to me not working outside the home. Dad did pay some but during his short stays at nursing homes I could not find a job and we had to struggle financially. My boyfriend is the type that when a bill comes in you pay it NOW.. Sometimes this was not an option because of my unemployment issues. He is also of the mindset that anybody can find a job in a day or so if they really try. he is a mechanic and has never had any trouble getting a job.. Anyway, he moved out last July and told me he wasn't in love with me anymore but he did still love me. We did maintain contact but had a misunderstanding and we no longer speak. I just wanted to know if the men in families where the wife (girlfriend) is the caretaker feel unloved, unimportant , things like that. I feel like that was a problem with us. Did anyone else's relationship fall apart because of the stress of caregiving?

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Honestly, it's the people that STAY with care givers of elderly parents that I give kudos too. I wouldn't do it. I'm single, but if I did find someone and found out that they were a full time care taker of one or both of their parents, that's it. Game over. I took care of my own mom for over a decade. When did I have time for anything or anyone else but her? Hell, I didn't have time for ME let alone a relationship! I was so worn out and exhausted most days that taking a shower felt like more work. Of course any man would feel shoved onto the back burner in that situation, where all your time and effort, not to mention energy, is going into the care giving role. Marriages go to hell in a hand basket because of the care giving role. People can and do lose jobs and income in the care giver role. Who can work when they're dealing with someone who needs care around the clock? Based on my own experience, there's no way I'd have even tried to sustain a relationship while dealing with my mom. There just wasn't any TIME for anyone else, and I spent weeks, months, YEARS on end feeling like a worn out, exhausted hag. What man would want to be with someone that always had to put their mother/father first? What woman wants to be with a man that always has to put his mother/father first? The care giving role is a relationship destroyer. Period.

The bottom line? Enter into the care giver role 24/7 and life is over. Done. Finished. There won't be any time for anything...or anybody...else and that's a fact. Keep reading. This site will tell you all you need to know.
Helpful Answer (21)
Reply to StandingAlone

From the other perspective... I'm about to turn 46, wife is 53. We've had her mother in law with us for four years four months. We've been married six years three months. I am a very patient man, and in reality I do the majority of the daytime caregiving since I'm self-employed. Wife works, and must for both money and benefits for us. We have only one lady come in for four hours a day twice a week, that's all the help there is. That is nowhere near the help we need, as my mother in law needs 24/7 care and attention, from getting up, washed and dressed, to fixing meals and constant attention/companionship, to the end of the day getting her upstairs and ready for bed. My wife is so burnt out and fatigued, and she is well aware of the stress and strain it is putting on us in all facets - physically, emotionally, financially, our marriage. There is no time for us AT ALL. I am more than willing to help out - Heck, I moved my ENTIRE life and business to another state just so my wife could be within 15 minutes of her mother before we got married. Do I feel neglected and put aside? HECK YES!! I got married to have a partner in living life, not a life of caregiving, and certainly not a life of caregiving without any help whatsoever. I have done more than I care to type right now, including trying to communicate with my wife that we need help - It's been since July of 2010 when we first contacted the local Alzheimer's Association that I've asked over and over and over again for help. My wife is not dumb, she knows EVERY SINGLE FACET of the damage this is causing. And yet, her guilt consumes her and refuses to allow her to engage in outside help. I am frustrated beyond belief with everything. I do not believe you should totally disregard your spouse or significant other to care for a parent. You can care for them and be their advocate without tossing aside your loved one. My wife will say to me, "You know if your mother ever gets this way I'll do for her." The difference is, I'll NEVER put her in the position to do that. I love my mother, and will care for her and be her advocate, but we have an understanding (her idea, since my grandmother had Alzheimers and my mom for all intents and purposes gave up practically everything to care for her) that I am to NEVER give up my life for her, no matter how bad it gets. It's not mean, it's not insensitve, it's not devoid of feelings. I don't judge those that are doing it 100% alone, but I feel if you are in a relationship with someone, you shouldn't just push them aside. It's not fair....
I do feel bad for those that have insensitive spouses or significant others that don't want to pitch in. That also is not fair, you should step up and help in some fashion, absolutely.
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Reply to aweinelk

I know I sound like a broken record, but my mother was near death, living alone and putting my sister through hell. No one that knew Mother thought that she would stay in the NH. But, she has and is thriving! Her health is 100% better, with 24 hour care, bathes, and nutrition. We buried my sister a year ago tomorrow, a day before her 70th birthday. Once the caregiver dies (and they do) the patient has to move on. People need to think "what happens, if I am no longer able to care for mom?"
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Reply to Chicago1954


The statement in your post that " my parents will not really care that much if our marriage was broken if they thought it mean more time with them caring for their needs." sounds like my MIL's outlook on both my marriage and on my SIL's marriage. She only misses her husband because he is not here to do something for him.

Such an outlook on life and the lives of others is pathetic and reflects someone who has grown old but has not grown up. People like that have never had healthy boundaries in their life and don't want anyone else to have them either.

Other than treating them as a fellow human being I really have a hard time respecting them because they are wise elderly people. I love being around wise elderly people, but not old kids who selfishly use people in their elderly years like they have their entire life.
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Reply to cmagnum

I have taken care of my Mom since 2010. She is difficult and that's on a good day. I was in a relationship, but no more. I could never go out and she allows me to have no friends in "her" house. I've reached the end of my rope. I can't bear being so isolated. I'm moving 1200 miles away where I have friends. My brother who has done nothing can deal with her. He conned her into building this duplex and she signed her half over to him. He can deal with her. Let him find out what a mean old lady she is. I've done my time.
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Reply to anonymous439773

Yeah, that's the truth-Ruth! Even though my mother is relatively healthy, emotionally it's an other story and that has caused me tremendous stress and illness. I finally decided to see a therapist which helped a lot. I made the time and never told my mother. I started making up lies so I could have a few periods of times for myself. She always tries the F.O.G approach to manipulate me. I have learned to not be manipulated to try to have compassion, to let God judge her, to hang on to my sense of self, to sort out the old garbage from what is going on today, to not let their problems overshadow your own survival. But even though I am inching forward, it consumes me night and day. Meditation, yoga, dance to one song a day, a walk, a talk to a friend, eat your favorite fruit and savor its sweetness, whatever it is, do something to restore yourself. Care for yourself as much as the elder parent. Pray for a peaceful release for everyone. It's the toughest trial I have ever, ever had! I am not enjoying it much at all! I feel for all of us. And it is very difficult for our elders too.
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Reply to juddabuddhaboo

Yes, my best friend left today for Georgia. We lived together in Maryland the past 7 years. She tried to endure the past two years having my elderly mother live with us. She was kind, humorous and my rock of support. Shedid eeverything for my mom. But my selfish mom was unfriendly and never smiled and constantly complained. My time has been devoted to my full time job and taking care of my mom. I am depressed today but someday my partner and I will once again have a home. So yes care giving has caused me to now have a house and not a happy home. I feel sad for others whose relationships have suffered. I agree that you really have little time to nurture your relationship and that is so unfair. My mother doesn't care all she worries about is her care.
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Reply to musiclover1211

Sweetie, you are not alone!! My husband has pulled this same crap a couple of times...expects bills to be paid in full ASAP, is on my back continually because I do not have a job that "pays better money"--as if I enjoy working at a job that pays so little (!!)--and if we did not live with in my parent's home and care for my dad we'd be homeless....! Then he snaps to his senses and realizes, DUH, that despite the difficulties this is the hand we've been dealt and to GROW UP.

Your boyfriend lost the best thing that most likely ever came, or ever will come, into his life. I mean this!!! You have an inner strength that you've acquired because you have coped with the slings and arrows of Outrageous Life's Fortune.

You are precious. He is clueless.
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Reply to kthln3

Sharadale I will quote to you from the psychiatrist who changed my way of looking at things "Mrs. S., insight is a highly over-rated commodity". In real therapy, insight into the situation is not what you seek. It's the ability, the support, the gravitas to CHANG ONE S OWN BEHAVIOR that is key. Rather than nag when he lights up, to leave the house, to put on loud music, to ignore it. To do what you haven't done before. The only thing YOU can change is YOU
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn

My brothers marriage of 40 years ended when his wife became the full time caregiver for her mother for 10 years. He told me " If I could do it over, I would have hired a caregiver from an agency to take care if my MIL & we could have still had our lives". It's so sad to see & hear how often relationships are destroyed when you try to do what you feel is right out of love, but your life is destroyed in the process. Now, my brother (age 66)is very ill & on dialysis. The best years of his life, lost while supporting his MIL with Alzheimer's for 10 years. MIL lived to be 97.
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Reply to CaringRN

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