I am in the beginning stages of dealing with my senior father. All thrown on me in less than a week. Only child as well. My marriage is rocky at best. Is anyone here dealing with a very unsupportive spouse while caring for your senior? Friends and family have been supportive. Divorce has always been on the table for years. But this is my light bulb moment. Do I deal with two major life events at once? Caregiving and divorce. Or just one at a time?

When you say unsupportive, do you mean that he won't help with your parent, or do you mean that he complains that you aren't "doing" for him because you are doing for your dad all the time?

The question of "what do we owe our parents?" comes up here a lot. It is easy while in the midst of an "emergency" to throw yourself into caregiving completely and to the exclusion of all else in life. That isn't healthy.

What sort of help does your dad need? What are HIS resources in getting those needs met? What sort of support can dad get from caregivers coming into his home, or in a facility?
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to BarbBrooklyn

That's a decision only you can make. I will tell you that if your spouse is unsupportive now, it will NOT get better as the caregiving demands grow.

Whatever you decide, make sure you have made preparations for your OWN future, whether it be with your spouse or alone. Contact a divorce and an elder attorney to make sure you have all your ducks in a row, from the caregiving side and the personal side.
Good luck!
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Reply to notgoodenough

I did it. Was my mom’s caregiver for a year before she went into memory care, and that was the same year I initiated my divorce. My ex-husband had always been unsupportive but I guess it really hit home when I was going through so much and all he had for me was his usual demands and criticism and no help or emotional support at all. (One example is the day I got up, shoveled snow at our house, drove to my moms and shoveled her snow, and made sure she ate her breakfast and took her meds, then drove back home, got ready for work, and worked 8-10 hours. He was unemployed and sat on the couch the whole time.)
Also it clicked in my mind that it would always be like that, and if I ever am in the situation my mother was in I could not expect any level of caregiving from him, but he would feel entitled to caregiving from me just because he didn’t feel like taking care of himself. It made 2019 one of the roughest years of my life, but I don’t regret it at all because an unsupportive spouse is really just one more burden. And I knew that at least that aspect of my life would improve once it was over (and it did!).
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Reply to Doggomom
LittleOrchid Feb 6, 2021
I understand. One of the things in my divorce that went contrary to the things my divorced friends told me was that I actually never missed anything from that failed marriage. Friends told me that once the initial pains were past I would miss things that the ex had always done. Nope. In fact, once I started living for just me and my kids I was amazed at how easy it all was! It took months to realize just how much time I had spent taking care of that overgrown baby and his unrealistic expectations. The boys and I had a great time breaking all the silly rules that had oppressed us. My only regret is that I didn't work up the resolve to make that move 5 years earlier. Money was short, I lost a lot of friends who were horrified that I would divorce, was voted out of church membership, but the kids and I found new friends and loved our new life. Several years later I met a man who was a real partner and a much better father to my sons than the one we left behind.
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One huge life altering thing at a time.

Don't file for divorce or even contemplate it while you are dealing with a needy LO.

Point to make: this is YOUR relative, right? My DH wouldn't and doesn't have a single thing to say or do about my side of the family, as far as CH went, and goes. He has NEVER just 'dropped by' my mother's home and he never, ever would. I suppose if I needed him to move or lift something heavy, I might ask him, but even then, I cannot see a situation where he would opt to be involved at all. Any CH I do, I do because I choose to.

Flip side--he expects me to be front and center in his mother's care. I used to be, but it was too stressful and she was so very, very unkind to me, I stepped away and actually haven't seen her for almost a year. He is VERY unhappy with having to go see her alone, not using me as a buffer. BUT, he finally gets how hard it's been to carry on a façade of a relationship with her for all these years.

I've entertained passing thoughts about divorcing DH over the years. Actually went to see a lawyer once. At the first of this year I laid it out for DH that he had to get help for his chronic depression and needed to deal with his anger issues or I was leaving. And I meant it.

In total shock still--he is working on being a nicer guy. I still do very PT care for mom, but nothing for his mom. He has had some 'aha' moments and he is working through them. It's HARD to have a paradigm shift when the brain clutch is so rusty!

If you already KNOW he's not going to be supportive, then don't expect anything from him. Do what you need to do, care for mom as you want/need to and don't expect any help.

After dad has either passed or stabilized--then get some counseling about divorce. Divorce should never be entertained when anger is fresh and raw.

Good Luck. You aren't alone in this dynamic at all. Since DH and I split CG duties between our mothers and don't 'help' each other, we have been doing better.

Far from perfect, but much better. He doesn't even broach talking about what his mother needs, as it no longer pertains to me AT ALL.
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Reply to Midkid58

Are you hoping to caregive your father in your home? Clearly that will not work in a troubled marriage. Only you can make decisions regarding your marriage. And only you can decide your own limitations, married or not married, to caregive your father. I think you may have to allow your father to have caregiving in-facility while you work on your own life and getting settled. Doing these two life changes at the same time won't work. Yourself must be your priority. Only you can make these decisions and it sure isn't easy coming to any comfort zone. Not everything has a "good answer".
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Reply to AlvaDeer

So sorry you are going through this and feel so alone. I am glad you have supportive friends and family. It might be time to lean into their support - and lots prayers - while you negotiate care for your father and sort out your marriage. If your husband can commit to staying in your relationship until you can negotiate care for your father, that would allow time to deal with one crisis relationship at a time. In reality, the crisis care for your father may reveal the underlying issues in your marriage in ways that are exceptionally clear.

Might I suggest that now is a good time to get some professional help.
1 - Start by securing legal help to get powers of attorney for medical and financial for your self on behalf of your father. Make sure your father has his will made out as well. Ask about trust funds or other financial devices to safeguard your father's finances for his care. Use your father's funds to pay for this.
2 - Make appointment with his usual medical doctor for evaluation on mental competency and physical issues. Since 75% of seniors aged 75+ years have some degree of Alzheimer's disease, it will probably be likely your father has a touch of this. Do not be surprised is his doctor makes recommendations for a geriatric neurologist to test for mental competency and geriatric psychiatrist if there is behavior issues or mental health issues. Ask for recommendations on disease progression and resources in your local area. Again, pay for this through your father's finances.
3 - Be prepared to do a lot of research over the next bit of time to secure whatever help your father needs. If he can not live alone, consider assisted living and full care residential facilities. The administrative staff have evaluation tools to help you decide which type of accommodation your father will need. I lean in the direction of others caring for your father since you appear to have limited support from others.
4 - Time to commit to counselling - at least for yourself. If your marriage relationship is rocky, you will do better with a trained, professional counsellor to look into your relationship issues. I can attest to the help that is available from faith-based communities that have professional counsellors. They can be compassionate to your plight while helping you address the problems - whether or not you decide to stay in your marriage. If your husband is willing to commit to counselling, he might be more amenable to male counsellor that you meet with together. If not, a female counsellor will be less threatening to your spouse.
5 - Make yourself #1 in care. You are going to have a lot of stress. You need to make sure your receive all the care you need to stay healthy physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Plan for 7-9 hours of sleep daily, 3 regular meals, time to care for your health, some time for exercise you enjoy, and time with those supportive family members and friends. Plan for some time with your spouse as well - doing things you enjoy together. If you have problems working this into your schedule, throttle back on commitments to others so you can maintain your health while meeting these challenges in your life.
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Reply to Taarna

It seems you have a lot on your plate with the decision to take care of your dad and having an unsupportive husband is even harder. My heart goes out to you. My advice is to speak to an attorney and find out your rights and then let your heart make the decision of a marriage that seems to be in trouble before this. No one should have to be in this position for wanting to do the right thing for their father but there might be alternatives for him and then decide if you are better off with or without your husband. Been there done that but once things are clear you will feel better. Best of luck to you.
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Reply to LMarrero

Well, the caregiving is very hard at the best of times and if husband is not helpful or is resentful, it will be worse. First of all, if it is early days with your father, please get his POA and will etc. taken care of before he is diagnosed with dementia.

My thoughts about marriage are that, if he is not supportive of you while caring for your father, how will he be in later years, in the event that you develop problems and need help? If you don't feel he will be helpful and supportive of you and if you don't feel that he would be the one you would turn to, then maybe better to divorce and deal with all stressors on your own, including your father. Then you want have the stress of dealing with him on top of your father's issued.
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Reply to dogparkmomma

I am in the camp of obtaining lots of legal advice at this point in time, from both an elder care attorney and a divorce attorney. Depending on dad’s condition, maybe you will live with him for awhile with in-home caregivers’ help, which would also give you time to stabilize your finances.
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Reply to SSAretired

I stayed in my marriage a long time with an unsupportive spouse. We all want things to "get better". BUT, that takes two. Sometime the other is not willing to work on it AND sometimes we don't see our own faults. Unless both work together it does not get "better". Which leaves you to decide the question "Am I willing to continue living with this situation?" There are challenges not staying as well. Are they doable for you?
I do know that you cannot help your father if you are in turmoil.
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Reply to Peace1

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