Mental Health Caregiving is challenging on relationships, marriage is no exception. As a couple who cares for a child, parent, or other loved one find themselves in financial hardships, pressed for quality time, and in a tug of war of words have discovered.
There is not much research out at this time exclusively for mental health caregivers, but the research for caregivers of elderly loved ones is abundant. For the sake of information those studies were used.
According to Caregiver.com's Survey on Marriage & Caregiving, out of 300 respondents, 80% of those who participated in the study said that caregiving placed a strain on their marriage.
One caregiver shared, "Even strong marriages, like mine, suffers from the imbalance in household and child responsibilities because one of us is caring for a parent. Decreased time together, lack of opportunity for consistent communication, resentment of the needy parent, shift in use financial resources,increased fatigue and stress all increase the strain on a marriage."
The study also showed:
"89% said that caregiving caused them to spend more time away from their spouse.
46% said that caregiving had a negative impact on their romantic relationship with their significant other.
25% of respondents said that caring for an ill or aging relative played a significant role in their divorce or separation."
In my Blog post "Caregiving & Marriage - The Strain On Your Union" I discuss personal accounts of me and my husband and how caregiving almost destroyed our marriage:
"As we had our very own tug of war over the medical treatment of my [adult] son, as we became more frustrated with our inability to grasp how he could be fine, and all of a sudden not be, or if it was all a "put on", there was constant conflict..."
As a blended family we had other factors that also played a role in placing strain on what was already a difficult time in your marriage. We made it through those tough times because we chose each other. It sounds simple but it wasn't. It meant choosing to go to counseling. It meant choosing to make date nights, even if we just sat there staring at our plates, we kept going until it became easier to talk to each other outside of caregiving again. We chose to recognize what we were facing was bigger than who we were, and that we had to find a way to make peace with our new lives. That meant new strategies. It meant flexibility. It meant compromise. It meant honestly about how we felt. It meant asking for help from each other and those we trusted.
Not all marriages will see the same success as there can be other factors involved including a union previously damaged and strained prior to the caregiving, and the caregiving just pushed it over the edge. Whatever the case, as with anything worth having, we fight for what we believe in, and in the case of marriage, both people have to believe they want to save it.
Support from other mental health caregivers is a great way to find ways to cope. Hearing from other couples how they have made it through or what they've gone through can help immensely. Just to know you aren't alone, and to find other resources you may not know about otherwise. Homagi's "CareFULLY" is an online mental health caregiver community where you can find other caregivers who are also on this journey. Take a tour of "CareFULLY" here.
Therapy for caregivers is a great tool and investment, and some organizations offer free counseling and mental health family caregiver support groups like NAMI's "Family to Family"
Marriage & Caregiving
80% of Caregiver Respondents said Caregiving put a strain on their marriage
"There are spiritual parts of ourselves that play a critical role in health and healing. Listen to your heart, for it's in your heart where that felling tells you, "I'm not quite where I want to be." Once you hear that, honor it. Then you can begin to do something."
- Dr. Marcellus A. Walker, founder of the Center for lifeline Health, and medical director of Wayne Woodland Manor (From: Blessed Health the African American Woman's guide to physical and spiritual well being by Melody T. Mc Clound, M.D. and Angela Ebron