How to be a good, caring son or daughter and still have a strong marriage
Can you be both a good, caring son or daughter and still have a strong marriage?
It is possible, but it takes effort on both sides.
If you provide support to a parent who is elderly, you are not alone.
According to AARP (formerly called the American Association of Retired Persons), unpaid family care is carried out by 1 in 5 Americans.
Loyalty to parents over spouse
Some families struggle to find balance and the adult child feels they may have to choose between his/her parents or his/her spouse.
This can be a difficult decision for many people, as both relationships are incredibly important.
Unfortunately, some people may feel like they have to choose one over the other.
For some, their loyalty will always lie with their parents.
This may be because they have been raised by their parents and have a longstanding emotional bond with them.
They may feel they owe their parents everything and feel like they must take care of them.
Many adult children feel their parents is their top priority and are more in need of care than their spouse.
This could be because the parent is elderly and is no longer able to take care of themselves, while the spouse is still able to do so.
However, some adult children feel like they should put their spouse first.
This may be because they have been married for a long time and have developed a strong emotional bond with their spouse.
They have the same feelings as the former group in that they owe their spouse everything and so must take care of them.
This could be because the spouse has a disability or is struggling financially, while the parent is not.
Reciprocal parent child relationships
As our parents age, it’s natural to want to take care of them the way they took care of us when we were growing up.
However, it’s important to remember that they are not the same people they once were.
They may need help with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and eating especially if the aging parents are living in nursing homes.
They may also have health problems and need help managing their finances or medications.
If you have a full-time job and aging parents, you may feel like you’re being pulled in two different directions.
Here are some tips to help you achieve this balance:
1. Respect the relationship between your parents and your spouse and marriage
Respecting the relationship between your elderly parents and spouse helps you maintain a strong relationship with both of them.
It can be difficult to balance caring for elderly parents and maintaining your marriage, but it is important to remember that both relationships are important to you.
You can show respect for your parents by listening to them and being present to them.
If you are always putting your parents first, it can make your spouse feel neglected and unimportant.
This can lead to tension and conflict in your marriage.
You can also show respect for your spouse by making time for them and being attentive to their needs.
Let your spouse know if there is anything he or she can do to help out with the caregiving.
Even if they can’t help out physically, they may be able to help out in other ways.
They can provide emotional support or taking on some of the household responsibilities.
By respecting the relationships between your parents and spouse, you will be able to better care for both of them and maintain a strong marriage.
2. Don’t put one relationship ahead of the other
One of the ways you can be a good caring son or daughter and maintain a strong marriage is to not put one relationship ahead of the other.
When you make your parents a priority, your spouse may feel like they are second best.
This can lead to tension and conflict in your marriage.
It is important to find a balance so that you can both give your parents the attention they need and still have a strong relationship with your spouse.
Spending time with your parents does not always have to involve taking care of them.
You can also spend time with them by talking, going for walks, or just spending time in the same room.
By taking this approach, you will be able to better balance your relationships and ensure that everyone in your life feels loved and supported.
Make time for your parents and spouse
You want to be there for your loved ones as they need you.
Open communication is key.
Talk to your parents about their concerns and what they need from you.
Talk to your spouse about your parents and how much time you’re spending with them.
And be honest with yourself about what you can realistically handle.
Be proactive and have other family caregivers rostered to accompany the aging parent to the doctor appointments.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for help from other family members or professional caregivers.
Providing elder care is a major responsibility.
It is useful to keep a “to do list” to stay organized with your time such as making sure your mom or dad gets to their appointments.
It may seem time consuming, but this low tech method is one of the most important things to have in your tool kit of staying on top of things.
Remember, the shortest pencil is better than the longest memory!
3. Maintain a healthy distance when necessary
Caring and respecting both your partner and your parents doesn’t mean you should always be in the middle of every family dispute or disagreement.
It can be difficult to maintain a healthy distance when necessary, especially if you are also providing care for your elderly parent.
However, it is important to remember that you cannot take care of everyone all the time and you need to take care of yourself to be able to provide care for others.
This means setting boundaries and making sure that your own needs are met.
It can also mean taking a break from your parent occasionally to have some time for yourself.
This may not be easy, but it is important to maintain your health and well-being.
4. Encourage compromise and resolution
Being a caregiver for a parent is a difficult but rewarding task.
It is important to be able to compromise and resolve conflicts to be a good son or daughter and maintain a strong marriage.
Often, there will be times when you have to make tough decisions about how to divide your time and resources.
It is crucial to communicate with your husband or wife and come up with a plan that works for both of you.
You may also need to seek outside help, such as from a support group or professional caregiver, to manage the demands of caregiving.
If you are the primary caregiver, it is important to have other family members shoulder their caregiving responsibility.
Make sure you have a family meeting every month, even if the other adult children do not live in the same city as the elderly parent.
This also paves the way for developing an elderly care plan for aging parents.
Now everyone is on the same page and working together.
You can provide the best possible care for your loved ones while still maintaining your own happiness and well-being.
Sometimes it can be difficult for both your parents and your spouse to come to a resolution, but you must do all you can to facilitate an agreement between them.
Through compromise and understanding, everyone will feel heard and respected in the end.
I know it is a tough time, but remember that it is possible.
With patience, compromise, and understanding of all parties involved, you can create a harmonious relationship between your family and your partner.
5. Take time for yourself
When you are stressed out, it is difficult to be fully present for your parents or spouse.
It is important to take time for yourself to recharge and maintain your own health.
We can’t pour from an empty cup, so make sure to schedule some time for personal care.
Personal care is essential and can help you to stay energized both mentally and physically when it comes to taking care of your loved ones.
When you are refreshed, you can be more patient and understanding with your parents.
You can also spend time with your spouse without feeling guilty or stressed.
Enjoying simple pleasures like reading a book or going on a walk without anyone else can give you the necessary space to recharge.
This will prevent caregiver burnout.
6. Ask for help when needed
It’s human nature to try and do everything ourselves, but this will only drain you physically, emotionally and mentally.
It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help when needed.
One of the best things that you can do for yourself and your parents is to be willing to ask for help when needed.
This shows that you acknowledge your limitations and that you understand that you cannot do everything on your own.
Get out and about
Caregiver families should not sacrifice their social life.
Asking for help when needed is good for a married couple.
It sends the message that you value family and your own life and health.
It can prevent feelings of resentment or anger, as well as stress and tension.
When both partners in a marriage feel like they are pulling their weight and helping out.
This can lead to a stronger and more fulfilling relationship.
No one is perfect and sometimes it can be overwhelming to manage all the responsibilities of caring for your parents and your spouse.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family, friends or even professional services if necessary.
Many support groups provide a friendly place where caregivers can de-stress and unburden themselves in an environment that is safe and non-judgemental.
Taking this step will make sure that everyone in your life is receiving the proper care and attention.
7. Talk to them – even if they’re not the best listeners
Even if your aging parents are not the best listeners, it’s important to talk to them about your situation.
They may not be aware of how much pressure you’re under, and they may feel guilty that they are not able to care for themselves.
By opening up the lines of communication, you can help them to understand your situation and ease their guilt.
Talking to your aging parents may not be easy, but it’s important to maintain a healthy relationship with them.
8. Show them you care with small gestures
Small gestures can go a long way in showing your aging parents that you care.
For example, something as simple as calling them every day or spending time with them on the weekends are important things that make a big difference.
Little things like taking the time to show them that you care will help them better understand how you feel.
9. Respect their decisions, even if you don’t agree with them
As our aging parents begin to lose the ability to take care of themselves, it can be difficult to watch from the side lines.
We may not agree with all of their decisions, but it’s important to respect their wishes.
Elderly parents may find it difficult to accept help, especially when it comes from their children.
They may have an idea of how they should be managing their lives that don’t match up with what you believe is best.
It’s important to remember that, regardless of the difficulties your parent faces in growing older, they still deserve respect and consideration.
Respect their decisions and try to understand where they are coming from.
Even if you don’t agree, it’s important to support them in whatever way you can.
You may be surprised at the outcomes of doing so.
The Confucian ideal of filial piety, or xiao, is one of the most important virtues in East Asian cultures.
The concept of xiao stipulates that children must respect and care for their parents above all else.
Throughout history, filial piety has been praised as a virtue that leads to social harmony and stability.
Filial piety has been a cornerstone of society.
The duty of children to honor and respect their parents is one that is found in virtually all cultures around the world.
While the specifics may vary from place to place, the general concept of children providing care remains the same.
Children are obligated to care for their parents both emotionally and physically as they age.
For millennia, this duty was seen as absolute.
A child who failed to provide for his or her parents was considered ungrateful and morally bankrupt.
But in recent years, there has been a shift in thinking about filial piety.
Increasingly, people are questioning whether it is still appropriate for children to be held responsible for their parents’ welfare.
This is in an era when so many seniors are living longer and healthier lives.
There is no easy answer to this question.
It is certainly reasonable for children to expect their parents to be self-sufficient and not rely on them for support.
However, many elderly parents are unable to take care of themselves and would be left destitute without assistance from their children.
So where should we draw the line?
Ultimately, it is up to each family to decide what is best for them.
Some parents will gladly accept help from their children, while others will prefer to manage on their own as long as possible.
Whatever approach a family chooses, everyone involved must communicate openly and honestly with each other about expectations and responsibilities.
This way, there will be less chance for misunderstanding and resentment to develop.
In my opinion, filial piety is still an important value worth upholding even in our modern society.
Elderly parents need not feel ashamed or embarrassed if they need help from their children.
Instead, they should be grateful that they have loving offspring who are willing to lend a hand.
Likewise, adult children should not feel guilty or resentful if they have to provide care for their parents.
It is a privilege rather than a burden.
By working together cooperatively and respectfully, families can ensure that everyone involved feels supported and loved.
The decision of whether or not to prioritize one’s parents over one’s spouse can be a difficult one.
On the one hand, it can be easy to feel loyal to one’s parents due to the many years of love and support they have given us.
This is especially if they have been by our side for a long time.
The decision comes down to what is best for both parties involved and there is no right or wrong answer.
No matter what decision you make, it is important to communicate with your spouse about why you are making the choice that you are.
This will help avoid any misunderstandings or resentment down the road.
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to prioritize one’s parents over one’s spouse is a personal one.
It should be made based on what is best for everyone involved.