Choosing between spouse and elderly parent

Choosing Between Spouse and Elderly Parent: Tips for Married Caregivers

How to Be a Good Caregiver for Elderly Parent and Still Have a Healthy Marriage

One of the hardest problems in personal relationships is trying to make a marriage work when caring for an elderly parent. In the end, keeping a marriage together is a full-time job in and of itself before adding anything else to the mix. Even though you may love your parent, it is also important to keep your marriage healthy. You should not have to choose between the two to keep things running well. Read on for our tips on how to take care of an elderly parent and keep your marriage healthy.

Who Should Come First, Elderly Parents or Spouse?

When caring for an aging or sick parent, a family member may need help or even to move in with you and your family. It is not easy to keep up with the demands of marriage and care for aging parents simultaneously. The adult child feels like they owe it to the parents who were always there for them to take care of them. However, balancing the care for your parents and your marriage does not always go well. 

The most important step for your marriage and sanity is communication. Start by talking to your spouse and your elderly parent. You should not have to choose between them, instead find better solutions to your problems. Communication can help to prevent fights, meltdowns, ill feelings, and other issues. 

When you and your spouse need alone time or a break, it’s best to have a plan in place for someone to care for your elderly parents. This way, you do not need to choose between your two commitments. Have a family meeting to discuss possible problems can help smooth things over when they arise. Consider using respite care to help you get the time you need alone with your spouse. 

How Does Caregiving Affect Marriage?

Before your parents’ health started to get worse, you probably spent most of your time with your own family, whether that was just your spouse or your spouse and kids. You might have worked full-time after having kids, or you might have stayed at home to care for them. Now that your parent is getting older and needs care, you have even more on your plate. Here are some common problems that arise when you start caring for an elderly parent while married. 

Less Time And Energy To Spend With Your Family

Your responsibilities before your parents already took up all or most of your time, and now you have another one to add. Not only are elderly parents time-consuming but physically demanding, which shifts your focus from your family to your parents. 

You will not have much time left at the end of the day if you have to split your time between work, your family, and an elderly family member. Date nights may stop, leisurely activities, or alone time. Now you will either be taking care of your elderly parent or trying to get more sleep. After all, you can not just leave your elderly parent in the care of anyone and may feel guilty any time you leave the house, even to get groceries.

Ways to Avoid Having to Choose Between Spouse and Elderly Parent

When a couple takes in an elderly parent or two, their child ends up with the brunt of the responsibility and all of the emotions. They end up with the burden of trying to maintain their other relationships and full-time care of their parents. However, you should not have to choose between a spouse and a parent. Instead, find ways to separate the relationships, even if only for a few hours. 

Send your parents to respite care for a weekend or ask a sibling to come and watch them for a date night. While it often feels like everything is on the one spouse’s shoulders, this should not be the case. You have resources available even under health care that can help to balance your life and parental responsibilities. Start with lowering your expectations. If you have too many things taking up your time, determine what you can drop, such as activities or unnecessary responsibilities such as a club or group. 

Remember, though, you chose to marry your spouse and spend your life with them, and while you may need to care for your parents, that may not mean you need to care for them in your home without you losing your life for their care. If you do not have the experience or training, you may not be the best option to care for a sick parent or one who requires more help. Balance what you need and can do between what they need and where they will be best cared for. 

Maintain open communication for a healthy marriage

Open and honest communication is one of the most important things for a healthy marriage. This is especially important when trying to be a caregiver and still give your spouse the attention they need. Without communication, you cannot know what thoughts are going through each other’s minds, which can lead to complications such as jumping to conclusions. 

Also, you cannot make decisions together without first talking. Tell your partner if you are upset or stressed. You should also let them know if you think you are taking on too much.

Stay organized

When you take care of an elderly parent, you have a lot on your plate. It can be hard for anyone to handle this and their other responsibilities simultaneously. Plus, it can be hard to remember everything. Stay organized with apps on your smartphone or tablet and utilize a good calendar. Keeping a list will help you ensure you take care of your duties to your spouse before you get caught up in what your elderly parent needs. This will help you keep your marriage healthy even though you have to take care of other people.

Set healthy boundaries

If your elderly parent is too demanding, you have to learn where to draw the line. You can only do so much, and you need to worry about your own life. Instead of taking on too many responsibilities, let your elderly parent know what you can and cannot do. For the things you cannot do, find a home provider to manage your parent’s needs. This will take some of the stress off of your shoulders too.

Manage stress

When you are also trying to keep your marriage healthy, caring for a parent makes things even harder. There are many ways to keep a marriage together, but managing stress is one of the most important aspects. Find a place where you and your spouse can go to feel relaxed as often as you can, such as a campground, a hotel, or even simply stay home alone. Also, take time to do things you like, like working out, reading, or going for a walk.

Prioritizing your spouse

No matter how much you love your parents, you should always put your partner first. You chose them to spend your life with, so making sure your marriage is healthy should be your top priority. Again, though, you should not have to choose between your spouse and your elderly parent. However, you may need to get outside help, so you and your spouse have alone time. 

Enlist help from siblings

If you have decided that assisted living or a nursing home are out of the question for any reason, then your elderly parent will have to live with a family member. Unless you are an only child, your siblings should be able to help at least for a few nights when you need a break. However, if they are unwilling, then you will need to gain help from people outside of the family, such as a respite care center. 

“Caring for Elderly-in-law Ruined Marriage”: Dealing with Caregiver Resentment from Spouse

Your spouse can get jealous, angry, and resentful because you have to spend so much time and money on your aging parent. Even if they used to get along well with your parents, they could start to feel like a burden to your spouse. Fix this the same way as with most other problems, with quality communication and carving out alone time for you and your spouse. Without communication, you may inadvertently start a chain reaction of resentment. 

Will an elderly parent moving in ruin my marriage?

Moving an elderly parent in will complicate your marriage, but with the right communication and help, you can keep your marriage intact. When taking care of elderly parents gets too hard, it is important to ask for help. This will let you keep your marriage and make sure that your parent gets the help they need, all at the same time. 

What other options are there if caregiving is getting in the way of my marriage?

You are only one person who can only handle so much in a twenty-four-hour period. Allow yourself to take some of the responsibility off your shoulders because while you can do it all, that does not mean you should. Have someone come into the house and take care of your parents for a few hours each day or utilize respite care. Finally, ask siblings to help out or even other family members like aunts or cousins.

For more caregiving options or questions, contact Stellar Care today.

Related Articles

Latest Blog Posts
Why Do Elderly People Feel Cold All the Time?

As people age, their bodies undergo various changes that can make them feel colder, even in moderately cool environments.

Answers for Elderly Person Feeling Hot All the Time

When an elderly person gets overheated they may feel excessively hot due to medications, thyroid issues, dehydration, decreased blood circulation, or hormonal changes.

Skin Breakdown in Elderly: Causes & Prevention

Skin breakdown is a significant concern in elderly care and poses risks of pressure ulcers, infection, and serious complications.

Are Bed Rails Allowed in Assisted Living Facilities?

The use of physical restraints is highly regulated in California to ensure the rights and dignity of residents are protected.

Our Services

Memory Care

Our experienced staff provides a structured environment where residents with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias can thrive with set routines.

Club Stellar

Residents who are early on in the progression of their dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may be eligible for our Club Stellar program and special rate.


Our staff prepares nutritious meals three times a day, featuring in-season fruits and vegetables, homemade soups, and diabetic options.


The Stellar Care activities staff curates tailored activities, field trips, and programs for all residents at various levels in the progression of their dementia.

A Memory Care Community

4518 54th Street  San Diego, CA 92115
Phone: (619) 287-2920

LICENSE #374603625

Copyright © 2023 by Stellar Care | Website Development by blue media marketing, Inc.