Thursday 1 February 2024

Couples as Caregivers

February 14th is of course Valentine's Day and this year, I am planning a very special Caregiving Essentials webinar with... my husband! Jim and I have been married for 47 years and for most of those, we have been caregivers. As a couple, we've cared for our mothers, my step-father and of course our son Nicholas. I've been reflecting lately on what it takes to give care and maintain a loving, spousal relationship. There is no denying, it's a challenge.

There's something about caregiving that takes the "red" out of "hot" in the marital bed. Maybe it's the fact that we are constantly watching for the needs of another. Or perhaps we are just too tired. You can't drink from an empty cup and you cannot experience flickers of passion if you feel like a wet dishcloth.

What happens when the needs of that vulnerable charge never really diminish, they increase day by day?  We keep our caregiver eye firmly fixed on our loved one... we keep them safe.  So, what does it take to keep the romantic fires alight?  I would say that it requires a decision - a decision to look away from your care recipient for a few minutes and look at your partner.  It's difficult, especially when looking only at your loved one becomes a habit - a habit that eventually feels like necessary breathing.

And TIME is the enemy here.  Most caregivers have no respite, especially if their loved one is complex.  One couple I know who run a home hospital for their 42 year old son have not been out to dinner since 1997.  They cannot trust others to look after their precious son - his care would tax even a well-staffed, state of the art medical facility.

Some couples will have to muster lots of determination to make that decision to remain close.  Many will have to create complicated puzzles for respite plans, however brief.  But once the decision is made to have some physical contact with a partner, the decision is there - it becomes real.  Hands will be held, necks will be stroked, hugs have a chance of leading to something closer.

It takes courage to turn away from a fragile elder, medically complex child or ill spouse, even for a minute.  But a little planning to ensure the best safety measures possible for a break of fifteen minutes or a weekend away can make a caregiver and his or her partner into a couple.

1 comment:

klaus said...

The unique create Snapchat filter I made for my closest friend's birthday party absolutely rocked the party! To complement the celebratory mood, I incorporated lively details like confetti and balloons into the design. Everyone had a blast taking pictures with the Snapchat filter, and it made our event stand out. It would be a great addition to your next party, so I suggest making one! It adds a personal touch that is both easy and memorable.