Long-term health conditions can place immense pressure on relationships, especially when one partner acts as a carer for another. This can cause a shift in the dynamics of your relationship, which can be challenging for both people. Read our blog post below for helpful tips on managing a healthy relationship, in sickness and in health:
For some, caring for a sick spouse is an accepted part of marital life. For others, it can be a burden that breaks the marriage. According to the Carers Federation, you are classed as an unpaid carer if you support a family member, or friend, who is: ill, disabled, elderly, has severe mental health issues or substance misuse problems. The support you offer may be emotional or practical, including things like shopping, cooking, handling medication, or attending medical appointments with the person you care for. They may live with you, in their own home, or even in residential care.
You may have had to sacrifice a lot: money may be tight; or you may have had to give up your job and reduce your own social time. Caring for a loved one can be a lonely job; it is understandable that you may want to support your loved one, but it is okay to recognise your own needs too. It is not unusual for carers to feel resentful and underappreciated, but it is important to not let these emotions take hold, as depression and anxiety can be high amongst carers.
Carers UK (a non-profit organisation who makes it their mission to alleviate the pressure on carers all across the nation) state:
The pressure and expectations of caring can make carers particularly vulnerable.
How to look after yourself, your partner and your relationship
Illnesses are varied, some may be short term and recoverable, or may be life-long and chronic, and others may be life-limiting. Navigating how to keep your relationship healthy in difficult times, when the responsibility lies heavy on one person, can be difficult.
Read below for ways which you, and your partner, can help each other and remember the team you are:
- Make time for yourself: no matter how long or short. A few minutes of ‘you’ time can lift your mood.
- Getting out and socialising with others is also advantageous. Call upon friends and family to help out if you feel your situation is becoming too much.
- Check your local authority for information on how you can take regular respite.
- Let your partner know how you are feeling, especially on days when it’s tough. Regular communication can help alleviate pressures from building and escalating into an argument.
- If your partner is able to, ask them to meal plan for the week. This way, meal times become and joint effort and they can exercise their independence.
- If your partner is bed-bound, spend some quality time together doing an activity you can both enjoy, such as doing a crossword together or watching your favourite film. You could even spend an afternoon looking through old family pictures, using your shared history and humour to remember the good times.
- It is important to get some respite for yourself and other family members. If you have young children, treating yourselves to the odd day out can be a wonderful way to raise spirits.
- Seek support from local carers groups and chat to others who are going through a similar situation to you.
Useful websites for more information
Written by Frankie Freeman