May 30, 2016 | 8:00 am | By Pants Up Easy
Married life, no matter how harmonious of a relationship you have, is filled with challenges, as you try to manage finances, career goals, raise kids, maintain your home and so on. For many people, it’s the dream of what they’ll be doing when they retire that motivates them and gets them through the rough times. But what happens when real tragedy strikes, like an injury or disease that leaves one paralyzed? Long-term dreams may be quickly shattered. Formerly routine activities become difficult or in some cases impossible.
A spinal cord injury, for example may leave you unable to perform essential daily tasks without the help of a caregiver. Fortunately there are many professionals who practice various forms of therapy that will help you adjust to your condition. However, they won’t be with you constantly, and most often, it’s a family member who becomes your primary caregiver. We often associate the idea of being a caregiver with tending to the needs of an elderly parent, or perhaps a child with a disability, but in many cases, it’s a spouse who takes on that role. But is it really a viable arrangement to have your husband as your caregiver?
Changes in family roles
The new arrangement will undoubtedly be challenging for both of you. For a woman who was in the midst of a successful career, perhaps even the main breadwinner of the family, there are going to be significant adjustments to be made. Your directions and plans have been altered, and your husband and other family members may be changing their job arrangements as well. If you were a homemaker, there will likely be a lot of slack to be picked up by the rest of your family. These are big changes to the structure of your family and home life and will be difficult for you as well as your loved ones.
Understand that it’s stressful for the caregiver
It may be difficult to think of this as you deal with adjusting to a life-changing disability. But as much as your husband wants to provide loving care for you at home, it’s stressful to be a caregiver, and that will affect his health and well-being too. A study by The Journal of the American Medical Association found that caregiving spouses experiencing “caregiver strain” had a mortality rate 63% higher than that of non-caregivers.
Try to give back to the caregiver
It’s not easy; we know that, especially when you’re the one dealing with a chronic illness or injury. But remember that for a husband who is your caregiver, it’s also physically and emotionally stressful, and they may be dealing with feelings of loneliness and resentment. He needs support for his own well-being to be able to provide the care that you need. Remember that he made the decision to provide you with loving care at home. You may not be able to go to work, or do chores around the house, but you can listen to his concerns and needs, and understand his feelings.