If you’re in a successful, long-term relationship, you know that it requires commitment, compromise, and sacrifice. The happiest relationships are those where both parties selflessly take care of each other. This balance shifts, however, if the person you love experiences a serious health concern. And this shift can have a devastating impact on the dynamics of your relationship if you’re not careful, as you find yourself in the role of caring for your partner.
Naturally, you want to do everything you can for your loved one. However, it’s important to ensure you’re not losing your romantic connection in the process. Trying to parent your partner can lead to resentment – for both of you. To maintain healthy boundaries, keep the following in mind:
- Be intentional in creating opportunities to focus on your relationship apart from the illness or injury. Continue to engage in the activities and conversations you enjoyed together before the health issue arose, modifying as needed.
- Express your love for your partner in ways that have nothing to do with the care you’re providing. Write love letters, provide small, thoughtful gifts, tell the person how much you appreciate specific qualities you notice in them.
- Have an open, honest discussion about how the health changes are affecting you. Brainstorm ways to find a new normal that will be fulfilling for both of you, setting new, attainable goals and dreams together.
- Empower your partner to remain as independent as possible. While you certainly have the best of intentions in wanting to help, it’s easy to cross the line into causing harm to the person’s self-esteem. Allow extra time, provide adaptive tools, and step back whenever you can to allow the person to do whatever they can for themselves.
If all of this seems easier said than done, there are some specific steps you can take to ensure you’re maintaining appropriate boundaries in your role as caregiver for your partner:
- Place some favorite photos or memorabilia from past vacations you’ve taken together in locations where you’ll see them often, to remind yourself of the good times you’ve shared.
- Hold hands, offer spontaneous hugs, give a back rub or shoulder massage, etc. to stay in close physical contact outside of touch that is a necessary component of care.
- Keep an active social network, both as a couple and individually. The activities you engage in with friends and family may need to be modified, but should never be eliminated altogether.
- Work on resolving any conflicts in a healthy way, bringing in a professional counselor for help if needed.
An at-home caregiver is a perfect way to ensure your partner has all of the help and support needed, allowing you to focus on spending quality time together as a couple. Contact Amy’s Helping Hands, the leading provider of home care in Windsor, Ontario, at 519-915-4370 to learn more about how we can help.