When the spouse is the only caregiver things can spiral downhill in a marriage very quickly. I can not tell you about the number of times I have heard that a marriage fell apart for that reason alone. There are many difficulties that come from being in this situation. Many spouses feel unappreciated, suffer from intimacy issues, develop resentment, and deal with abusive spouses who have misplaced anger issues. It is not a fun place to be for anyone.
“I do not feel appreciated!”
What spouse on earth has not been in that situation? I take the kids to soccer! I cook! I do all the cleaning! That’s great people. Now go on and do it while you work full time and take care of a disabled spouse with little to no help at all. The stresses of being the sole support in every aspect of life can be overwhelming. Too often the caregiver spouse goes unappreciated. Would it kill them to say thank you once in a while? How do you deal with it all day in and day out? Therapy! You definitely need someone outside of the situation that you can safely vent your frustrations to when it’s needed. There are many support groups available online and out in the world where you can meet other spouses in the same situation. You shouldn’t be encouraging your partner to do everything to the best of their ability. You should be demanding that they do it each and every time. You’re a spouse and partner, not a parent.
“Would you want to be intimate if you had to perform all of their personal cares?”
It’s hard to switch from caregiver into the sexy spouse. You have a million things on your mind at all times. You’re worried about skin issues, injuries, and what about autonomic dysreflexia? Who wants that on their plate? Intimacy has suddenly become very frightening. For the spouses who manage to do it all and make that switch seamlessly I commend you. I believe this is an issue that takes a good deal of time to work past. Not everyone will be able to get past it and many marriages will end because of it.
“I am so angry all the time. Why don’t they understand that I can’t do everything on my own? This is too much!”
It really is too much for one person to handle and you need to ask for help either through friends/family or through professional services. You can not be everything to everyone at the same time. What ends up happening when you begin to ignore your own health because your spouse always needs something first? Who will be there to care for your family when you’re sick? You are no good to anyone unless you make yourself a priority as well. You need help, and sometimes you need a little me time and separation from the situation. You need to know your limitations.
“I know it’s not their fault they are always angry, but why do they ALWAYS take it out on me?”
This is simple. You married a jerk. Do they have the right to be angry at the circumstances and situation? Perhaps they do, but they do not have the right to take it out on you. This is another common problem in marriages with a disabled partner. This is not a normal part of being married or disabled. People who were angry and bitter before their injuries do not change. This is not because you’re not doing the best possible job. It’s because you’re married to an abusive unappreciative jerk. You have four options in this situation. 1.) You can let it go and let yourself continuously be abused until you snap. I don’t really recommend that option. 2.) You can have a heart to heart with your spouse and hope the situation changes. 3.) You can demand that they attend therapy to deal with their misplaced emotional issues. 4.) You can divorce them. The choice is completely yours, but why should you tolerate that behavior?
Being a caregiver is hard and being a spouse is hard. Expecting someone to be both and not have it affect your marriage is asking for a Herculean effort. Hiring personal care aides can save you a lot of effort both physically and mentally. Accept help from friends and family whenever possible and remember that they wouldn’t offer if they didn’t mean it. Always make sure that both you and your spouse give each other your best effort on all fronts. Show appreciation by saying thank you. Make sure that you are always a priority along with your spouse and remember that marriage is a team effort. It can be done, but it is not easy.