Overcoming Caregiver Resentment When Providing Care for a Spouse
You both promised to look after each other through better or worse, in sickness and in health. When these cherished sentiments are first spoken on your wedding day, it’s hard to imagine how it will feel to actually live them out. It may come as a surprise to you that anger, frustration, and resentment can go hand-in-hand with fulfilling your vows when caregiving for your spouse.
How Can I Resent Caring for the Person I Love the Most?
In short, it is overwhelming, both emotionally and physically, to care for someone you love. You may feel:
Irritated or angry for inexplicable reasons
Fearful regarding your spouse’s prognosis
Stretched too thin
Unappreciated and taken for granted
Frustrated from too little time for self-care
All of these feelings are valid and perfectly normal, even if unexpected – and there are actions you can take to overcome them while strengthening your relationship with your spouse.
How to Overcome Spousal Caregiving Resentment
Face your feelings. You might be attempting to cover up how you feel to keep the peace, but it’s important to find a safe space to vent. Caregiving is hard on many levels, and having a strong network of support is essential. Talk regularly with a trusted friend or family member, spiritual guide, or therapist.
Set and maintain boundaries. Remind yourself that you are human, and you cannot (and shouldn’t try to) do it all. Setting an unattainable bar for yourself as a caregiver will quickly result in burnout, depression, and a reduced quality of care for your spouse. Determine practical expectations that are in line with your abilities and strengths, and bring in help for the others.
Explore couple’s therapy. A professional marriage counselor can be helpful to both of you individually and as a couple. You’ll gain the tools you'll need to resolve disputes in a healthy way, to better understand each other’s perspective, to better manage feelings of resentment, and to improve communication. The therapist can also provide you with referrals to other helpful resources as appropriate.
Take care of YOU. If you think of self-care as selfish, think again. Taking care of yourself empowers you to take better care of your spouse. Carve out and prioritize time for pastimes you enjoy, socializing with friends and other family members, and stress-relieving activities: reading, exercise, listening to music, journaling, being in nature.
The Care Company is here to serve as your partner in care to help you restore a healthier life balance and to rediscover the joy of spending quality time with your spouse. Contact us at (416) 422-2273 to ask about our respite care services and to request a complimentary in-home consultation for more information on the many ways we can help. Our services are available in Scarborough, North York, and Toronto in addition to the surrounding communities.