Which Is Harder on Your Marriage: Parenting or Caregiving?


Which Is Harder on Your Marriage: Parenting or Caregiving?

wedding-rings-378064_640In our Sunday newspaper a few weeks ago, a columnist wrote about the negative impact of having kids on a marriage.

Umph, I thought, what until caregiving enters the equation.

But, who am I to say? I'm not married and I don't have kids.

So, I'd love to know what you think. Cast your vote in our poll and share your comments, below.

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I would echo what LilMagill has written, that basically describes my situation. Parenting our children was a positive experience for the marriage. What my caregiving does is take me away from my home at a time when the nest has recently gone empty. So hubby spends a lot of time alone and in the long run that probably isn't good, but so far, he's very supportive and we have more quality time together and less quantity time.


I definitely think caregiving is harder on my marriage than parenting has been. My husband and I have a blended family so at times parenting was pretty tricky so I guess my statement that caregiving has been harder really pulls into hard focus just how challenging caregiving can be for us. Of course, our caregiving situation is magnified by the fact that both of my caree's are my parents and they live with us in our home. This definitely presents a unique set of circumstances for our family and a creates a specific set of added pressures to a marriage that I have found caregiver's rarely talk about. I am so very thankful that even in our most challenging caregiving moments, my husband is my very best friend and I am fortunate that we always manage to find our way back to one another. I can't imagine being in this without him. That being said, it is very very hard at times. I often feel like I am cheating my husband out of the life we should be having together because I am a caregiver. I often feel that I am cheating him out of time or experiences or moments that we should be spending/doing something together because I am caregiving and I am ALWAYS on call. I often feel guilt that I am robbing him of the hard earned money we could be spending on other things and taking it to care for my caree's. \r\n\r\nWith your children you are preparing them to be independent and as they grow they need you less and less... the ways in which they need you as a parent changes as they become more independent and able to care for themselves, with your caree's your responsibility only increases as their independence lessens and their abilities fail. Although I hate the term \"parenting\" in reference to my caree's, in the context of this discussion it almost seems most appropriate to say that caregiving is kind of like parenting in reverse this regard. I think for me that makes it so much harder. I could set appropriate safety boundaries for our children with my spouse and at least feel that I had some authority to make the decisions I was making because I was their mother.... with caregiving, especially when your caree's are you parents, that is simply not the case and it feels strange making those necessary decisions, especially when your caree's are resistant to the care, support and assistance they need. You suddenly feel like a flailing fish out of water trying to make decisions with your spouse with regard to your home and your caree's....it can feel like you are having to make decisions which you have no authority to make.\r\nTough stuff.


Oh my gosh, parenting was great for my marriage! We just have one child, so that might be a factor, but I feel like having that shared love for the baby made us so much closer and made us function better as partners. As parents we're equals - like Jan said - and I think we both feel a lot of support from each other. And the shared joy in our child is the most wonderful thing! Caregiving is 100% my job and my husband supports me as I support my mom. It's not a problem for us, but it's more likely to take away from my marriage than enhance it in the long run.


Maybe when Jacob is older parenting will be easier than care giving. My wife can tie her own shoes and put her coat on by herself and doesn't spill her breakfast all over the floor...but I guess the emotional stuff is harder with my wife than it is with Jacob. With him, when there are tears, I can hold him and tell him he's okay, and he believes me.\r\n\r\nAt least for now.\r\n\r\nHm...physically, parenting is much harder on me. Emotionally?...the more I think about it, the more I realize it's really difficult emotionally on both fronts because I have to teach my son how to access his feelings and express them appropriately while I'm doing the same thing for myself. I was brought up with the, \"Shut up, or I'll give you something to cry about,\" school of parenting, so I'm learning at the same time I'm teaching.


My first thought is that parenting is a negotiation of equal forces. Two parents bring each of their own baggage to the table and try to blend it to make it work. When you are a caregiver, especially for a relative not your child, then the caregiver is obviously the primary decision-maker for his or her own relative. There is less hee-hawing about control. And hopefully the spouse who is not the primary caregiver supports and respects boundaries. Ahh, the perfect world.