Caregivers report strains on their marriages

DOWNEY - Eighty percent of baby boomers caring for an aging parent say that it has put a strain on their marriage. This insight is one of many garnered from a new research study conducted by Caring.com to measure the impact of caregiving on spousal relationships.The Caring.com study of baby boomers caring for aging parents uncovered the following: •80% of baby boomers reported strains on their relationships. •46% of baby boomers stated that caregiving damaged their romantic relationships. •25% of divorced baby boomers said caregiving played a major role in their divorce. •Baby boomers who are working full-time, are providing financial assistance to aging parents, and/or have aging parents living with them are at the greatest risk of marital strain. The new insights on how stress affects marriage among caregivers have also been used to develop resources for those caring for an aging parent, including how to detect signs of stress in their marriages, as well as marriage tips to help caregiving couples make it work. The new content is supported by the "marriage doctors," Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz, authors of the award-winning book Golden Anniversaries: The Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage. "Raising children is a challenge, but caring for aging parents can be an even greater challenge," said Dr. Elizabeth Schmitz. "The time spent caring for an aging parent can take a serious toll on the caregiver's relationship with their spouse. By providing relationship tips and pointing out warning signs, Caring.com is helping to nurture caregivers in a meaningful way by helping them keep their relationships strong." Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz have worked with married couples for more than 25 years and have interviewed thousands of couples around the world to discover the secrets of successful marriages and to understand how to keep love alive during challenging times. With Valentine's Day right around the corner, Caring.com is working with the "marriage doctors" to offer helpful tips on how to infuse a little nurturing and romance back into a relationship. "Our study of successfully married couples over more than two decades reveals that caring for aging parents is yet another challenge they are capable of dealing with, because the strength of their relationship carries them through the good times and the bad," said Dr. Charles Schmitz. Following are some helpful tips from the "marriage doctors" for coping with the challenges of caring for aging parents while maintaining and strengthening your marriage: •Talk openly with each other about feelings, emotions, and stresses as they relate to your care of aging parents. •Make a concerted effort every day to keep the flame of your love affair with each other alive. •Approach all financial challenges with teamwork and open communication. •Don't blame each other when things get tough, since casting blame never solved a problem. •Don't wallow in self-pity; it's a wasted emotion. •Enhance your love relationship by providing each other occasional time for privacy and solitude. Remember that the simple things matter in marriage, and they need to be practiced each day. "The relationship between husband and wife trumps everything else. If they continue to strengthen their relationship with each other, their marriage will survive the enormous challenges associated with caring for aging parents," said Dr. Charles Schmitz. Caregivers can find marriage tips, information on how stress affects marriage, or to chat with other caregivers about their caregiving journey on Caring.com. ********** Published: February 6, 2009 - Volume 7 - Issue 42