The idea of moving your aging parents in with you is complicated and if you're facing this possibility AND you're in a relationship, this can up the ante of complications.
A few weeks ago, I was featured in the Chicago Tribune in an article that had to do with how to go about making the decision to move your aging parents in with you! In today’s episode, I take a deeper dive into what to do if you and your partner don’t agree on moving your aging parents in with you!
Today, I wanted to dive a little deeper and talk about what to do if you and your partner don’t agree on moving your aging parents in with you!
You and your partner were raised differently. You had different parents, different family structures, different family systems, and different roles and values! Your relationship with your aging parents is unique and your partner’s relationship with their aging parents is unique as well. So naturally, you and your partner are bound to disagree! It’s expected that you'll ll have different views on caregiving and have different perspectives on your roles in the family and what you value!
So if you discover that you and your partner don't agree during this process, it may help to try these 6 strategies:
1. Take a step back and try to see your partner's perspective.
Put yourself in your partner's shoes and ask your partner to describe their perspective, or their experience, and when they do, really listen and try to see the truth in it.
2. Validate what you can.
After you've heard your partner out, validate what you can, then share your perspective and ask your partner to try to see things from your perspective as well. Your partner will be more likely to hear you out if YOU take the time to hear them out first. I imagine you might be saying, “ugh, I’m tired of being the one who bends first! My response to this is yes, “it sucks to sometimes be the one to initiate the process of moving toward your partner with an open heart, especially when you’re angry or hurt” But, I’ll ask you, “do you want to be right, or do you want to be effective in moving toward a healthy relationship?” Somebody has to take the first step and sometimes that somebody will have to be you.
3. Talk about Your Boundaries!
Be honest with your partner about your boundaries with caring for aging parents. What are you ok with, and what are you NOT ok with? Ask your partner to be open with you about their boundaries as well. Do you have boundaries around the kind of care you can give? Like are you ok taking your father in law to the doctor, but not ok helping him in the bathroom? Then do your best to respect your own boundaries and communicate them. And then learn about your partner’s boundaries. Being clear on boundaries will help prevent burnout down the road.
Since we’re talking about boundaries, it's really important to honor each other's boundaries in caregiving and in your relationship. One tip, as you get more familiar with the caregiving process, your boundaries may change and so might your partner’s. It can be helpful to start the caregiving journey with this in mind and staying open with one another so you can talk about your boundaries as things evolve and change. This is not a one and done conversation. This should be an ongoing conversation. Being clear and open about your own needs and boundaries will preserve your relationship and help to prevent burnout in caring for aging parents.
4. Search for compromise
Give where you can and ask your partner to do the same. Here’s an example: Maybe you’re not ok with your aging parents in laws living with you for the rest of their lives, but maybe you’re ok having them live with you temporarily while your partner helps them to find other living options.
5. Be on the same team.
You won’t get much accomplished or have much peace if you and your partner are at opposite corners of the boxing ring with fists up and ready to fight. See this as a challenge, or transition, for the two of you to work on together. This is an emotional time. You need each other's support. The more you can be on the same team, the easier this caregiving-thing is gonna be! You know stronger together!
6. A little appreciation goes a long way.
A recent study showed that when a caregiver receives appreciation, it lowers their level of stress and burnout! So, express appreciation for your partner for big and little things. If YOU need appreciation, be clear with your partner that this is what you need. Don't expect your partner to read your mind.
So there you have it! 6 Tips on what to do if you and your partner don’t agree on moving your aging parents in with you!
And, Remember...If you’re caring for aging parents, download the Ultimate Caring for Aging Parents Checklist! Download it now!
And don’t forget to share this video with your friends who are caring for their aging parents. Because nobody should have to do this caregiving-thing alone!
Lots of love to you and your family!
Dr. Regina Koepp
PS: Here's a link to the Chicago Tribune article that I was featured in!
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I'm a Stanford trained, Board Certified Clinical Psychologist specializing with older adults and families! I'm an Assistant Professor at Emory University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, and a staff Psychologist working with older adults and families at the Atlanta VA Health Care System. I'm a mom of two little kids and a daughter to aging parents.
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