Understanding and Overcoming Spousal Caregiver Resentment

A woman experiences spousal caregiver resentment when caring for her elderly husband.
Learn how to avoid spousal caregiver resentment when caring for an aging partner.

You both promised to care for one another through better or worse, in sickness as well as in health. When these cherished sentiments are first spoken on your wedding day, it’s difficult to imagine how it will feel to actually live them out. It might come as a shock to you that frustration, anger, 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 a nutshell, it’s overwhelming, both physically and emotionally, to care for someone you love. You may feel:

  • Stretched too thin
  • Unappreciated and taken for granted
  • Irritated or angry for inexplicable reasons
  • Frustrated from too little time for self-care
  • Frightened regarding your spouse’s prognosis

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 Conquer Spousal Caregiver Resentment

Face your emotions. You may 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 identifying a strong network of support is vital. Speak regularly with a trusted friend or family member, counselor, or spiritual guide.

Set and maintain boundaries. Remind yourself that you are human, and you cannot (and shouldn’t attempt to) do everything. Setting an unattainable bar for yourself as a caregiver will quickly result in burnout, depression, and a lower quality of care for your spouse. Identify practical expectations which are consistent with your abilities and strengths, and bring in help for the remainder.

Consider couple’s therapy. A professional marriage counselor can be helpful to both of you individually and as a couple. You will gain the tools you 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 counselor may 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 good care of yourself empowers you to take better care of your spouse. Prioritize and carve out time for pastimes you enjoy, socializing with friends and other family members, and stress-relieving activities like exercise, reading, journaling, listening to music, or being in nature.

Serenity Home Care is here to serve as your partner in care to help you avoid spousal caregiver resentment by restoring a healthy life balance and helping to rediscover the joy of spending quality time with your spouse. Email or call us at 250.590.8098 to ask about our respite care services and to request a free of cost in-home consultation for more information on the many ways we can help. Our services are available in Sidney, Saanich, and Langford together with surrounding communities.