Wednesday, 9 December 2015

keeping the connection alive

#midlife blog crestingthehill.com.au

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that my mum is staying with us for a month or so after having knee replacement surgery. It has been a steep learning curve having her living in our (previously) empty nest and it has made more of an impact on my relationship with my husband than I would have expected.

Because she is my mother, I am acutely aware of the fact that she is primarily my responsibility and I need to take care of her. My husband has been the back up man for the times I'm at work or needing to go somewhere just to breathe for a while. But I have also noticed how much having an extra person around has eaten into our relationship dynamic.

We are normally quietly content in our little world of the two of us - and my husband is an introvert of the first order. Having a loud, somewhat demanding, chatty mother-in-law around 24/7 has made him pull into his shell more and I can feel the loss of the ease we usually have around each other. I feel like I'm checking that he's okay and that mum's okay and that all my ducks are in a row and meanwhile those little blighters are running off in all directions (or hiding under a rock trying to find some peace and quiet!)

There's a reason why two people stay together. They give each other something nobody else can.

We have to remember to find time for each other that doesn't revolve around my mum being the centre of attention. We need to find those quiet moments just for the two of us to remember that we are in this together. It's easy to lose each other in the hurly burly of each day and I have huge admiration for couples who stick together and support each other through life's trials. 

I remind him that I need space every so often - but not from him! At the end of the day (or at the end of the next few weeks) we will be back to our little world again and if we keep remembering to connect through this messy time then it will be easy to find our rhythm again when life settles back into it's usual routine. 


40 comments:

  1. That my friend is the hardest part of caregiving, in my opinion, the toll it takes on the other relationships in your life. It's hard, but its possible. Luckily for us, mom goes to bed really early and that gives us an hour or two before bed every night. Its funny though, because I am the introvert and that is what drives me batty sometimes is the constant conversation and never being alone. EVER!

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    1. I never thought of myself as an introvert Rena but I definitely lean that way. I've come to appreciate comfortable silence - not the need to fill the air with a constant commentary. Treasure those quiet evening hours - you deserve them!

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  2. Good luck Leanne, anyone who enters the cocoon can disrupt the dynamic of a relationship. We had my father in law with us and he was a pleasure to be with , on the other hand my mother in law drove us batty. But she was very old and could not help herself, so we just had to have lots of patience with her. I love that quote!

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    1. thanks Mary - I know it's not for much longer, but I am amazed at the impact an extra person has on the dynamic - and how much we need to remember not to let that become the norm!

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  3. We moved twice in two years, the child has been struggling academically, and I have done absolutely nothing contained in this post and it shows in my marriage. I don't know where we are headed but I will never make the same mistake again.

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    1. It's so easy to let life and love slip through our fingers Carla - we take stuff for granted and then have to reel it all back in again. I hope you find some level ground again and we'll both be smiling when 2016 comes around!

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  4. This is one of my causes Leanne. Couples need to have quality time away from family and friend otherwise you wake up one day to a stranger. We live downstairs from my in-laws and it was supposed to be temporary however that was 8 years ago. This year we decided to buy our apartment as a get away and to retire to in the future. It was the best decision we made. On the positive side at least you are having time with your Mum even if it gets frustrating. I lost my mum and dad 28 & 33 years ago so its been a long time with out a mum to chat to. I miss that. #waywow

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    1. that is what I remind myself about Sue - I love having my mum around still -it just gets a bit hard when it's all day every day. I think when she's back to her own life again we'll get the balance back!

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  5. I can so relate to this. My husband and I love our evening time together, sitting and talking about our day. Having my mom here has definitely cut into that time. I keep reminding myself "this too shall pass"!

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    1. I am really grateful that I'm only being a carer for a short period of time - my hat is off to the women who are caring for their mothers long term. I think they deserve a medal!

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  6. My mum has been really ill lately and the thought of having her to stay a while crossed my mind. But she is so difficult and my husband so intolerant, I fear I would be the adjudicator full time.

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    1. my husband is pretty tolerant but it does stretch everyone's patience. I just can't wait til we're back to normal. But that being said, sometimes you just have to do the right thing as a daughter (hopefully your mum will improve soon!)

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  7. It's all about the connection. All the best, take care. :)
    Popped over from Elena's #BlogShareLearn linky party. :)
    Hope this weekend treats you kindly. :)

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    1. thanks so so much for stopping by Donna - and for the good wishes - hope your weekend is lovely too :)

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  8. Maybe we should start educating 'moms'. Then remember the lessons ourselves for when the time comes that we may be staying with our kids to be a little more considerate to the needs of those around us. To know that couples need their time alone. To know when to perhaps not say anything.
    I guess a lot of husbands would not do what yours does to help out, so good for him. I hope it all gets better soon Leanne.
    Kathleen

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    1. I've certainly learned a few lessons about tolerance and keeping my mouth shut and I hope I never have to land on my daughter's doorstep for a prolonged convalescence - she'd probably strangle me :)

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  9. Hi Leanne, I can imagine how hard this must be for you and your husband. Both my parents passed long time ago, but my mother long before my father, and I had my father many times over with us, well, not to take care of him physically but emotionally and this was very hard at times. I can imagine you being in the middle of wanting to be there for your mom but also for your husband. I'm sure you will get back in the rhythm of things easily! Hugs!

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    1. Hi Katrin - I'm counting down the days until we have our space back again - not that mum's been all that terrible, just that I really miss the quiet life we share normally. Once Christmas is over I am going to wallow in the peace!

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  10. I hope that you will be able to find a solution that works for all sides. I can imagine how hard this must be for you. :)

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    1. She's moving back home next week Ilka and I'm holding that day as sacred. She will be well and truly self sufficient by then and it will be nice to have our home back to normal again (just in time for Christmas!)

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  11. Yes, this is such a big challenge. Bless your husband! As long as the couple remember their priority is their relationship...
    Carol
    http://carolcassara.com/healthy-low-calorie-meals/

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    1. I think that's the secret Carol - I made him read this post so he knew it wasn't about him being the problem :)

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  12. I understand where you are coming from. I have two toddlers and although it isn't exactly the same as having a visitor stay with you who doesn't live with you - it still dramatically changes the dynamic of your relationship with your spouse. It takes a lot of hard work but is well worth it!

    Oh and btw, Elena told me to say #BlogShareLearn sent me!

    Kimberley from talesfromthecrib.ca

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    1. Thanks Kimberley - it was lovely of you to stop by and I know what toddlers are like when it comes to trying to find some time alone! I used to read about going on regular date nights, but that was only a dream :) At least mum will be going home soon and we'll re-establish ourselves.

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  13. My husband and I just had our third baby. This is the first time that my husband has been home for the birth and this very early stage, so it's been a different dynamic. Finding time for just the two of us to just be, has been a stuggle, for sure, but so important.

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    1. babies always throw a spanner in the works because you can't just put them to one side and expect them to wait. At least I can leave my mum reading a book for a while and have a little peace. One day your nest will be empty again and those babies will be grown and flown - give your new one a cuddle from me xx

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  14. I imagine this has got to be hard on both of you. It's just my husband and I as well, and having someone come stay for a while would be a big change. Just have to remember to make time for each other.

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    1. You get very used to your own space and routines and it makes a noticeable impact when a person who isn't used to that routine moves in. She's getting better at understanding that we don't need to be constantly talking, but I must admit to counting down the days until she goes back to her usual life!

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  15. I so understand Leanne on so many levels. Having kids brought such a change when my hubby and I married. Then when my mom stayed over to help when more babies came was a blessing (and a challenge, sshhhh). We also had my sisters, each separately stay with us with their kids and that was difficult. Now we find ourselves pushing a baby stroller with a grand-kid and a parent in a wheel chair all in the same day - strange predicament sometimes. I so feel your quandary of feeling torn of being emotionally and physically torn between a parent and a sweetheart. You know your parent can be gone at any time, yet strive to strengthen and maintain your marriage. Thank you for bringing this important topic to the table for others to know they are not alone, and for discussion. Keep that gorgeous smile flashing towards your hubby, you're both fabulous!

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    1. Thanks so much for your encouragement Carrie - when you've walked the same path it makes it easier to understand the quandary. I take my hat off to women who care for their parents, or adult children, or grandchildren long term - it is such a challenge to get the balance right!

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  16. Leanne, it seems as your family is rich in love, and strong in character! I can imagine that your lives have been turned upside down. I can empathize. Now that our son is home with us and his mental illnesses have changed our lives too. We cannot leave him alone for long, I drive him where ever he needs to be sometimes 2 or 3 different appointments across town each day. We make sure we spend time with him, check on him, etc. all throughout the day and night. So I understand some of what you are going through. We are so exhausted that it's hard for us to connect with ourselves, let alone each other. It will be better soon, but it is difficult! Thinking of you and hoping that it will all end up well, I'm sure your mom will love being back home with her own things! xxx

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    1. I hold on to the fact that it's short term Nikki - and that she will be well enough not to need us again for a long time. It's those women who care for family with no end in sight that I take my hat off to. A month or so has taken it's toll - goodness knows what years of it do to you and your marriage!

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  17. You are so open with your post, I can however understand how you are both feeling. I recently had to care for my mum ( 9 weeks) but not in my home but my sisters. I have never stayed so long with her before and my poor hubby had never been left alone for so long. Thank you for sharing on #overthemoon

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    1. you do what you have to do at the time Jen but it is so nice when things get back to normal - only two days to go (and counting) until we are home alone again.....until the kids come home for Christmas (can't wait - for both!)

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  18. Caring for aging or recovering parents is hard. It takes so much time. My husband and I take time every day to reconnect, even if only for a short while. On really hard long days, sometimes that just holding hands under the covers as we fall into bed exhausted :-)

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    1. it's so important to hold on tight Mary - mum has moved back to her house and now we're going through the re-adjustment stage - I'll be glad when we're back to normal again!

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  19. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that my mum is staying with us for a month or so after having knee replacement surgery. It has been a steep learning curve having her living in our (previously) empty nest and it has made more of an impact on my relationship with my husband than I would have expected.paper rater

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  20. How have things been lately?? I completely understand how having your mom around would be hard on your relationship with your husband... I hope she is healing well and that you and your husband have been able to find a good balance as a couple in the midst of it!

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