March 21, 2014
by Casey Truffo, LMFT
Here They Come
So you have moved into a home you love, you’re learning what it’s like to live with the love of your life, and the next thing you know you’re hit with the news that mom or dad (or the in laws) will be moving in! Whether due to financial reasons or health complications, it typically happens in an instant without much time to react. So what do you do?
As Time Goes On
When your parents’ move in because of financial reasons, their stay can feel somewhat rewarding in the beginning. They can babysit the kids when you need a night out or they can help out around the house, taking on some of the chores including cooking meals from time to time. As time goes on however, you and your spouse begin to want your own space again and having your parents around all the time seems to limit your space and privacy as adults.
However, when caring for your parents because they are ill, it can almost seem as if you have adopted another child who must be looked after, which can weigh heavy on a marriage. In any instance, having your parents around all the time can take a toll on your relationship, and if there are not proper steps taken, you could risk damaging your marriage.
Tips on Keeping the Love (and Your Sanity) Alive in Your Marriage
- Talk About It – You and your spouse need to be in the habit of constant communication while your parent(s) live with you. You cannot possibly keep the marriage healthy if you are not first and foremost open with one another. Whenever you begin to feel stressed, sad, upset, or out of place it is important to express this to your partner. This way you can both help each other through your feelings.
- Give Mom and Dad Their Own Space – If you have a larger home you can easily create a secluded space for mom and dad. For instance, if you have a finished basement you can set up a mini apartment so that they are not consuming your entire home and have privacy of their own.
- Create a Private Space – Parents moving in unplanned seems like a home invasion. In order for you and your spouse to not feel “trapped” in your own home you need to create a space that is private for just the two of you. Even if this space happens to be your bedroom, you should make it an oasis for which no one else is allowed to go and you can free your mind of the day-to-day stress.
- Ask for Support – If you are really feeling stressed about your parents living in the home (especially when it is the result of a health complication) you should reach out to other members in your family for support. If you have other siblings, you could ask if they might help with the load of responsibilities you have taken on in caring for your parent so that you do not feel so stressed out.
- Get Away – Sometimes the only way to keep the love alive is to isolate yourself from the situation. Try planning a weekend getaway for just the two of you to a destination where you can relax and enjoy each other’s company uninterrupted. Ask supporting family members to help with your parents, if necessary.
- Date Night – Date nights are extremely important to a married couple, especially those in this type of situation. If need be, hire a sitter for your children and ask a family member to watch over your parents and get out for the evening. You would be surprised how something as simple as a dinner for two – out of the house - can make you feel much better about living day-to-day with your parents.
- Little Things Mean a Lot – Last but certainly not least, one of the best ways to keep the flame going in a relationship is to do the little things on the day-to-day basis. Send your spouse a loving text message, place a love note in their jacket pocket, do a chore that is usually theirs, or schedule a surprise visit to their job and take them out for lunch. The simplest things can make your spouse feel special despite the challenges you both face as a couple while having parents live with you.
With marriage comes the thick and thin, and having your parents move in with you is most certainly in the “thick” category. Rather than stress yourself out and damage your marriage, follow some of these tips to keep the love alive. Once mom and dad are back on their feet, you can mark this down as another challenge you conquered together as a team.
If you and your partner or spouse are having difficulty adjusting to having an extended family under one roof, talking to a trained counselor can help. Your family AND marriage are the most important things in your life. Let the caring therapists at the Relationship Center of Orange County help you keep both healthy and happy. Give us a call today at 949-220-3211, or schedule your appointment using our online calendar. You'll be glad you did.