(Phil and Mari dancing at a wedding, September 2010)
Having mom live with us for the past almost 9 years has taken a toll on my marriage.
I would be lying if I pretended it hasn't and gave only a rosy picture of a happily married couple. It hasn't been easy. It's down right hard on my marriage.
Phil is my rock. I believe he is eligible for sainthood simply for the fact he opened his heart to welcoming my mother into our home when we hadn't been married a year. In fact the first clue that something wasn't right happened on our first anniversary when we told mom we were going out for our anniversary and she became upset that she was not invited. I remember being completely shocked by her reaction. Zak was home from WSU, for the summer, and was able to calm mom down by inviting her t go out to dinner and a movie with him. This is how the past almost 9 year have gone.
I can literally count on one hand the number of times Phil and I have gone out alone on a date in the last 2 years. We don't go out alone. In the beginning mom would become too upset, so we would take her with us. Looking back I can see that it was the Alzheimer's causing this problem--mom was scared and didn't want to be alone, but also afraid to talk about what was going on with her at that time. After her Alzheimer's diagnosis, we couldn't leave her alone. We had a caregiver, Kurt, coming into the house to take care of mom while we were at work and Kurt was great. In 2008, I spent 10 days in a coma and then a long hospital recovery, and Kurt moved into our home and took care of mom 24/7 for 2 months. He was an answer to prayer. In November 2010, we bought a new home in Seattle and moved too far away for Kurt to commute to by bus and we had to say goodbye. We still miss Kurt every day.
Three years ago I retired from my career as a social worker. My initial plan was to study for the LSAT, and hopefully go to law school. That changed when I realized my mom really needed right now and I needed to care for her. I know it was the right decision for mom and me. I don't think it was the right decision for Phil and me.
Phil and I have no privacy. We have no real time alone together at home. Phil comes home from work (he's a rocket scientist) and goes into his home office to check personal email and play online chess. I continue with things in the house and do whatever mom needs done. We eat dinner together, and then mom sits up, in her chair, until Phil gives her a sleeping pill and I get her to bed usually around 9:00PM. Phil and I like to watch 10:00Pm shows and we have a few a week we watch together. This is our time alone, watching television, not talking. Sometimes I feel like we're married singles.
We can't go out because I can't leave mom. We've tried new caretakers to come in at night so we can go out, but they call mid-date to let me know mom is not cooperating and is hysterical thinking I have abandoned her. They call worried that she is going to have a heart attack from anxiety and fear. We come home. Date is over. Phil goes to his office. I sit in the great room with mom. So much for trying to add a spark to our marriage. No spark.
It's taken a toll. I want my marriage back and I know Phil does. I have to learn how to think about Phil first. My marriage comes first. I wasn't able to think this way with mom in our home, but now that she is in the care center I can. It's odd though, because I am currently spending so much time at the hospital/care center with mom that I come home exhausted and too tired to talk to Phil I literally come home, put on a flannel nightgown (FYI, Phil hates flannel nightgowns.) and curl up on the couch with my laptop. Phil is in his office when I come home. We don't communicate.
When we have the opportunity to be alone, such as last month when Phil took me to see Eric Clapton for my birthday, we have so much fun. We talk. We laugh. We have a lot of PDA's. I love my husband so much and I want to be that way all the time. Right now, we've simply grown so used to the other way, we don't see the forest through the trees. We don't see that we need to redo our home life and learn to enjoy each other at home just like we do out alone on the town.
Every Christmas and birthday Phil gifts we with beautiful items from Victoria's Secret. I must have 6 little outfits in my drawer that I have never put on for him. I think it's time to break open the drawer and model an outfit.
DIY. I don't want to ignite my marriage alone, but together we can bring the fun, the adventure, the passion back to life.
Having mom live with us has taken a toll on my marriage, but we want it back and will get it back where it should be.