Dear Barb – Sandwiched

Dear Barb:

My mother has been struggling with heart failure for years and recently took a turn for the worse. She can’t do much of anything. I am the only one of her children that lives nearby so the responsibility for her care is falling on me. I’m okay with that, but my husband is not supportive. We have two teenage children at home and I’d like him to prepare meals and take care of the household chores while I am caring for my mother, but he doesn’t. When I get home from preparing mom’s dinner, my husband expects me to cook his dinner. If I try to talk to him about helping, he says he works all day and shouldn’t have to come home and make his own dinner! He says since I only work part time I should still be able to do everything, plus take care of my mom. I suggested moving my mom in with us, that way it will be easier for me as I will be able to keep an eye on mom, while doing my chores around the house. My husband will not even consider having my mom moving in, he says we need our space and he’s never really got along that well with mom. My husband is not a bad guy really, but he just likes things the way they are and doesn’t adapt well to change. How can I care for my mom and my family and still maintain a good healthy marriage? Thanks for your help, Kathy.

Hi Kathy:

You are part of the all too common sandwich generation, which basically means sandwiched between caring for aging parents and your own family. The stress of caring for aging or sick parents is difficult and takes a toll on the caregiver and their family. You need a support system, someone you can vent to and share your feelings, and it doesn’t seem your husband is able to provide this for you. Try to find another outlet, perhaps a support group in your area. You can check online or ask your physician about local groups. If possible, bring in some outside help to assist with either the care of your mother, or to help with your own household. Also you can look into employing a service to prepare meals for your family as well as your mother. However, this may not be something you can afford.

With two teenagers at home, you could assign them chores and give them a small allowance. Teens always want money. Your husband needs to move into the twenty-first century, as well as adjusting to the new normal. It would be nice if things always remained as they are, but That’s not realistic. As people get older, things happen and health fails, It’s an unavoidable part of life. Have a family discussion with your husband and children about pitching in and helping. Maybe your husband could cook every other night and your children could do the clean up, that will give you some time to do laundry or other chores. A family discussion is the best place to start. I’m sure you can come to a compromise and work this out. Thanks for your letter Kathy.

Follow Barb on twitter @BarbGod

Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length and to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.