Home > Uncategorized > How to Stay Married When You’re Stuck Between Needy Teens and Aging Parents

When my father fell ill, these three tools helped sustain my faith—and my marriage.

Moments before I started speaking to a mom’s group at a church, my cell phone rang. It was my cousin informing me that my father was heading into surgery after an accident. The subsequent 45 minutes were a blur. After my talk, I raced home, packed a suitcase, and drove five hours straight to the hospital in New Jersey.

My dad had fallen and shattered his femur. While in recovery, he went into sepsis. The doctor told me that, given his age and pre-existing conditions, he might not survive. Although he did make it through, he never fully recovered. Thus began my immersion into adult caregiving. My sister and I teamed up to coordinate his care, pay his bills, keep his house running, and provide the encouragement he needed to get through physical therapy. He was adamant about finishing out his life in the place he had called home for the last 50 years, so after four months of therapy, I bundled his frail frame into my car and helped him fulfill his wish.

His sudden and unexpected transition from independent to dependent affected every aspect of our family’s life for the next year. I struggled to balance work and parenting with regular trips to New Jersey. Meanwhile, my husband was attending grad school, teaching during the week, and leading worship on weekends. We didn’t see much of each other and when we did, we were always exhausted and one sloppy comment away from a fight. We desperately needed to connect, but there was little time or energy for in-depth conversations and sexual intimacy.

According to sociologists, this scenario is increasingly common for married couples in the Boomer or Buster Generations (born between 1945 and 1980). Because the average age for marriage has been slowly inching upward (27 …

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