Caregivers who love their ailing spouse, but cannot attend to their own romantic needs, can feel captive. Should they get, as other inmates do, brief vacations due to good behavior?
Marriage has often been likened to a prison. A major type of relational commitment, marriage indeed limits one’s romantic freedom. The problem of captive caregivers, however, differs from problems in normal marriages. In the former, it is not that one partner cannot fully satisfy all the needs of the other, but that they can barely fulfill any of the other’s needs—and particularly not romantic ones.
Caregivers can deal with these painful circumstances in three main ways: (a) deserting (or divorcing) the sick spouse, (b) denying oneself romantic satisfaction, and (c) using romantic outsourcing. All three options are agonizing.
How much of yourself do you have to give to your partner in support, and what is the true cost if you forget yourself in the process? The fact of...