Men as spousal caregivers. The challenges and lack of support for male spousal caregivers.
Men as spousal caregivers.
My personal experience in supporting my wife who has two chronic conditions taught me that the voices of men as spousal caregivers aren’t taken seriously.
Male spousal caregivers like myself are swept aside by society. We are often marginalized and forgotten, we are invisible.
I write about male spousal caregivers because after a decade of supporting my wife in her battle with endometriosis and fibromyalgia I found that our struggles aren’t spoken of.
Women’s health isn’t taken seriously, that’s true, but they spread awareness about their illnesses.
Hidden behind them are caregiving men who are also the victims of their partner’s conditions, but they are even more invisible.
Why men as spousal caregivers don’t speak up?
To some men being a caregiver isn’t a manly job but the truth is that a real man takes care of his woman and is not afraid of a pity talk behind his back.
Some of us are too proud to admit that we need help. As time goes by, we eventually realize that we can’t do it alone.
Asking for help isn’t a weakness, it shows how much you care about your partner’s wellbeing.
Besides, it’s impossible to do everything on your own.
My wife has advanced stage IV deep infiltrating endometriosis and she also has fibromyalgia. I am always there but can only do so much.
I need to prioritize my own health – physical and mental. If I don’t take care of myself, I won’t be able to support my wife, if I overwhelm myself with caregiver burnout.
The lack of support for male spousal caregivers isn’t obvious because no one talks about it.
Worry Head challenges that, raising awareness of forgotten men as spousal caregivers.
The male stereotype.
As a professional caregiver for disabled young adults, I challenged the masculine stereotypes because most caregivers are women.
It comes naturally for them to care, they have a motherly instinct, whereas we are meant to be the protectors.
It was difficult for me to say what I did for work whenever people asked me. I felt ashamed of not having a typical manly job. I thought that men should have manly jobs, women, female ones…
But when my wife was diagnosed with her two chronic conditions, it opened my eyes.
My personal experience has shown me that men as spousal caregivers are very rare, or at least didn’t want to openly show it to the world.
Whenever I attended my wife’s endometriosis group sessions to keep her company, I noticed there were no men present. No brothers, boyfriends, fathers, or husbands were showing support to women in their lives.
It made me feel special, my wife felt special and appreciated by me. It was a nice feeling for both of us, yet pretty upsetting for the other women.
Even at the public endometriosis webinars, I have met only 4 maybe 5 men in a place filled with hundreds of women who suffered from this chronic disease.
I decided to do something about it and spread awareness about male spousal caregivers, for those who is difficult to come out of their shells, and who are afraid to break the male stereotype.
I’m an Alpha male, and yet I find room for things that make me a true man. Manly and tough, but caring and loving.
A real man isn’t afraid to fight for what’s right, he’s not ashamed of his choices, and doesn’t care what haters think of him. Men as spousal caregivers have the same values, they are no different. They are men.
The challenges and lack of support for male spousal caregivers aren’t spoken of and this is why many guys don’t know what to do and which way to turn.
Many men have the capability to be supportive, caring, and loving, but often male caregivers face obstacles based on traditional stereotypes set by society.
Men face a caregiving burden and have weak a support network because they don’t want to admit they need help.
This is why awareness doesn’t expand. Men are less likely to seek out programs that increase their caregiving capabilities to help them cope with their challenges.
There are not only physical but also emotional and financial challenges.
Men are afraid to talk. More of them step into the role of carer and discover the emotional and physical toll it has on them.
This burden of male spousal caregivers isn’t heard of because of the lack of communication on their part, and their male pride.
Still, male spousal caregivers take on tasks that go well beyond their stereotypical male roles.
They have no experience in these roles and get frustrated when cannot solve a problem. Their nature is to fix things but the truth is, we cannot fix our partner’s health, we have to learn to adapt to the new normal.
Husbands in the role…
Husbands are especially challenged. I have learned it personally. This is true when the person you care for is your spouse. We are unpaid caregivers.
My wife was diagnosed with an advanced stage IV deep infiltrating endometriosis and the following year with fibromyalgia disorder.
At first, I was under the impression she would get better, but she’s never going to be. It took me a while to realize that neither endometriosis nor fibromyalgia isn’t curable.
Even though my wife is capable of taking care of herself, sometimes there are days when she can’t, she needs me physically and emotionally.
In return, there is the emotional and physical strain of caring for your spouse.
But let’s not forget about the financial strain too.
Luckily for us, we live in London where National Health Service is given as long as you pay taxes.
But not everyone is this lucky. In other countries, people pay huge medical bills just to get by, let alone having to pay for endometriosis surgery.
Many women need repetitive surgeries, which puts an enormous strain on the relationship.
In addition to paying for the treatment, women can’t work due to the severity of the illness. That makes men as spousal caregivers become sole breadwinners.
This is where it becomes more complicated as whenever my wife has a bad day or a week, I have to prioritize her wellbeing and always stay home to support her.
Not all employers are understanding. It doesn’t make it easy when your ill wife struggles to get out of bed in pain and you have to call work to cancel your shift last minute.
Being a professional caregiver for a disabled boy makes such decisions harder than ever. He relies on you but so does your partner.
To balance being a caregiver and work seems like an impossible task. But it has to be done, decisions have to be made. I always choose my wife’s well-being over my job.
So it’s important to understand that spousal caregiving is totally different than caring for a parent, a friend, or like in my case – a stranger.
So people who are “in my shoes”, have to learn how to adjust to the “new normal.”
She may have no time to write down how she feels, trying to explain her symptoms and pain level over and over. Things may fall on you. It can be overwhelming…
Balancing work and caregiving!
Work hours on top of care hours? How on earth are spousal caregivers marrying them two?
Men and women also often face this challenge, juggling caregiving and work aren’t easy, but it can be done. I would be writing this if it wasn’t possible…
About two-thirds of male spousal caregivers are likely to work full time while caring for the loved one in comparison to 55% of women.
Most employed male spousal caregivers work 40 or more hours a week. I work 50 hours, and when I come home, sometimes I do additional tasks normally I wouldn’t do if my wife wasn’t chronically ill.
Men as spousal caregivers face many of the same challenges as women such as:
But on top of that men are less likely to get the emotional support they need, even when the financial burden puts them under pressure.
So, men as spousal caregivers who work full time eventually get to the point when they ask themselves a question… “how to make money caring for your spouse?”
The answer is in the front of your very eyes, it’s what you are reading right now, it’s what I do… blogging!
If you don’t know how to balance being a caregiver and working full time, start a blogging business!
Since this article isn’t about making money from blogging, I will direct you to one of the best articles I wrote about the subject of blogging, it’s a really good piece of content called: “12 Reasons to start blogging about your caregiving”.
It explains all you need to know about blogging, from making nothing to financial freedom.
But how do you find the time for writing when you have a full-time job?
Stop watching endless telly, or doing things that you don’t really have to do. Sure, family time is important and you can’t sacrifice time spent with your loved ones, but when it comes to your own tv programs… skip them!
Wake up an hour earlier than usual, or go to sleep one hour later. When traveling to work on public transport on your way back, instead of reading a paper or staring at the window, write.
I hope that helps and men as spousal caregivers find something useful in this post.
Hi, I’m Lucjan! The reason why I decided to create this blog was my beautiful wife, who experienced a lot of pain in life, but also the lack of information about endometriosis and fibromyalgia for men…