"Four years ago, my mother, who has dementia, came to live with my wife & I. My wife took on the lion's share of her care since I work during the day. I do my best to give her a few hours of her own every evening but I know how hard she works and how difficult it is to care for my mother. It has unquestioningly taken a toll on our marriage since we rarely, if ever, have any time alone together and when we do, we're so exhausted we immediately fall asleep. We haven't had a holiday during this time either.
I wanted a way to thank my wife. She has uncomplainingly taken on these new responsibilities and although she gets frustrated now and then, she approaches it with a practical and cheerful attitude. I love her for it and owe her a great deal.
Obviously it wouldn't be much of a gift if she still had caregiving to do, so I asked my sister (who lives a 3-hour drive away) to come and take our mother for a few days. I wanted to figure out a way to make my wife feel as if she had been spirited away to a relaxing getaway - but I had to be close enough to still go to work as I couldn't get any more time off (all my vacation time had been used up with caregiving for my mother).
My wife's girlfriends actually came up a fantastic idea. One day I sent my wife off with my sister and mother, under the guise of showing my sister the ropes of what to do. I snuck back into the house with my wife's girlfriends. We cleared out the living room, put up a big canvas tent, and draped it with some sort of fabric. Lots of cushions were placed everywhere plus a couple of super-comfortable chairs (borrowed). The place was totally transformed. You would never have known it was our living room!
Everyone went home, and I went to pick up my wife. I told her I had a surprise for her. She good-naturedly allowed me to blindfold her and I drove her here and there for a good part of an hour, to try to make it seem we were going somewhere other than home. Then I led her (still blindfolded) into the tent in our living room. When I removed the blindfold, she was delighted! For the first time in years, she and I sat down alone together with a glass of good wine and conversation. I told her that I had a surprise for her while I was at work.
I gave her a spa menu for at-home treatments - every day for the 5 days she was free, she could pick any combination of treatments. We had also stocked the place with great books because she loves to read, and a mini-refrigerator with all her favorite snacks and drinks.
She completely transformed in those days. It was good to see her feeling relaxed and carefree again! And it showed me just how important it was to make sure she gets more relaxation time, and we get more time together."
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