​Living with Your Partner/Caregiver During Covid

Posted by Zack Collie in Life After Paralysis on December 14, 2020 # COVID-19, Caregiving

By guest blogger Zack Collie

My partner and I have been living together on our own for almost two years. She is my fiancé and also my primary caregiver since covid started. Before covid, I had caregivers coming a few days a week to help with my care, but because of covid I stopped having caregivers come into our home. Having your partner or significant other be both caregiver and lover can be a slippery slope. I know many friends with a spinal cord injury (SCI), and their girlfriend or wife is their primary caregiver, and their lives are great. However, I also know others in the same situation, and mixing a relationship and caregiving ruined the connection. I think this is an important topic to talk about because covid has put a lot of stress on relationships SCI related or not.Zack and fiancé

I love living with my fiancé and being independent. We get along very well for the most part. However, since the lockdowns began and having to stay inside a lot more, we started to butt heads with each other. Being together for long periods of time without any breaks from each other started to cause tension and frustrations in our relationship. We started arguing a lot more and had shorter patience with each other. It got so bad that we began to second guess our relationship and wonder if this was the right situation for both of us. She was experiencing caregiver burnout, and I still needed a caregiver. Thankfully, I live close to my parents, and after talking with my fiancé, we asked if my mom would be able to help out a few days a week.

Communication is such an essential aspect of having a successful relationship. We realized that we were both on different pages and weren't communicating with each other appropriately. After we talked about our concerns and what we both wanted, it was like a weight was lifted off our shoulders. Another thing we decided to do to help our relationship and prevent my fiancé from experiencing caregiver burnout is giving her a weekend break at least once a month. Once a month, I will stay at my parent’s house and give her the weekend off. I get to stay with my family, and they help with my care for the weekend. My fiancé gets the weekend to herself, and she can stay at our apartment by herself and enjoy a quiet house or go out and visit her family for the weekend. After we started doing this, our relationship got a lot healthier. My partner and I realized how important it is to take a break from each other and be okay with having time apart. Since making these changes, our relationship has gotten better, and we are much happier.

I wanted to share my personal experience with this issue in the hope that other people out there struggling will read this and benefit from my blog. Having a relationship with a person who has a SCI is not easy, and communicating with your partner can be the difference between continuing the relationship or ending it.

Zack Collie is living with quadriplegia and was paralyzed in 2010 diving under a wave at Newport Beach breaking his C-4 vertebrae. Zack started a YouTube channel to spread awareness about spinal cord injuries and his life living as one. His mother, Amber Collie, is also a regular blogger for the Reeve Foundation.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.