Are you in emotional turmoil and feeling confused about cheating on a spouse with dementia?
Dementia impacts every aspect of the relationship, but mostly, spouses of dementia patients experience more than they can speak about.
Imagine having the burden of being a primary caregiver for dementia and still having to navigate through the complexities of a marriage with someone who no longer recognizes you.
In this article, we will put on the shoes of a dementia spouse and explore the dynamics of an extra-marital affair when one partner has dementia.
Cheating On Spouse With Dementia (Read this first)
Dementia progression comes with lie changing symptoms that significantly change the dynamics of a committed relationship. Sometimes, memory loss leads the dementia partner to forget about their spouse, which shifts intimacy in a relationship.
While cheating is having an extra relationship off the boundaries of marriage and is a breach of trust, the dynamics of dealing with a dementia spouse leave room for some consideration.
Is It Cheating If Spouse Has Dementia?
When one partner has dementia, this does not change the definition of cheating and it does not revoke the vows made during marriage.
Some would argue that it is the part where you should keep the vow “in sickness and health”.
While all the above is true, we are human, and caring for a dementia spouse is not easy especially when they have on and off of remembering your relationship. It would be easier if the dementia partner forgets about the relationship completely.
It can be quite exhausting to be on a roller coaster of a dementia spouse acting like the partner you once knew and mostly forgetting about you completely. Defining your relationship also seems difficult when all you feel like is a mere caregiver.
The Positive Affair
When the spouse is the primary caregiver of a dementia patient, loneliness can kick in quite hard and Dr. Michael Batshaw, a relationship expert highlights that caregiving is lonely and having an affair can uplift the good partner.
During caregiving, the well-spouse often realizes that their relationship will get worse with dementia symptoms and begin to have thoughts about infidelity.
Affairs have a positive impact on caregiving spouses because they eliminate loneliness and feelings of sadness from the impact of the disease.
Cheating On Spouse with Dementia- Guilt
If a relationship was okay and thriving until dementia kicked in, the meaning of that relationship does not change immediately after diagnosis. For most couples, there is still hope that they can power through dementia.
Unfortunately, dementia symptoms kick in and things change from having a partnership to a caregiving relationship.
Cheating on a spouse with dementia might have a positive impact on the healthy partner like companionship and love but it comes at the cost of guilt- it never feels okay to be with someone else when you still have a spouse with dementia.
Sometimes, the good spouse is often on emotional turmoil and has their heart in two places. on one hand, they want to give care and remain dedicated to their marriage, and live within social expectations.
On the other hand, they need someone to care for them too, and have emotional and intimate needs to be met. This is where guilt kicks in hard. Reconciling an affair and caring for a dementia patient is difficult.
If the good partner does not figure out how to split caregiving with getting their needs met, having a relationship with another person merely becomes moments of guilt; and sometimes, these relationships die of guilt.
Tips That Can Help
If you are in a cheating spouse with dementia situation, here are some tips you can use to make things better:
Define ‘Till death do us part
Religion takes the literal meaning of ‘til death do us part’ quite literally; and while this is okay, this phrase can be redefined depending on the situation. It could also mean the death of one spouse recognizing the meaning of marriage and the death of love in the relationship.
Check In With an Expert
If you are ready to pursue a relationship with your new partner, you can seek expert help to help cope with caregiving and a new relationship.
Also, an expert can guide you on how to overcome the social guilt of seeing someone else while your spouse has dementia.
Re-invent Your Life
Living your life could feel strange if you have been with your spouse for decades. When dementia comes, the feelings of loneliness often lead to feeling lost because you no longer have your partner as well as you use to.
Rediscovering a sense of self is a great way to define your life again. Also, creating new relationships and connections is a good start.
Can you divorce a spouse with dementia?
It is possible to divorce a dementia spouse but the process can be longer because of the complications that come with the symptoms.
Can someone with dementia still love?
Dementia patients have problems communicating love and emotions but they still have the desire to experience love.
How do you deal with a dementia spouse?
The most essential step is to ask for help and lower your expectations on how they express intimacy and care in your marriage.