Not long ago, a dear lady who emailed me shared a difficult situation: her mother was ill and needed extensive care, which she felt obligated to provide - to the extent of neglecting her husband and children, as she described. Whatever she would do, she fet, she would be torn apart.
Incidentally, this lady had siblings who didn't quite pull their share in taking care of their mother. In such cases, splitting the responsibility might provide a solution. However, some of us (like me) have no brothers or sisters to "fill in" for them. Some of us live much closer to our aging parents or grandparents, and so brothers or sisters who live far away naturally assume it's easier for us to take up the challenge.
It is said in the book of Genesis, "a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh". Marriage is always an enormous adjustment to make, in this way as well as others. Only yesterday, your parents and siblings were your family, and in your humble, loving heart you tried to put them first; suddenly, your husband becomes your first priority, and you must now put him first! How does one accomplish this, without hampering your own family, and without hurting our parents, which we all of course still love and respect?
While the home of our parents ceases to be the main axis after we get married, our parents still deserve the utmost respect and attention. Helping one's aging parents is honorable. However, it must be clear that our husband and children are our first priority - even though it might not be easy. I have seen families where this gentle balance was not maintained, and it had devastating consequences on marriages - new, and even some years down the road.
I remember there was one time, in the second month of my marriage, when my Mom asked me to clean her windows - something I used to always do during spring. I would gladly do it now, too - but I was already newly pregnant and tired, and had our windows to clean. This meant Mom's windows had to wait... did I feel guilty? Yes, a bit. I know it's a very trivial example. Some people feel literally torn apart between two families who both seem to need them desperately.
Then, there's also the matter of frictions between in-laws. If you speak Russian, no doubt you've heard countless jokes about husband and mother-in-law who can't stand each other. I suspect this is a largely cultural phenomenon, because of how common it is (or at least was) in Russia to continue living with parents after marriage. Fortunately for our family, so far there haven't been any negative feelings between me and my in-laws, or my husband and my mother.
So, clearly, there isn't always an obvious solution, and each new family must find its balance. I'm not sure what life will hold for us some years down the road, but I do hope everyone will feel they are treated fairly, with love, respect, and care.