Back problems and sig. other being "#1"
I just swam 1.5 miles yesterday in open water--felt awesome, though I felt my stroke coming apart the last 3/4 mile--I just picked one thing to focus on, as fatigue from the cold (should have worn a wetsuit) was a player in it coming apart.
Anyway, I also suffer from chronic back issues--I have four slipped discs, one of then is badly herniated. I found that by not extending my underwater arm to its max, I felt less strain on my back. I have NO idea if this is good advice or proper, but I can relate to having back pain, even while swimming. I also have to focus on my core being engaged and strong. For whatever reason, slightly holding back on that underwater, forward arm has helped. For what it's worth....
Also, I can relate to your needing to be there first for your wife. I have two children with multiple disabilities, and I have to be there for them first, too. This means I can't work out the way I'd like and/or workouts get cancelled or cut short. It's hard, when you can see yourself improving and then must cut back for a while. So, that being said, you are definitely not alone in those issues.
Swim on--when you can