I’ve met many families in my path who have children with special needs. Many of the families that I’ve come to know, the parents end up divorced or separated. Then there are the ones who have more than one child who has special needs and they somehow end up stronger and better than where they came from before having these children.
How is this possible?
Many days as I take care of my children by myself, I do feel as if I’m at it alone. It’s selfish thinking of me really, I know my husband is just working but the weeks go so slowly until he can have the day off for me to at least get some time for me. On those days off, if he should happen to have plans, God forbid, (depending on the time of the month for me) I absolutely hate him. Seriously, there are days when I do feel as if “not being” together is the only answer. But I’m an overthinker.
It’s not always bad, mostly good.
Here are some suggestions on how to take care of your marriage when you have a child with special needs
- Be in it together. A couple needs to be a team There are and will be many challenges that come with raising a special-needs child. Most times, the challenges are a blessing if the couple takes on the challenge together. Never stop communicating!
- Make time for each other. Find ways to say “I love you”. Whether it’s a quick text to check-in, ask them if they need anything while you’re at the store, or surprising them at work with lunch. It doesn’t have to take a lot of effort, just thoughtfulness. I know this sounds impossible at times but special needs parenting or not, so many of us don’t do this. A simple thing could be cleaning out a room together.
- Laugh at the frustrations. Sometimes we struggle because of the intense love we have for our children. It becomes complicated with frustration, exhaustion, irritation, resentment over the care that is required for him and I still struggle with this too cause knowing me having the “I’m right” attitude, it never ends well. My son has these funny sayings, sayings that sometimes have absolutely no meaning but we laugh each time he says them. Of course, in the heat of the moment, my husband or I will say these sayings, laugh immediately and get back on track on how to start over. Acknowledge your partner’s frustrations.
- Get respite care. It is so essential that you take advantage of the “not so often” time for yourself. Trust me when I say when I first got respite care, I was nervous and hardly ever used it. No one will ever be able to take care of or understand my child like me. Until I did, it was only for a few hours so my husband and I could go grocery shopping. I was nervous the entire time thinking about my son, I was a wreck. When we got home, I couldn’t help but think about how nice it felt to have an adult conversation at the grocery store. Yes, the grocery store! So do date nights, take a short road trip together, and again, make time for one another.
- You’re not the only couple going through this. That’s right, you’re not alone. Many couples go through tough times…even without a child with special needs. It’s okay to do things differently, doing it differently some times open one’s perspective to your child’s needs. Sometimes their way is the right way (ugh), even when it’s a hard one to swallow. Respect and appreciate their differences as they do for you. Remember to breath.
For special-needs parenting, our daily lives more than aren’t ever difficult. I remember the many years we couldn’t visit a restaurant with our children. There will be things that come about your path that you will find difficult to deal with, but somehow you always make it through. The difficult times does not mean you’re destined for divorce. My husband and I work really hard on keeping it together. It’s not butterflies and rainbows all the time, but for the most part following the above has helped us get through the patches.
Well, as I always say, it’s just us on this unusual path together!