Marriage Advice For Special Needs Parents
Needing some marriage advice? I really don’t think many married couples will dispute the fact that Marriage is Hard!
You start adding in children and the shift changes majorly.
If you have a special needs child then I can garentee there will be a major shift in your marriage. That is where if your not mindful it can slipp into constant survival mode.
I definitely know that raising special needs children can take a toll on your marriage.
This is where I want to be transparent as much as possable without it looking like I’m disrespecting my husband. I don’t want to make it look like marriage is impossable if you have a special needs child.
If you are dedicated to making your marriage work, then having a special needs child will only bring you closer.
My hope for you is that after reading this post you will feel like your in good company. You are not alone!
I hope I can bring my own insight on how to make your marriage thrive.
I’ve read so many things on how to survive as a married couple when you are raising a special needs child. I do want to point out that there is nothing wrong with any of those written post.
There are going to be seasons that you are just in “Surviving Mode,” and that is the glue that holds you together.
But I want so much more for my marriage. I want more for your marriage. You don’t always have to be in SURVIVAL MODE!
Without question, there are really extra strains on Special Needs Parents. What I’ve seen most is that some people are quick to walk away from there marriage when life gets messy or tough.
Now I would like to add that if you’re in an abusive relationship then you need to walk away. It is not good for you or your child.
Remember your relationship or marriage is about the two of you as a couple. It’s not about your children.
If you can stick it out together, work through things when times are tough, you will find out on the other end that you have an appreciation for each other.
It’s important to remember that all relationships face hard times.
Marriage Advice From Someone Who Knows
Hey, I’m no GURU on marriage, but I do know a little about being married. I would rather have someone that’s been there, done that, to help me navigate and to give me marriage advice.
My husband and I have been married for 22 years and have 4 children, with 2 of them having special medical needs.
When you are standing in front of friends and family, it’s hard to wrap the mind around what “for better or worse” means.
My husband and I got married in Jamaica and the minister said: “that we are on the mountain top and that there are very few moments in life that this will happen.”
That when we get back home is when we will come down from that mountain top and get back to real life. Wow, I truly have an understanding of what that means now.
There will be fewer mountain tops you share together in marriage. You definitely want to cherish those moments! We spend most of our life in the middle, trying to live life to the fullest, or at least I do believe that’s the goal.
I know what you are thinking, “what are we supposed to do with all those statistics stacked against us?”
I’m here to tell you that if you are going to have a fighting chance then you will need to be even more proactive with how you are spending time together.
Marriage is hard even under the most normal circumstances. You have to understand what your capabilities are and when you need to ask for help. There is absolutely no shame if you need help!
I’m not here to sugar coat things because things can get really tough. Believe me, I’m in those trenches every day. Once you stop spending time together and stop regularly communicating on a daily basis it will become a slippery slope.
My Hard Truths On Marriage
I told you that I wanted to be transparent, so I’m going to be honest here. After 22 years of marriage, I have considered walking away but only because I felt like I was doing all the work 100% of the time.
I felt as though I was raising my children all by myself. The only time my husband was involved, was to drive us to Dr’s appts because we live about 6 hours from the Children’s Hospital the kids Dr’s are at.
I did 100% of all the care, therapy, talked with Dr’s, arranged everything. I also homeschool all 4 kids. No breaks at all! Well If I needed to go to the grocery store he would watch them.
We have 2 older girls, so when they got older I could get them to watch the younger 2 if I needed to run to the store.
I do want to state that yes my husband works, and works very hard. One point he did have 2 jobs. But there have been years where he just had one job and could have been more involved.
This is where becoming resentful can creap in fast! Your tired, worn down, and your mind starts going in directions that it shouldn’t. You start to wonder, if I’m already doing all the work by myself, then what’s the point of staying.
Especially if there is a lot of conflicts. That wasn’t the case for us, it was the other way around. We didn’t commnicate at all. I stayed resentful and he just didn’t talk.
We were miserable!
Something was going to have to give, or I should say “someone was going to have to give in!”
So this is where my survival mode kicked in. I decided that I was going to let go of the resentment, give it to God, and have him work on my heart.
This is the point where survival mode was needed. I love my husband and I knew it would work out.
Heres the thing, I was struggling with both kids diagnosis and complex medical issues. I barely knew what to do. Expecting my husband to know what to do was unfair on my part.
I truly never communicated with him how I was feeling and where I needed help. Just assumed he didn’t care about me. It had nothing to do with the kids. We had drifted apart by the circumstances and never tried to keep that relationship thriving.
So when times got tough it just made things worse.
I really think it’s hard to bounce back after continual setbacks. You put up walls and ignore the real problems. I know we both use that form of defense to keep from dealing with the issues.
It’s very hard to deal with all the setbacks the kids have had. I’m really bad at looking at other marriages and comparing ours. But guess what, we truly don’t know for sure what goes on behind those doors.
All marriages have there ups and downs. When you have special needs children it can make those downs the reason why we lose our focus.
It looks good on the outside but they could also be struggling with the same issues. That’s why I want to share with you what works for us.
I know it’s not going to be a good fit for everyone but it’s what works for us.
Making your marriage a priorty is one area that we constantly have to work on. Our marriage needs to come first and that’s always important to remember.
I know there are times and will be times that one of the children are going to take that priorty. But once that has been addressed we can turn that focus back to us.
If we don’t put back in time, love and care for our marriage, it will become depleted.
Respecting each other and what we add to our marriage is important to recognize. I respect my husband for going out there every day and busting his hump to provide a good life for all of us.
He also values what I do to keep this family going. I’m the gears that keep all this going behind the scenes. Yes, I do most everything for the kids when it comes to school, therapy appts, Dr appts and making sure that their needs are met.
I love my job as a parent and I would like to think I do a good job at it. But he also respects and knows that sometimes I need a break and need to get away sometimes.
Believe me, I’ve had my fair share of “Mommy Burnout” and you can read it right here.
We need to take care of ourselves and Self-Care is important.
Learning how to forgive one another is also extremely important. I really need that grace and so does he. We are human and sometimes we lash out at each other when times are tough. It’s easy to become resentful and store up those thoughts like a bank.
Enjoying time together is another huge part of making things work. Sometimes time is limited and everybody’s situation is different. But I would guess that everyone has at least 30 min out of the day that they can spend together.
Communication is also the top priority. We both can’t read each other’s mind. If you don’t ask then how will he be able to know? That’s always what I’ve told my kids. How do you know how I will react or what I will say if you don’t ask?
We hesitate for fear of rejection, just like our children do. No one likes to be shot down or said no too.
Remember that you are married to each other and not to your children. Your marriage and relationship are built on the 2 of you.
Also, I don’t want to forget to mention the all-important subject of Intimacy. Intimacy looks different in all marriages. It also looks different depending on what stage your children are in.
I can not stress enough that it is vital that you have that time with your spouse. Sometimes it’s just what you need to get over that stressful day or week you have.
I call it the magical glue. It really can change your outlook on things that you can’t control. It’s very therapeutic for both of you. It feels good to be wanted and needed. An excellent mood booster indeed!
In a nutshell, this is some practical advice and it’s not complicated. I would like to say that we have a better understanding of each other. Yes, we are a work in progress and sometimes we fail.
But we forgive and have grace for each other. We are determined to keep this train moving forward.
I also have another post on The Hard Truths Of Parenting Special Needs Children if you would like to read it here.
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Domestic Engineer Mom