According to one 50-year study conducted by the National Institute of Health, couples are more likely to divorce if they have a special needs child and their family is small. In larger families, having a special needs child made them less likely to divorce. This presents compelling evidence that when there are more family members around to help, it’s easier for the family to stick together.
I’m going to be honest and admit my own marriage nearly didn’t survive the first few years after my son’s diagnosis. We learned many lessons the hard way while we adjusted to our new normal.
If you believe your baby’s condition was caused by a preventable doctor’s mistake, check out these resources for caregivers. Keep reading to learn more about how you can take the pressure off of your marriage while you care for a child with special needs.
3 Rules That Can Save Your Marriage
Following these three rules can be a real game-changer for marriages that are on the brink of disaster. You may want to print this article and hang up somewhere your partner will see it.
Don’t Play the Blame Game
When I started to realize something wasn’t quite right with my son’s behavior, I was blamed. The whole family came together to insist that he was fine and that I was imagining things. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, and even my husband stopped just short of accusing me of Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
Eventually, my son’s symptoms became more obvious and difficult to deny. We went to the pediatrician, got referred to a specialist, and got a diagnosis. Instead of wasting time blaming each other, take your concerns about your child straight to the pediatrician.
If we had done this in the first place, it would have taken so much stress off of our marriage. I know how hard it can be to accept that your child might not be “normal,” but it’s important not to take it out on your spouse.
Don’t Let One Person Do All the Work
My son went straight to the back of the long line of children who qualify for respite care. He was with me 24/7 for three years because I didn’t have any help. This would drive any parent to the brink of madness, but when a child has issues that make parenting difficult, it is sheer insanity.
My husband worked long hours. By the time he got home, the last thing he wanted to do was take over childcare duties. Thankfully, he went into counseling and learned how to be a more mature and supportive partner. It is the reason we are still married today.
If all of the work is falling on the shoulders of one parent, it’s time to take a long, hard look at the reasons behind it. These may include:
- Mental illness
Do any of these sound familiar to you? If so, consider going into couples therapy or visit a therapist on your own. If depression or anxiety are keeping you or your partner from fully owning the responsibilities of caretaking, you may want to consider going to a psychiatrist to see if meds can help.
Don’t Forget to Make Time for Yourself
Once you are both on equal footing and the responsibility of caring for your children is being shared, you’ll finally be able to make a little time for yourself. I used to only have room in my life for cooking, cleaning, and caretaking. Now I’ve added yoga and Aqua Zumba to my routine and I’ve never felt better.
Absence really does make the heart fonder. Spend time apart from your partner and family pursuing your own separate interests, and make sure your partner also has time on their own. If you work together as a team, it’ll be easier to enjoy each other and your special needs child.