Even though my daughter with autism is already late into her teens I have only been "married with autism" for seven years. I was a single parent for the first half of her life and have been navigating the world of adding a step-parent to the situation for the second half. I would love to say it has been all sunshine and roses but adding a new person (and subsequent "little people") into a person's life who does not enjoy change is not easy. My husband and I have kept our sanity and our marriage together by doing a few different things: Remembering that we react differently My husband is a "fixer." If I come to him with an issue my daughter is having he immediately goes into solution mode. I'm not always looking for an answer, sometimes I'm just looking for someone to listen to me vent and pour me a glass of wine. Once we were honest with each other about what we needed out of a conversation or a difficult situation things got much easier, we were both less frustrated and he always remembered my favorite wine at the grocery store. Sharing the details: My husband works long hours and I'm at home with the kids 24/7. There are times that we barely cross paths in a day and I can forget to update him on the latest (and sometimes not greatest). I try to give him the short-version of what's happening and ask his opinion instead of going in overdrive and doing it all on my own. Giving each other a break: Parenting in general is stressful but parenting a child with special needs adds a different element to your lifestyle. We are also balancing a blended family so we have to give each other an extra dose of understanding. Before I react to situations I often step back and remember all of the things my husband is dealing with and try to react with some compassion for where he is coming from. This may sound cheesy but, more than once, I have recited silently to myself "everyone deals differently." It helps me refocus and think about his side. Take some time: I will not say "have a date night" or "spend a weekend away" because we all know how difficult it is to find help when you have a special needs child. But I will say, find five minutes, maybe even ten, to be by yourselves or if you can't do that, give your partner a break. Most likely one of you is home 24/7 and the other is working and you both are sinking in the demands of the household. If it's not possible for you to get away together, take a shift and give the other time to read a book in the tub or go to the driving range for an hour. Regrouping, even for a few minutes can make it easier for both of you to manage the kids and appreciate each other.
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