One of the things I have talked about many times on my personal blog, is how special needs parenting can impact the family unit. I think that most people grasp the concept that raising a special needs child is challenging, however, I don't believe people comprehend the enormous amount of stress it entails. This stress can and does affect many aspects of my family life, including my marriage. I thought I would provide some insight as to how the stress of special needs parenting can affect your relationships, especially with your spouse or partner. My wife and I have been together for over a decade and while nothing is ever easy, we enjoy a solid, happy marriage. Although, to be honest, we aren't without our problems. I think that in our case, the big issues revolve around the constant onslaught of stress that comes along with parenting 3 boys with special needs. It's not the kids fault and I want to make that very clear. Having said that, it's so easy to be overwhelmed and beaten down by all the challenges we face with our boys on a daily basis. Frustration is often times my middle name. When everything that needs to be done on a daily basis is always a struggle its really, really easy for me to get frustrated. My wife and I sometimes take our frustrations out on each other. It could be something as simple as asking me a question and I bite her head off. At times she can do the same thing to me. We tend to get short with each other because we do our absolute best not lose our patience with the kids. We both realize that we could handle things better but we're both human and things like this happen from time to time. Here's the reality. Since I've become a stay at home Dad, out of necessity, my wife and I are together, literally 24/7. That can ware on even the strongest of relationships. We offset that by doing our best to get time to ourselves. The truth is that sometimes it's healthy to spend some time apart and we realize this. Unfortunately, we can't always get away because of the whole special needs parenting thing. Even if we can't have time away from the house, we try to give each other alone time. That time alone may come in the form of a nap or walking the dogs. It's not always glamorous but it gets the job done. Not only does the break or time away benefit the person getting away but whoever is left with the boys gains some perspective. Sometimes you don't realize how much your spouse or partner contributes to the work load until that contribution stops, even temporarily. As I said before, this is actually a great way to gain perspective and better appreciate your better half. We almost never get to go out on a date either. However, that doesn't stop us from spending quality time together. Sometimes it's splitting a bag of M&M's and watching some Netflix after the kids are in bed. Other times it's just snuggling on the couch. These times are for us to reconnect after a long stressful day. When it comes down to it, my wife and I are best friends and on a journey that would test even the strongest of marriages. Despite the bumps in the road along the way, we remain committed to ourselves and our family. If I have one piece of advice to offer anyone out there it would probably be this. Never let the stress of everything your going through get between you. You don't always have to agree with each other but you do need to be on the same page. This isn't always easy, especially when it comes to differing opinions on things related to your special needs child. Having said that, remember that your both on the same team and want the same thing. I suppose that was more than one piece of advice. Well, the more the merrier, right? I think in the end that's how my wife and I have survived for so long when so many other marriages end in divorce. I can't imagine taking this journey with anyone else. Do you have any advice to share? Perhaps some tips you have learned to keep your marriage going strong?
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