Marriage is not always easy. Creating a healthy marriage and maintaining it is a feat worth accomplishing. Having a child with special needs, or as I prefer to say “special abilities” is just one of any number of things that can cause disruption in a relationship.
As a parent of a child with special abilities, I find it encouraging that statistically, the rate of divorce is only 2% higher for these families. I attribute that to the “survivorship” that develops in us as we face these life challenges. But still, I can’t underemphasize the added strain that can come to a relationship in these situations. Here are some tips that can help keep your marriage healthy.
SUPPORT — Know that you are not alone, and if you are feeling alone, it is probably because you are not plugged into a good support system. There are groups out there for every special ability under the sun. I felt so lost and very alone until I found the Josh Provides Epilepsy Support Group. There, I met other parents who understood what I was going through. It was and is my salvation.
EDUCATION — Keep asking questions! Do your own research; there is a plethora of resources online. I was living in denial for many years, hoping that my son’s Epilepsy would decrease as he got older. I wanted to believe it was only temporary. Part of the education and healing is the acceptance and grieving of what we as a family are dealing with. Don’t avoid it; tackle it! That is what families do that are in tough situations - They stick together and face it head on.
RESPITE — Find someone who can give you a break from time to time. That can either be a friend, family member or an agency that provides these services. Ask another parent that has a child with special abilities if you can trade time; you take their child for a day and they take your child for a day. Sometimes that little break helps you get your bearings again.
COUPLE TIME — Make time on a weekly basis to nurture your relationship. Whether it is a respite situation or not, you can make time for the two of you. Be dedicated about carving time out for you as a couple. If you don’t have that time to connect and communicate, you can’t provide the support and care for your child. You must come first. It’s much like the flight attendants directions, “If traveling with a child with special abilities, put the oxygen mask over you and your spouse’s mouth first, then tend to your child.”
If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to contact me and I will steer you in the right direction.
Freya Robbins, CDFA™ Supreme Court Certified Mediator