It’s tough to keep a marriage healthy in the midst of a busy life. As parenthood becomes increasingly stressful, marriages tend to be pushed aside. There are a million things to think about, and there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to handle everything.
If you are parents of a child with special needs, you have even more stressors. As an early childhood teacher, I can only imagine how everyday tasks are adapted. You put a lot of time and energy into your child to ensure they are healthy, happy, and successful. I know you experience many rewarding moments as well, but one struggle through this experience has to be finding enough time for your marriage. So, to help you through this difficult season, here are six marriage tips for those who have children with special needs.
Let Other People In
Let other people help you. Taking some of the stress off of yourselves and allowing others to help you with chores, errands, or even with your child will be such a relief. When you aren’t burdened with so many To-Do’s, you and your spouse will be calmer and can enjoy each other. On the other hand, if you are trying to do everything yourselves, it is possible you will get burnt out and take out your frustration on each other. Do yourselves and your marriage a favor by accepting help from others.
Go On Dates
I know this is easier said than done, but it is so crucial. I can imagine how hard it would be to want to leave your specials needs child alone with a babysitter. But it will do your marriage wonders if you are able to spend some quality alone time together. If you live close to family, ask one of them to babysit rather than someone less familiar. If you have never left your child alone with someone else, than introduce the concept slowly.
You can start by inviting them over and spending time together. Then you can progress into doing chores away from the child while he/she is playing with that adult. Finally, you can move onto leaving the child for a short amount of time. Before you know it, you and your spouse will be able to enjoy dates together. They might be short and they might not end they way you want them to, but dates will strengthen your marriage.
Talk About Other Things
As parents of special needs children, you are probably doing a lot of talking, planning, and organizing with your spouse to make sure things run smoothly. This is good and very important. However, you also need to be able to talk about other things as well. So when you do go on those dates, for example, make it a rule that you do not talk about the kids. Enjoy each other and ask each other questions about other parts of life. Date like you did before your children came.
One of the most common marriage tips is to communicate with each other. The reason why everyone hears this marriage advice is because people do not do this well. It is easy to be caught up and forget to communicate with each other. But communication is vital if you want things to run smoothly and to avoid frustration with each other. Although this is not always true, it is very likely that one of you spends more time with your child with special needs than the other. If this is the case, it is wise to make sure all details, issues, information, etc. is shared with each other. Again, not having sufficient communication is only going to result in disagreements.
Have A Support Group
Some cities have support groups for parents with children of certain disabilities. Find out if there is one in your area and join it. You can either go together with your spouse or take turns going so that one of you can stay with your child. Support groups are helpful because you hear encouragement from others who are going through the same struggles you are. It’s refreshing to hear that you are doing things right and you are good parents. In addition, you can gain new ideas of tips and tricks that may work in your family. As awkward as they may seem at first, they can really be beneficial.
Give Each Other Grace
Things are not going to be perfect no matter how much you prepare. Take a deep breath and know that you are doing a good job. It is incredibly difficult to be in your shoes and you need to understand that everything will be okay if things do not go according to plan. Give each other grace in knowing that both of you will make mistakes at times. Remember that you are a team and can manage everything together. If one of you needs a break, the other can and should be there for you.
I sincerely hope these six marriage tips are helpful to those of you who have children with special needs. Your child needs both of you to prepare him/her for the world, but you cannot do that effectively if you are not working together in a healthy marriage. Do your best to incorporate some of these tips and know that you are doing an amazing job.