4 Ways to Strengthen a Marriage While Raising Kids with Disabilities
4 ways to strengthen a marriage while raising kids with disabilities may seem like 3 too many in the middle of a pandemic. Jessica Temple, neuropsychologist and mom to 2 sons with special needs, syas they were a great help to her and her husband this past year.
My husband, Lewis, and I knew that having children would transform our relationship. When our oldest child was diagnosed with autism, our lives became chaotic, straining our relationship. Once COVID hit, we were home 24/7 and stressed beyond belief. The experience put such tension on our relationship, we weren’t sure what to do. But we were committed to one another and our relationship, so we looked for ways to make things work for us amidst the chaos. Our relationship took a turn for the better when we implemented these 4 ways to strengthen a marriage while raising kids with disabilities.
Nurture Your Support Network
Include friends and families, but also support groups, other parents of children with special needs, psychotherapists, and even marriage counselors in your network. Ask for help when you need it. Reach out to them as often as you need to. Having others as a sounding board or to help guide decisions is exceptionally beneficial.
Expectations change when parents raise children with special needs. We get caught up in the fast-paced life and place high expectations on ourselves. This adds to the strain so it’s important for partners to take short breaks. Think about what it was that brought you together. What did you like about them in the beginning and what attracts you to them now. Seek out opportunities in to rediscover those qualities in your partner now to help you recall why you loved them to begin with.
You don’t have to like everything about your spouse. Acknowledging this can relieve some of the burden. Moreover, we all have different ways of completing tasks. That’s fine. Tasks will still get done, perhaps differently, but still completed. Things don’t have to be perfect, even if it may feel that way. Practice forgiving your partner, and try to find humor in everything, even things that drive you mad!
Open Lines of Communication
Communication is key when raising a child with special needs. We can forget to talk to each other, so reach out to your spouse when you’re struggling. Open a dialogue about your wants and needs, both as a spouse and as a parent. Look for ways to support each other. Share your feelings toward the situations. What are you having trouble coping with? What are your frustration points? Discussing them will help you feel understood and to solve problems that arise. Considering ways to divvy up responsibilities will make your arrangement feel more equal.
Steer clear of blaming. Instead, listen to one another with compassion. Notice and compliment what is done well. Remember that you’re on the same parenting team. Put your heads together to break the problem down into smaller pieces to make it more manageable to solve.
Spend Quality Time With One Another
For a healthy relationship, it’s imperative to spend time with each other. Look at your week and see what time you can fit in with your partner, even if you have to schedule it. Activities can be as small as a quick bedtime kiss and a “goodnight.” You can learn something new together, like cooking, or a date night. Or have date night at home. Watch a show, cook dinner together, play a game, read to one another, or do a craft. Enjoy quality time with your partner and laugh together. Be spontaneous with a simple “I love you” text, a special treat, a passing kiss or hug or neck massage. Keep intimacy alive, even though it may look different than before having kids. Intimacy doesn’t have to always mean sex. It can mean snuggling, holding hands, kissing, giving a sweet massage, or buying small gifts.
Times are hard. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel like you and your partner will make it through. By implementing these 4 ways to strengthen a marriage while raising kids with disabilities to tweak your relationship. They can make you feel better as individuals, parents, and partners. Your relationship is worth it!
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Jessica Temple, PsyD, ABPP-CN, is a board-certified adult clinical neuropsychologist. She has two children who have special needs. She and her husband, Lewis, host a podcast called Thriving in The Midst of Chaos, where they talk about all aspects of special needs including getting a diagnosis and treatment, self-care, relationships, transitioning to adulthood, school, and finances. They created Thriving in The Midst of Chaos to offer support to others in the special needs world as well as to provide an easy way to find the most useful resources. They aim to share helpful resources with others, advocate for improvement, change in the special needs world, and offer a different perspective on parenting. To find out more about how Jessica’s work can help you, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or @midstofchaospod on all social media platforms.
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