Trying to keep things spicy in your marriage is hard enough when you have kids. The sleep deprivation, the never being alone, and looking and feeling run-down, can really take its toll on your marriage. Add in the extra stress of having children with special needs, and you find yourself having to work extra hard to find even five minutes to focus on your husband and yourself. Half of the time, during those five minutes, you end up talking about therapies, meltdowns and so on.
When I wake up, my immediate thought goes to today’s schedule, and what kind of meltdowns or sensory overloads I should expect. You never really know what you are in for until you get them up and going. I’m thinking about, “Is she going to talk today? Will today be the day?” Or, “What if I push him too hard going to therapy, is he going to regress?”
I’m constantly making sure that their routine goes as smoothly as possible, while always second guessing myself. The constant meltdowns, the hitting, and the constant worrying takes it’s toll on a person. By the end of the day, I am emotionally beat, and yet I end the day filling my husband in with their therapy updates.
The next struggle you face when you have children with special needs, is actually finding a sitter capable of dealing with it all. When you are interviewing potential babysitters, you should see the amount of prospects who immediately shut it down when you mention the word “Autism”. They freeze up, get scared, and come up with some lie to get out of having to watch your autistic children. Family would be the ideal option, but if you are like us, then that option is non existent (living 1000 miles away from family makes it a little difficult).
When you finally do find that special someone who is willing and capable enough to babysit for you, it becomes a tear jerking moment. You will find yourself hugging that person and crying on their shoulder, telling them how thankful you are.
So the moment finally comes, where you are going to do it. You are going to go on a date with your husband. You are going to leave your babies in trusted hands, and go to a place where nobody knows you are an autism mom.
You are sitting down for dinner, and find that you don’t have anything to talk about unless it is autism, or therapy related. So you sit in awkward silence, constantly checking your phone because even though you prepped your children the way you always do before a change, you can’t help but feel that anxiety pushing its way to the surface. Eventually you cave and decide to go back home.
The entire ride back, you are crying and apologizing to your husband and to yourself.
“What is wrong with me?”
“What happened to us?”
You start remembering about the article you read, and how people with special needs children have a higher chance for divorce due to the constant stress. You start wondering and fearing that you will be next, so all you can do is cling to his hand and drive home in silence.
Now I need you to realize something:
These emotions you are feeling are all justified.
It is hard to keep your marriage afloat when all your thoughts always seem to go back to the life of an autism mom. It is draining, it is heartbreaking, but it doesn’t have to be the end. What you need know is that he is feeling it too. Everything you are feeling, all your fears, are the same feelings and fears that he has.
You are NOT alone.
When you realize that the man sitting next to you is struggling just as much as you are, it becomes uplifting. NO longer do you have to feel alone. That person who stood at the alter with you, and promised to stay by your side through better or worse, is feeling the same thing you are. Look him in the eye, grab his hand, and tell him you understand. It’s ok to talk about these feelings. In fact, I encourage it. When you are able to talk to each other about being the parents of autistic kids, you become a team. A team who stands by each other, who lifts each other up, and who embraces their life together.
When you finally realize that you are both the parents of children with autism, you no longer feel alone. You feel closer than you have ever felt to each other, and you realize that your love is strong and and able to withstand so much.
Once you open up to each other, it will change everything. You may not be able to go out as much, you may find that much of your conversations revolve around autism or therapies, but you will find that you are more connected than ever before.
Hang in there, mama. Take the time to talk to him. Embrace each other, and everything else will work itself out. This is YOUR marriage, and together you are strong. Together you can conquer anything that might be thrown your way. It won’t be easy, but the best things in life never are; remember that on those days where you feel like giving in. Remember how you felt the day you said “I do,” before kids, before autism were even a factor. If your expecting things to go back to the way they were on that day, you’re setting yourself and your marriage up for failure. Things will never be the same. Things are different, but that doesn’t make your marriage any less! Remember, Different Not Less! That phrase holds more than one meaning in the autism community. It can be applied to every aspect of your life now, so embrace it. Take each day as a new day, love hard, stick together, and always stay true!