When you have kids, especially young ones, it can be a challenge to keep the fires burning bright on the marriage-front. Heck, it can be a challenge to exchange more than a peck on the cheek as you cross paths! Add a special needs child into the mix and more often than not, your marriage takes the back seat.
It’s easy to move spending time with “Daddy” to the bottom of the list. He understands. The kids NEED you. He loves you no matter what, right? Sure he does, but that’s not to say that neglecting upkeep in the marriage department will not eventually lead to resentment, loneliness, increased stress and guilt.
Believe me, I’m not casting stones. This is something that I struggle with, but it’s worth struggling to keep my marriage intact and healthy. Happy parents equal happier children and a more stress-free home environment. Not to mention, YOU and your husband (or significant other) need this adult interaction. We crave affection, the feeling of being taken care of – instead of always being the caregiver. It makes for a healthier you, and your kids (special needs or not) need you to be at your best.
So, how can we balance our kids, our special needs kids, and our marriage successfully?
I’ve found that the hardest part is penciling in the time. Make a point to make time for your husband. Whether its after the kids are in bed, on the rare occasion that you luck into a babysitter or early on a Sunday morning. Make it a point to spend time with your man. Do it often, or as often as you can. He will appreciate the effort and you will appreciate the adult conversation!
Date night. Ah, date night. It’s easier said than done, even in the world of traditional parenting. For us personally, nights are a routine of medications, injections, dialysis set-ups and hook-ups. It’s something that only we are trained to do, it’s something that MUST be done right for the safety of our child – not something we can delegate to a sitter, while we hit the dance floor. So what do we do? We take care of our little man EARLY. Once he’s hooked up and content to read or watch a movie with his grandmother we make a mad dash for the door – for some quality time together. Sure we have cell-phones glued to our hips, but what parent doesn’t?
I’ve also learned to think outside the box concerning date “night.” Why can’t it be date morning or afternoon? Recently, I secured the grandmother again (love her!) for an afternoon of babysitting. Our afternoon schedule is pretty clear as far as medications, etc. so I knew there wouldn’t be much to worry about. I rented a room at a local hotel – complete with jacuzzi tub and Mr. Bubbles. I left the hubby an address on the GPS. You get the picture. Romance is important and it’s not limited to after dark.
The most important things I’ve learned through the daily struggles of balancing my marriage and my special needs child are this: My husband appreciates what I do (or try to do). Even if date night is interrupted to fix a beeping dialysis machine, he appreciates the fact that I made the effort to be on that date in the first place. Start small. As you successfully pull off short dates, you’ll be more comfortable with longer ones.
Remember: it’s important. Our husbands (significant others) are our support. They know our battles and frustrations like no one else. They live them with us. Carving out time for your marriage is a blessing on all sides – for your marriage, your husband, your children…for YOU.