My husband and I recently celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. I feel like this is a huge accomplishment because there were definitely times I wasn’t sure we would make it. Raising a child with special healthcare needs is a tremendous strain on the entire family, and put an incredible amount of stress on our relationship. Instead of supporting each other, we were taking our anger and frustration out on each other. I was very unhappy, and contemplated whether or not we would be better off apart.
Our son Michael was chronically ill as an infant, and the doctors didn’t expect him to live past his second birthday. I had read a book about couples who lose a child, and it said that 75% of them end up divorcing. I was convinced that in addition to all of the changes and disruptions in life that we had already experienced with the birth of our son, a divorce was looking more and more inevitable.
I tend to be a worrier; and the sleep deprivation and emotional roller coaster we were on had taken its toll. My husband is an optimist. I started noticing that every morning he was leaving change on my dresser. In addition to being an optimist, he is a bit disorganized, and is always leaving his things lying around the bedroom. At first I didn’t think anything of it, but finally I realized that he was putting a single quarter on my dresser every morning. Finally I said, “What’s with the quarters?”
He said, “It’s for the quarter that make it.” Instead of assuming we would be in the 75% that divorce, he knew we would be in the 25% that make it.
I now know that marital strain is a normal part of raising a child with special needs. It is only natural to take some of your frustration out on the only other person who knows exactly what you are going through. We learned different ways to cope with our stress, and tried to give each other room to deal with the situation in our own ways. I also learned that when you are in the midst of a crisis, it is no time to make life-changing decisions. I am so grateful that we stuck with it. Michael is a happy, thriving 22 year old, and our marriage is stronger and better than ever because of the challenges we overcame. I am looking forward to the next 25 years!
~Submitted by Jane Pilditch