Parenthood is an exhausting responsibility, especially for those with children diagnosed with a disability. Finding time together as a couple can become one of the most difficult tasks when you are the primary care giver of your children with a disability.
If this describes you, then please do not accept defeat. Don’t allow your sole focus to become your child! Your marriage should still be your number one priority when it comes to priorities. This does not mean that you will spend a greater amount of time on your spouse than your children, but it does mean that you will make sure your spouse feels loved daily.
Of course children require a larger amount of our time than do spouses, because they are so dependent. It is completely normal to spend more of your limited time caring for your children than you would your marriage. Many children with disabilities often require even more attention than the average child and this is okay. Give that child all the attention and care they need, but do so ensuring that you’ve kissed, hugged, and said “I love you” to your spouse before you part ways during the hectic day. Often times these simple and quick reminders of love are just enough to keep a marriage strong.
Also, do not forget to take time as husband and wife to go out on weekly dates. Date night should be another priority in your life for the sake of your marriage. If you cannot get out of the house for even a single night during the week, then make an effort to create a date like atmosphere at home when after the kids are put to bed. Try ordering in for just you and your spouse for a late night dinner or pick up a dessert to share in the evening as you enjoy a little movie night together, just the two of you. You as a couple need this time alone, away from the children, to reconnect during the week.
Your child’s disability may create some additional stresses to your daily or weekly life, but do not forget to manage your stress. Remember to take some time for you to recharge and prepare yourself to take on the challenges that come with being the parent of a child with a disability. Feel free to schedule that massage you’ve always wanted, night out with friends, or whatever else might be relaxing for you. You might even try practicing mindfulness the next time you start feeling like your reaching your limit or overwhelmed. It doesn’t require a great deal of time or even your absence, so try living in the present from time to time. What’s happened has happened and why worry about what hasn’t happened yet. You only live once, so try to be present for the moments that count. The stress relief benefits of mindfulness are more than worth your small effort.
The next time you’re feeling stressed you should also pray. Pray for the strength to continue and endure. Pray for the renewed desire to serve your child. All you may need is a little help from above, so don’t forget to ask. God will never give you more than you can handle, so lean on him when you’re feeling like you have nothing left to give. He will bless you for your faith, if you continually do your part.
Don’t forget to pray with your spouse. The benefits of praying as couple can be amazing, if you make it a constant in your life. You should be able to depend on one another, as husband and wife, but always remember that you can depend on divinity.
Ask for help when you need it. I think many of us would be amazed at how willing our friends, family, and neighbors are to help us. People often don’t know what others need from them, so bring your needs to their awareness and make requests as needed. Remember that you can count on your spouse to be there when you need them, so ask if you need their help or a break.
Lastly, thank your spouse when they step in and lend a hand. Your recognition and gratitude may be a great reminder of how important it is and encourage them to repeat the action. They are there to help you and you are there to help them, so remember to celebrate this blessing of marriage.
Doing these things can positively affect your marriage and family, so I encourage you to appropriately prioritize your own list. You can be a great parent and still be a great spouse. It is all determined by where your priorities lie. Find joy in meeting both your spouses and child’s needs. Remember you can do this!
Please watch the following videos and then complete the activity below:
1. Write down one way one thing you plan to do for yourself (to recharge mentally) this week, and then make it happen. Share what you’ve written with your spouse and help make each other’s “me time” happen during the week.
2. Plan out your next date with your spouse. Decide on the activity and/or restaurant together, and then write down the day and time you plan to go out. Make any necessary arrangements in advance, so that it happens.