There is no doubt many things take a drastic toll when we come home with a child with special needs. Often times, if they are born sick, we adjust to the hustle of life at the hospital. It becomes our normal routine and one spouse (or both) is working full time. There are thousands of variations of what can happen, it can be a first time pregnancy and you’re thrown into parenthood by becoming a hospital parent like what happened to us. Maybe you have a few little ones at home already when this pregnancy went awry. Some families are raising perfectly healthy kids when one gets a devastating diagnosis. Whatever the case may be, if you are in a happy marriage, that is bound to be put to the test.
Happy marriages take a lot of work these days, period. Add to that the incredible and mounting stress of raising a child with medical worries and it might seem impossible. At first, you manage, you deal and find a way to make things work. Some parents cope best by ignoring what’s going on or hoping it will soon go away. If you have hope that your medical diagnosis will eventually dissapear, great! But for most of us… that won’t soon happen. If you value your marriage, love your spouse and find yourself struggling, read this list.
1. COMMUNICATION is key. (Eye roll) As much as every self help book says, what does that even mean? Really talk about your day. Ask how it was and listen to the details.
2. Make time to discuss doctor’s appointments. One of my biggest struggles is spending three hours dealing with a doctor’s appointment only to come home and say it went “fine.” Take notes on the major points discussed with the doctor and relay that to your husband. Medication changes? Tell them why and how it is supposed to help.
3. Treat each other with respect. A lot of times, one parent is more in charge of medical issues than the other. Not for a lack of love, but it just works out that way. One spouse works full – time, maybe the other part – time or not at all outside the home. Maybe you both work outside the home. Respect what the other does and value it. Every contribution into a home is valuable, no matter what it is.
4. Be organized. Write out a list of tasks and divvy them up. Have formula to make, meds to pick up and dispense, feeding pump to hook up, bedtime routine? Write out a time line of when it all needs to happen and assign them. Go over it together to make sure it works time wise and the other understands that is their responsibility. Honestly, sometimes when one med has to be given every 6 hours and another 1 hour before they eat, another before bed and another right after meals, it can get confusing. It helps keep mom and dad accountable as well.
5. Have patience, both for your spouse and yourself. Emotions run high because there is no preparing for what you are going through. Whether it be cancer, heart disease, a premature baby… I promise you didn’t prepare for it. So be patient. We all have different coping mechanisms. I’m a talker, a big one. The more I talk (and cry) the better I feel. My husband closes up. That sure creates a pickle doesn’t it? Patience, young padawan. Forgive and be understanding, it will truly contribute to a peaceful and happy home.
6. Remember you are a still a couple, it all started with two. If possible, take time to be alone. This might mean having lunch together at the hospital or sitting together in the hallway chatting a few minutes a day. Maybe your circumstances allow you to have date night. Spending time alone is necessary to connect with each other and remember what you are fighting for.
A good, solid marriage takes hard work and dedication. When you go through a difficult medical situation, some would say it takes twice the amount. These are just a few suggestions to help keep your marriage strong through tough times. The time and effort you put into your marriage will always be worth the investment. A strong and united partnership will always make for smoother sailing during rough storms.
Share any points that have worked for you in the past or you plan to put into effect.