19 Years And Counting
Any couple that has a child who is ill will have added stress to their relationship. I'm not talking about a child who has a cold or the flu but one with life threatening or long term illnesses. The focus of every conversation, every family get together, every phone call typically ends up being about the illness and what is or isn't being done. In most cases, other children in the house get somewhat neglected as their accomplishments and achievements don't seem as important as whats going on with the sick child.
Its very easy for a couple to blame themselves or their spouse for the child being ill even though we all know that its not anyones fault. We become distant, maybe make some new friends, share our story looking for understanding, compassion, maybe a kind word that at home just doesn't seem to happen anymore. Along with the stress of illness comes the financial stress of doctor and hospital bills, therapy, medications, and perhaps specialized care. No matter how much money you make, its never enough.
Now this is only my opinion but when you have a child with Autism all of these things are really amplified. I can't really speak for other parents but I will say that having a child with health issues and autism has put a lot of added stress into our marriage. As amazing as Aidan is, he is a handful. He doesn't know fear as other kids do. He is a ball of energy from early am till he is in bed with virtually no down time. He is a runner, he climbs, he needs to be doing something all the time and he is not happy doing it alone. He is not toilet trained yet. He typically has to be fed instead of him feeding himself. Medication for his seizures is every 12 hours and before bedtime something for his stomach so he can have regular bowel movements. He's mischievous. He is also one of the 3 greatest things to ever happen to us. His brothers are the other 2.
Now, over a period of time and troubles, it is very easy to be neglectful of your other half, easy to need them to give you a break and to feel as if your the one doing it all, dealing with it all and feeling very alone. Easy for depression to set in and self pity. Every time you turn around your thinking "why is it my turn again?" Sometimes you can't help think your in a competition for some alone time. Having said all this, tomorrow will be 19 years that we are married and we are renewing our Vows. Hopefully the next 19 years will be a bit smoother, a bit more fun, a bit less stressful, and maybe we will just be a bit more understanding of each other.