Monday, November 25, 2013

Surviving the Pitfalls of Marriage Part 1

Statistics show that when a special needs child is involved, eighty to ninety percent of marriages end in divorce.  I find these numbers staggering.  I also understand a few of the reasons behind the numbers, so I feel it would be a disservice to write a complete blog on living with a special needs child without at least addressing a few of these pitfalls. 
The differences between Bob and I were always present, but they only became glaringly obvious after Caleb was born.  Within two days of Caleb’s birth, Bob was leaving the hospital every morning in order to return to work.  Part of this was due to his strong work ethic (he has never taken more than a day or two off with each child), but part of it was his way to cope with all that was happening in our lives.  He needed the normalcy and the routine that work provided, while I couldn't imagine leaving the hospital for an hour, much less an entire day.  Throughout all of Caleb's life, he has been present when I needed him, but has never wanted to sit around and discuss at length the emotions and feelings associated with any situation we have faced.  Initially, I resented and even judged him for his “lack of caring.”  I felt I was the better parent because I was the more emotionally connected parent.  Over the years, I have learned that Bob’s way of interacting with the situation, is no better or worse than mine.   He is as much emotionally invested in our lives as I am, but shows it in a very different way.  I have accepted who he is and what he has to offer to our lives.  If I had continued to feel superior,  we wouldn’t have made it through the first year of Caleb’s life for rather than working together, we would have been fighting each other and insulting the way we chose to live out our new lives.  
Although I learned to accept Bob’s way of coping while we were in the hospital,  things got a little more difficult once we were home.  Because I was home all day, most of Caleb's care fell to me.  Caring for a healthy baby, let alone a special needs one, is exhausting, as all new moms know, and my weariness came to a head one night when Bob called home to tell me he would be an hour late.  I had been home, alone with Caleb all day, and I was through.  By the time Bob made it home, I was so angry at him, not only for being late, but also for leaving all of the work to me, that I refused to let him hold Caleb.  One of our few intense fights broke out over this situation.  I was a new mom, overwhelmed with exhaustion and loneliness, and I interpreted his coming home late as a lack of love for me – uncaring and cruel.  I told him that if he didn't care enough to be home on time then he didn't deserve to spend time with Caleb in the evening. 
I am not proud of this episode, but it shows all of the different emotions that became part of the misunderstandings within our marriage.  Many of these issues could have been prevented if I had developed friendships with other stay at home moms.  Then I would have had  someone to call and a listening ear.  But I had just left the workforce and had not made any connections with other moms.  Even in today's world, with the Internet , I feel any mom coming home with a special needs child should have a few other women who have walked similar paths, who she can connect with and call during the hard times.   This struggle with loneliness continued for many years, but gradually I began to  develop close friendships with other moms.  Some are on similar journeys, and some are on very different paths, but they have provided me with a place to turn when life becomes too much.  I believe these friendships have helped me to accept Bob for who he is, rather than to try to mold him into someone who can meet all of my needs.  No one person can ever meet all of our needs, especially when that other person is living through a crisis, and placing that burden upon a marriage is often enough to make the marriage crumble.  

To Be Continued next week.


  1. Your strength and resolve are so very inspiring! I love Mondays....I always look forward to your next post. Thank you friend!!

  2. So glad to give you a reason to look forward to Mondays. Have a great week.