10 Tips for a Strong Marriage for Parents of Autistic Children
Autism can be stressful for all involved, and for parents of an autistic child, it certainly can be a strain on your marriage. The American Psychological Association reports about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the U.S. divorce, and that’s before factoring in the added challenge of having a child on the autism spectrum. But your marriage doesn’t have to be part of those statistics. Incorporating a few small changes into your life might help you and your spouse in a big way. Here are some steps you can take to focus on your relationship while making sure you’re taking care of everyone under one roof.
10. Have Date Nights
You need to take the time to strengthen your bond as a couple. This means taking time for just the two of you. It’s not selfish to opt for time together over time with your children every once in a while, even as parents of a child on the spectrum. Try to get out of the house and away from the kids at least a couple of times a month. Do something together that both of you love, whether it’s going out to eat, going to a movie, or going dancing.
9. Be Partners and Teammates
Remember to work together. After all, you’re teammates in your marriage. If you both neglect to pull your own weight, things can go downhill pretty fast. Having a person to share the load can help give you strength on your bad days, and it allows you to give your partner strength on your better ones. Together, you can be greater than the sum of your parts.
8. Spend Family Time Together
Just as you need to reconnect regularly as a couple, it’s important to continue strengthening the bonds between your family members. Connect with each other as a larger family unit, but also make a point of spending some alone time with each of your children when you can, whether they’re on the spectrum or not. Everyone in the family could use some one-on-one time.
7. Have Some Time Alone
Like a dull knife can’t cut, you may find yourself worn down by the constant pressure and stress of taking care of a child with autism. Sharpen your edge by having some occasional “me” time and taking part in fun activities. Be part of a book club, go running, or have a night out with friends. Do something for yourself, and allow your spouse the occasional opportunity as well.
6. Fight … and Make Up
Don’t be afraid to fight with your spouse. Having a child with autism can be stressful, and sometimes it might be helpful to let out whatever is bothering you. Don’t let things fester and stew. But be careful of directing autism-related anger at them, and remember to make up after any fight. Clear the air, and then move on.
5. Get Enough Sleep
While getting your child with autism a good night’s rest can pose its own difficulties, the simple truth is a good night’s sleep can work wonders for you and your child. Nobody can function well while being consistently sleep-deprived. Take the necessary steps to make sure you and your kids are doing everything you can to find sufficient rest. In those instances when you’re successful, things will certainly seem better in the morning.
4. Get Help
Even when working as a two-person team, both you and your spouse have individual needs, and there may be times where you need outside help. It might just be a family member helping with watching the kids, or if one or both of you find you’re simply unhappy, enlist the help of support groups or a marriage counselor. The stress from raising a child with autism can be difficult to deal with; don’t be afraid to take the necessary steps to take care of yourself.
3. Focus on the Good
Focus on the little victories that happen, and the good moments in your marriage and life. Your child with autism will have good days where they connect with others and adjust to life easily, or you may have a nice, romantic night with your spouse that goes off flawlessly. Drink in these moments and celebrate them. Learn from the darker moments, but also let them go, and avoid focusing on the bad. It can only bring you down.
2. Have a Sense of Humor
Learn to laugh with your spouse, whether it’s at yourself or whatever shenanigans your child with autism gets into. Laughter can brighten most anything, and a sense of humor can make those stressful moments a little more bearable. It may also help you bounce back quicker from any obstacle or setback.
1. Rethink Your Priorities
Life changes with both marriage and children, especially if you have a child with autism. Be willing to be flexible with your schedule and family life. Sometimes, it may be helpful to let your weekend cleaning go in exchange for family time. Give up yard work for an afternoon out with your spouse and kids.
While the added responsibilities of raising a child on the spectrum can sometimes make things difficult for you and your spouse, sticking it out together can only help your chances at overcoming any obstacle. Maintaining a healthy relationship and marriage with your spouse is crucial to establishing stability in the household, and it’s the best thing you can give to your children.
Setting boundaries with appropriate consequences can be difficult for any parent, and uniquely so for parents with a child on the spectrum. Clink the link below for eight steps on how to set consequences for children with autism.