It's so easy for parents of children with special needs to get sucked in to everyday life and not make special time for your special someone. Just making it through each day with your sanity seems like a big feat sometimes. We spend our days coping instead of celebrating the very reasons we married in the first place. As told in a post, by a new IS friend, most marriages of children with special needs don't make it. We ,like Shawna and Don are doing our best not to become one of the statistics. Shawna's post is a must read. It really hits the nail on the head with what most SN parents go through. Also, check out their site if you have a chance. There is a lot of great info posted there.
I can't say enough how important it is to make time for each other. Mark and I try to live by simple common sense rules that most married people try to live by. Most are just common sense, but sometimes it's tough to remember these things:
1. Only one person is allowed to go crazy at a time. This one is a tough one, but we try to take turns. If the other obviously can't hold it together, we try our best to have one of us be rational at all times. Usually that's Mark ;)
2. Do sweet things for each other when the other is having a bad day. Most things you can do don't cost any money and mean so much to the other person. "Honey, why don't you sleep in today, you've had a rough week.", "Why don't you leave the kids here and go run that errand alone?", "I could tell you were having a hard day, why don't I cook/pick something up and we can talk about it over dinner.", "I was out by your favorite coffee house, so I thought I'd grab you a latte.", "I picked up your favorite ____ at the store today. I know how much you love them." (Eh hem, yep, sometimes my sweetie needs a reminder)
3. Be a good listener. Realize that the person doesn't always want you to fix things or make suggestions how to do things in a more efficient way. Sometimes they just want you to hear what they are saying and understand them.
(Mark is a great listener. I really feel like he hears and understands what I'm saying. It's one of the things I love most about him. He knows when I want him to be Mr. Fix It and when to be a shoulder for me to cry on. What I like best, is when he will listen to me rant all night, then a day or two later when I am feeling more rational he will present me with a solution.)
4. Try your best not to take things out on your spouse. I know this one is difficult, especially for parents with kids with special needs. It's convenient to blow up at the person that is closest to you. In those times when you do, always be the first to apologize.
5. If you are wrong, and you know you are, admit it. Nothing will help grow your relationship and you as a person more than accepting responsibility for your actions. Every couple fights, but try to be the bigger person, hug and make up.
6. Never discuss important/tense issues or argue in front of your children. Even children that do not cognitively understand what you are saying can be effected by it. Negative energy leads to more negative energy, so keep things to positive commentary as much as possible in front of the kids. Of course everyone will bicker about who left the toilet seat up or who left the dirty dish on the counter, but I think you know what I mean ;)
7. Laugh together every day. There is a sunny side to everything. We find that humor gets us through the tough times. If you don't have a sense of humor, watch funny movies together, forward funny emails, point out a funny commercial. You can always point out something you find funny that will probably make your spouse laugh to.
8. Send each other sweet cards, text messages, emails, notes, phone calls, etc. It's nice to let the other person know you are thinking of them and care about them. Everyone needs to be reminded that we are loved.
9. Celebrate each child separately once in a while. It's not always possible to hire a baby sitter to take another child out, but have special days that the activities are geared towards that particular child. Especially if the other child or children are typical. They need to know they are just as special too. Seeing our children's happiness always gives us more motivation to be loving to each other.
10. The most important one...make time to go out alone as much as you possibly can. Whether it's once a week, once a month, just do it! Try to make it a rule not to discuss the children while you are out. Talk about art, talk about books, talk about anything, BUT the kids! You had something to talk about before you had children, otherwise you would have never had any! If you find it difficult to get on a topic. Talk about the days before you had kids, you will most likely find warm memories to reminisce.
Love and big hugs,