For involved parents of an autistic child, autism can undoubtedly put a toll on a marriage; therefore, it is essential that couples are aware of how to rebuild and strengthen their bond while efficiently taking care of their child with autism.
Even without the existence of autism within the family, divorce has already been rampant in the United States with statistics revealing that around 50% of couples discontinue their marriages, the American Psychological Association cited. According to Jennifer Baxt, LMFT, LMHC, “Divorce is not something that should never be entered into lightly. It means an end to that relationship and the breakup of a family, which can be greatly traumatizing to the children of that marriage.”
Modern-day parents currently have more access to educational materials that can help them in widening the scope of knowledge about autism as a pediatric condition. Also, parents can easily seek the help of medical professionals who can provide insight and techniques on how to take care of an autistic child. All these, while keeping the marriage as steady as possible, can be quite challenging for couples.
Ways Of Maintaining Marriages
Don’t let your marriage become another divorce statistic. As committed couples and responsible parents, there are minor changes that you can incorporate into your daily routines that can help focus on your relationship and your family significantly.
- Consider Each Other As Teammates
“Often, kids, teens and adults on the spectrum spend a lot of time trying to be “normal”, fighting sensory overload and overwhelm, fending off personal quirks, and trying so hard to “fit in”,socially and otherwise.” Karla Helbert, LPC, E-RYT, C-IAYT said. Therefore, when taking care of children with autism disorder, it is essential to keep in mind that it’s not a one-man or one-woman army; both couples have to be invested in making sure that their children are appropriately managed. After all, parents are also partners.
Both parents have significant roles in attending to their child’s needs. Neglecting to be part of the care process for your kid and just allowing your partner to carry all the weight can consequently reflect on your marriage. Sharing the load of being a caregiver while providing encouragement can strengthen the relationship, taking couples far in their union.
- Fight About It
Arguments within a relationship are typical and also considered healthy. Without discord, there can be no clarity that can lead to amends. Do not be afraid to air out your grievances to your better half and emphasize the things that upset you to find solutions and create positive changes within the household. Do not allow issues to fester and stew. However, always be careful in directing anger that is related to autism care towards your significant other. After the fight, make sure to patch things up and move on.
- Don’t Take Yourself For Granted
Looking after an autistic child can drain the life out of you. More so, it can wear down a once affectionate relationship. Since you are merely human, you are allowed to be exhausted and depleted of all sense of determination and patience either from your child’s condition or your better half. Having occasional “me” time can release stress and pressure from all your obligations as a parent and as a partner. Engage in relaxing and fun activities or go somewhere with friends to unwind.
- Sleep As Much As You Can
Another essential that must not be taken for granted is a good night’s sleep. “The amount of sleep you get and the quality of that sleep can actually affect your physical and mental health in ways you don’t anticipate,” says Julia Hogan, LCPC. Though it can be quite a challenge to get that much-needed snooze due to autism childcare, the reality is that having sufficient amount of sleep is beneficial for a couple’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Sleep is necessary to function and make decisions effectively. Create a schedule where you and your child can get enough sleep. It is during these moments of rest that you will realize troubles become light and you have a particular boost for your day ahead.
- Go On Dates
For couples that are on a 24/7 care duty, going on dates to rekindle their bond can be tough because it seems as though there’s not enough time to become intimate and romantic. However, having time for each other is necessary to strengthen the connection. Parents who are dealing with children on the spectrum should always consider going on dates at least twice a month. You can ask other family members to take care of your child for a while. For the sake of your relationship, do activities together that you both enjoy, whether it’s trying out a new restaurant, watching movies, or karaoke nights.
Raising and nurturing a child with autism disorder can take a toll on any relationship especially if both couples are struggling due to insufficient knowledge about the condition and ineffective management skills. For this reason, autism can magnify small issues between couples that can affect their relationship significantly. Maintaining a healthy and trustworthy marriage is necessary for establishing a stable household that is reflective of the care that will be given to your autistic child.