This post has been simmering in my mind for months now, I wanted to share that what can wreck a person, or at least feel like it is, can actually strengthen a relationship into something so solid the ties seemingly cannot be broken.
When we received Cedar’s diagnosis I had been married to my best friend for 18 years, that is a long time, friends. We have been through the births of 5 other children and the miscarriages of 4 that we never got to meet. We have been through career changes, financial ups and downs and so much more walking this path of life together. Marriage is not easy, in fact, there were times that we both wondered in the beginning if we were going to make it.
When Cedar was born I wondered for a time if this was going to break us, if this was the thing that would drive a wedge between us and cause marital stressors that would be hard to get past. You see, I wanted another baby but my husband would have been happy to move out of the baby bearing years. We ended up expecting baby #6, something that was a bit of a surprise to both of us. I had a bit of guilt at first when we received Cedar’s diagnosis, guilt that my husband would be angry with me, that it would be his resentment that I had wanted another child and our child now had a disability. I was worried that deep down my husband and I would not be the same again.
Here is where God, prayer, and a good relationship base helped us become stronger. My husband was my rock in the beginning, he was the one who took the news and just was kind of okay with it. He was the one telling me, it’s going to be fine, he will be great and it is all going to be okay. This was the man that I was afraid was going to be upset…he wasn’t.
There was a lot to take in when we first received Cedar’s diagnosis though, a lot of the medical world that we had to navigate together and we did it by checking in with one and other daily, and praying for one and other as well as praying together as a couple.
In the first weeks we gave each other space, but not too much. We cuddled our new little one and talked about him to one and other. We would ask each other what each other’s concerns and fears were and try out best to comfort one and other. We checked in with one and other by saying things like, “How are you doing with all this today?” Some days were harder than others, sometimes we gave each other a break and when one of us was in need of a break from the emotional aspects of it all, we provided that to who needed it. In a marriage you kind of know what your partner does for healthy stress relief and we offered that to one and other, my husband gave me time to process but also gave me time to do what helped me relieve stress and I provided the same avenue for him.
We also gave each other grace. When one of us was maybe a bit more snippy with the other than usual, we gave each other a break instead of fighting fire with fire. What I learned through the whole process is that there are things that come into your marriage that can actually strenghten you, when you fear that they won’t.
Here are some tips I would offer any other couple on this road…
Don’t push each other away…talk
When you become parents, it is stressful. When you become parents of a special needs child, it is even more so but don’t push one and other away, find time to talk about your fears and use each other’s strengths to help both of you. Set aside a time when you can talk to one and other daily, be it over a cup of coffee in the morning or just before bed at night. If you are the one who wants to talk and your partner doesn’t, this is where prayer is invaluable. Pray for your partner, pray for them to talk to you and to recieve comfort.
We are a Christian couple and I do not know how people make it in their marriage if they don’t have God, I know we never would have. If you set aside time daily to pray for one and other it is never a bad idea, it is even better when you can pray together.
Make Time for Your Relationship
In the midst of all the processing, medical screenings and physical therapy, continue to make time for dates. If you do something as simple as a fine cheese and cracker tasting on your back patio while the baby sleeps, it still counts. If you have the ability to enjoy dinner out on the town weekly, all the better, but whatever you do, date your spouse.
Seek Help When You Need It
When the emotions become too big, the weight of it all too much, sometimes we reach out to others. Maybe it is your best friend, maybe your pastor or a parent, but reach out when you are struggling and let your spouse know that you are reaching out.
Decide It Is Worth It
Any married couple will tell you that there are times when a marriage is not 50/50, in fact, often it’s 100/100 or 25/75, the bottom line is one of you needs to be strong for the other and then sometimes the roles change. Marriage is hard work, but it is worth it. Your child deserves parents who are able to work through the emotions and forge ahead so be sure that you make the decision because it is worth it.