Marriage, Relationships, and Long Term Effects When Faced With An Autism Diagnosis
Life is full of ups and downs. Marriage is a huge area for learning all about those ups and downs. It's already challenging, but now add children into the mix. Oh boy! Schedules become busier and life can get hectic real quick. Now add a diagnosis of Autism, or any other diagnosis, which includes special needs, and those everyday stressors have multiplied. They share the reality of special needs parenting.
I look back on the days that I knew, instinctively, that something was not quite right with my daughter's progress. Her pediatrician advised milestone delays, and other factors that led her to urge me to see a neurologist. There were second opinions, along with visits to other specialists.
Therapy was inevitable, and the fact of the matter was this was not 'going away' anytime soon, if ever. My spouse at the time felt I was overreacting, and he chose to stick his head in the sand. This only increased the stressors of our marriage.
Eventually, our relationship ended in divorce. Statistics show a high divorce rate for families who have children with special needs. As detailed here at Cerebralpalsy.org, everyone deals with news of any type of diagnosis differently.
I feel that It is how you choose to support one another that ultimately determines whether your marriage will stand the test of the diagnosis. Spirituality speaking, prayer and support of loved ones is another important factor.
People think a relationship or marriage is 50/50, when in fact it's 100/100. Both must give 100% in order to survive life's daily challenges. I tried support groups, but still felt like I was all alone in this. Whether one person thinks one way or another finding support is a top priority. Just add it to the doctor appointments, therapy visits, IEP meetings, etc. In fact, here is how to hold on to your job while raising an Autistic child.
Self Care Is Not Selfish
Relationships with friends, other family members, and coworkers will become strained at some point or another. You cannot make everyone happy, and I implore that you don't make it a habit of trying to. A habit you should form is that of self-care. Mom and dads alike.
If you're not healthy, then what good will it do anyone? Stay healthy, ask for help, get rest, and don't expect too much of yourself. Be kind to yourself. When I read this article years ago I related to it so much that I just balled my eyes out. I wasn't alone, I wasn't crazy - and neither are you.
Communication is Key
All any of us can do is the best we can. My advice would be to communicate with your partner as much as possible. Allow one another to 'grieve'. There will be stages of grief, anger, guilt, sadness, and acceptance. We are individual souls with our own emotions. There's an important balance of communication and space that must be understood.
Challenges will come in many forms, but so do blessings. I know regardless of my previous marriage, or other relationships, that my child is a true blessing. They are all angels in disguise teaching us patience, strength, and love.