31 Days of Parenting Kiddos with Special Needs: Marital Impact

31 Days of Parenting Kiddos with Special Needs

Laura of Inclusive Ignatian Spirituality asked me a couple weeks ago if I could address the impact of having a kiddo special needs has on a marriage.

Absolutely. šŸ™‚

I wish I could say that it had no negative impact on mine but it did. If I had everything to do over again, I would have really laid down what needed to happen back in 2011 when I was staying home with Daniel while Jon was off doing church stuff. It was really difficult for me to be home with Daniel because a.) I hate being a housewife with a burning passion, and b.) I felt really resentful that Jon got to leave the house every day and go work in an office, take drives, etc. without having to figure out how to occupy or take care of a kid who was a challenge to understand. I am a perfectionist to the maximum degree and the fact that I couldn’t figure out how to reach Daniel really caused me a lot of pain. Jon’s day off was Friday and I had to try and get all my doctor’s appointments, massages (medically-necessary because of the fibromyalgia), and Daniel business done that day so that Jon wasn’t having to blow off any of his commitments on other days to watch Daniel. My life got a lot easier when he started preschool because I gained a 5-hour window where I could try and get stuff done and not have to think about how to work Daniel into the equation. Still, almost all of Daniel’s care was on my plate in addition to the full-time job of advocating for him. (Those who think that Medicaid and SSI are easy programs for which anyone can qualify has never had to apply for either one or try to keep the services for which your kid qualifies.)

If I could do everything over again, I would probably have sat down with Jon at the beginning of his call in Galt and listed what needed to happen and divvied it up so that I didn’t have all of the housework, almost all of the Daniel care, and all of the Daniel advocacy on my plate. Ten days into our time in Galt, Daniel ended up in the PICU and that kind of threw everything off including the unpacking of the parsonage which really didn’t ever get accomplished.

I guess my recommendation is that a couple needs to sit down and talk through what needs to happen for their kid and how best to make that happen. If the mom is going to stay home with the kiddo, the dad needs to count on that being on the same level as his full-time job and not his wife having nothing better to do and able to take on all the housework in addition. Things like chores need to be split in such a way where the care-taking parent can focus on the kid but also get some time to recharge. I’m an absolute introvert and need to be BY MYSELF to recharge so that meant that while Jon, an off-the-charts extrovert, needed time with me to charge his batteries, that time couldn’t be time where I could recharge. Instead, things like taking a book to a coffee shop or restaurant and reading while I ate counted toward recharging time and I usually stayed out in the living room and watched TV/surfed the Internet while Jon put Daniel to bed.

Again, the way you make this work is going to vary from couple to couple and family to family. I never really felt like we made it work all that well because I was still under an incredible stressload; but I think part of that was the fact that I was a pastor’s wife and was constantly on display for people to critique so I always had to be perfect or else I incurred the wrath of some of Jon’s parishioners.

1 thought on “31 Days of Parenting Kiddos with Special Needs: Marital Impact

  1. I have two (somewhat related) questions:
    1. Do you think Jon would have been, or was capable of, stepping up to do what needed to be done, even if you had sat down to talk about it?
    2. Do you think if he had stepped up it would have been better or worse for you in relation to your parishioners? Or would Jon have griped about it to anyone that would listen, thus making you look bad to the parishioners?

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