Keeping Your Marriage Strong
A Parent's Guide to Autism
It is important to stay as connected as possible to your spouse and keep the lines of communication open.
In addition to the normal demands of marriage, parents of a child with autism may also experience:
- Additional stress from navigating the maze of agencies, funding sources and paperwork to help your child.
- Loss of income due to one parent not working in order to care for your child and the additional expense of hiring and managing specialized caretakers.
- Different points of view regarding your child's challenges and decisions about treatments and interventions.
- Loss of friendships or loss of time and energy to maintain outside friendships.
- Worries about the long-term future of your family.
- Changes in your retirement plans, your ability to take vacations or explore enrichment activities, etc.
Tips to keep your marriage strong while dealing with the everyday challenges of living with autism:
- Communicate! The more you can communicate in challenging times, the stronger you will be as a couple. You and your spouse may not react to your child's diagnosis in the same way, but try to explain how you feel and listen carefully as your spouse shares his or her feelings as well.
- Talk openly about problems as they occur.
- Be kind to yourself and your spouse during this difficult time.
- Work together to learn all that you can about autism.
- Help each other focus on the present and what you can do to make things better today.
- Spend time together. Plan some alone time, even if it is just a few hours a week, to relax and have fun together. Try and enjoy the leisure activities you did before your child was diagnosed with autism.
- Share the responsibilities at home when possible. Work together on chores, childcare, homework and other household tasks.
- Get help if you need it. A marriage counselor can help you and your spouse sort through your feelings and maintain a healthy marriage.
- Sort out what is important and what isn't important to the two of you. Take a close look at the best ways to make a good life for you and your family.