Marriage & Autism - 3 Tips for Couples
I’ll never forget that moment when the doctor said, “Your son has autism.”
My heart sank into a million pieces which was then followed by unstoppable tears that lasted for days. Every parent wants their kid to be healthy and happy and have friends and a career and love and be loved and with that diagnosis, all of those hopes I had for our son were crushed. The diagnosis alone is overwhelming and I had to make the phone call to my husband to let him in on the news. Will he be in denial? Will he get angry? Will he cry with me? Will he be willing to sit down and talk with me about all of our options moving forward?
Luckily the conversation went well and we’ve had to learn that when it comes to autism and marriage, you have to be a team - no matter what!
That you're stronger together than apart and are there to support each other when friends and family don’t always understand the demands autism has.
Here are 3 tips that we’ve found to be very helpful for our marriage and you know us…. we keep it real. These actually work and if you try them, you’ll see quick wins in your relationship.
Take a "Vacation" from Autism
We choose 3 nights a week where we are not allowed to talk about our son and autism. That means no discussions about doctors appointments, speech therapists, insurance issues, behavior therapist updates, diet changes, and the possibility of what homeschooling will look like. ( I think we’ve had the same exact conversation about schooling at least 10 times in the last 3 months). We noticed early on that our conversations all revolved around autism. Autism and parenting are very exhausting and can consume your marriage if you let them. But don’t! Create healthy boundaries and choose certain nights where no one is allowed to discuss what we call the “A" word.
Gather the Troops
It takes a village to raise children but it takes an even braver and larger and more willing village to help with an autistic child. Do not allow your pride or embarrassment to keep you from reaching out to your friends, neighbors, and family to help you. If you’re worried that your son or daughter might have one of their 3-hour-long tantrums, prepare them ahead of time and teach them how to best help your child in those moments. Have them hang out with you for a day and let them watch how you approach difficult situations. Gathering the troops will give you a well deserved break which will help keep you and your spouse mentally and emotionally healthy. This will also give you the opportunity to go on date nights which you know we always say is a nonnegotiable in marriage.
Sign up for Naked Conversations
Just like parenting, being proactive is better, and cheaper, than being reactive. Our most popular resource Naked Conversations works and is extremely convenient, especially for parents who are parenting a child with autism. We have teaching videos, couples work sheets, date ideas, live Q&A’s, bonus emails, e-books and so much more and all of it can be accessed from your phone. Because the demands autism offers, married couples need to find practical and easy to use resources to keep their marriage fresh and vibrant. We truly created this resource because our own marriage needed something that we could do in our home that didn’t cost us an arm and a leg.
We are a learning community and we’d love to hear from all of you amazing parents who are raising sons and daughters with autism. What are you helpful tips that can inspire other parents?
Written by Meygan Caston
Meygan Caston is the co-founder of Marriage365 and lives in sunny Southern California with her husband Casey, their two children and dog Hobie. She loves her family, the beach, writing, spa days and helping couples connect in their marriage. Her life long dream is to live with the Amish for a month, walk the Camino and have lunch with Brené Brown.