20 years of marriage is no small accomplishment. In a world where my children are the exception not the rule because their parents are still happily married, it’s a bigger feat. One worth shouting from the rooftops or at least celebrating. I’ll take any excuse to celebrate especially if there is cake involved. A fat kid has to eat you know.
I would be lying to you if I said the past 20 years have been easy. I would still be lying if I said that I had never thought of leaving. Every marriage is hard work. Decisions have to be made on a daily ,sometimes minute by minute, basis to put someone else’s needs before your own. No marriage is going to work unless that happens. This can be so tough in a typical marriage . A special needs marriage takes it to a whole new level.
Autism brought some much chaos to our lives as well as our marriage. There were days when I didn’t see Michael at all because he was working so much to provide financially for Logan’s needs. When he did come home, I was beyond exhausted . He was my only respite from the day in and day out demands of having a child with autism. Those years are a complete blur to be honest. We were in survival mode .
A new baby didn’t make life easier (obviously we saw each other at least once during that time). Logan loved his baby sister more than anything. We started to see some improvement in him. He became verbal . Life wasn’t easier but it was a different exhaustion. Maybe it was a new level of chaos that we have didn’t recognize. It would lead us into the darkest part of our marriage.
There comes a time in every marriage when you think , what am I doing? This guy snores too loud, expects me to cook his food and wash his laundry plus take care of these children. If you are a homeschooling mama that is expected of you as well. In your mind, your husband goes to work where he gets a break from all this madness. In his mind, you get to sleep in and stay in your pajamas all day. You’re thinking I’d love a shower but I can’t leave these children alone. He’s thinking how could she not grab a shower. Let me give you some advice from someone who’s been there done that. Negative thoughts are never a good thing. You are at the toughest point in your marriage. Hang in there. Make a conscious choice to put the other person’s needs ahead of your own. It doesn’t have to be every time. It does have to be a majority of the time. Your marriage will not survive if you sacrifice it at the altar of autism. Take time to look for positive things in your spouse. Remembering these will help when the negatives show their ugly face.
I look back on those years with a pang of regret. I couldn’t see his pain past my own. I wish I had been more understanding as well as appreciative of his sacrifice to provide for our family. All I could see was what I was sacrificing. I didn’t see the privilege he was gifting me of being home with our children. As they approach adulthood, I’ve noticed the tinge of envy in his eyes at the closeness the children and I share. I’ve seen him cringe when they come to me to ask questions or get assistance. I see my relationship with the children transitioning to friendship while they still see him as a parent. He sacrificed those years for me. That is the epitome of love.
We are older and wiser with gray appearing both in our hair and beard. Well, beard for him because that would be weird if I had one. I love him more today than I ever thought possible that day 20 years ago when we said I do. I never anticipated the curve ball that autism would throw at us . Our marriage is so stronger because of it. Seeing him play with our children, do therapy with our child with autism or explain math problems that make my head spin remind me of how incredibly blessed my life has ended up. The fact that he makes me coffee before he leaves for work helps me to forget the dishes he leaves in the sink for me. It’s all about balance.