Are you working on your marriage or your divorce? Someone wise once said the following words to me during a particularly rough patch in my marriage. “You’re either working on your marriage or your divorce.” I must confess that those words more than stung just a bit when uttered to me. I was taken aback by their brashness but those words ring in my ears as I approach my marital interactions.
What does this all mean though? Why would a person purposely work on their divorce? Of course no one purposely works on their divorce. Let’s face it though. Marriage is hard work. Marriage with a child with autism is infinitely harder. You have to put your child’s needs before everyone else’s sometimes. That’s ok. There are times when I have to put Logan front and center in order to meet his needs. This doesn’t make him more important than my marriage. Autism dictates that his needs supersede everyone else’s on occasion. At that point, I may not be working on either my marriage or divorce. I’m just trying to survive. You have two choices at this intersection in life. You can make time for your spouse or keep putting autism first and work on your divorce.
Marriage is all about you before me. It’s about meeting your spouse’s needs to the best of your ability before your own. It’s about having sloppy joes for dinner because he loves them. It’s about taking over parenting duties so she can watch football uninterrupted. Some days it’s about getting up with the boy who is up at 2 AM and playing Halo so the working parent can rest. It seems pretty simple though. I try to put Michael’s needs before my own every single time. I do that regardless of whether he returns the favor.
Here’s the kicker. You and only you are responsible for your half of the marriage. You can’t make your spouse keep up his end of the bargain. That is not your responsibility. The only person you can control in this relationship is you. I alone control my reactions and interactions with Michael. I am not always successful in them either. Those are times when I ‘m working on my divorce. When I’m short with him, put my needs before his, or don’t make time for him then I am actively working on my divorce. I let my emotions get the best of me far more often than I care to admit. I’m human. That makes me an imperfect being on many an occasion.
At the end of the day, it is always my goal to have more working on my marriage moments than working on my divorce moments. Not doing anything to better your marriage is an active step toward working on your divorce. I am not always successful in these endeavors. Some days autism gets the best of me making me less than loving. It is my hope that those days are few and far between. When I am, I pray that I have built up his reserves enough to remember the loving days. That’s when grace abounds on both sides .