Just the other day I was cleaning my house. Through the dust webs I noticed an unfamiliar picture of a happy and carefree couple. It dawned on me how most days I do not get to put my “wife” cap on because I am so busy wearing my “caregiver” cap.
If you read the statistics on divorces among couples that have children with disabilities, they do not look good. The added stress, financial cost, and daily living makes it hard to have any energy left at the end of the day for your spouse. It is so important to set aside a dedicated period for “couple time.” It is crucial to have this allotted time at least once a month, but weekly would be ideal.
If things are stable and all the stars fall in place, my husband and I like to have dates at least twice a month. We do not do anything fancy, just a time to catch up and reconnect with each other. If we can schedule respite care for our daughter and have a place for our boys to be, it is an awesome date. If we have extra money to go out, then it is the “perfect” date! We usually just pick a low-key restaurant and eat and just sit and talk for an hour. For special occasions, we might even go to see a movie!
There are those times when we are low on funds, so we usually will just go to a park and enjoy the weather and each other’s company. Sometimes our city will have free events on the day we get to have our date, so we will go to those. If the weather is bad and we cannot find any free events, we will end up at the indoor mall. It is free to walk, talk, and window shop. We have also been known to do our week’s food shopping trips on date night. Just to be able to get away as a couple can be refreshing.
There have been times when we do not have respite and money at the same time, so we must improvise. After the kids are in bed for the night, we will turn off all electronics and screens and make a date in our living room. Adding candles and music can make a romantic evening. Having a meal together can help us make a connection. Just being able to talk without being interrupted can be magical.
Sometimes life makes it very hard for us to get this time. Often things come up, like illness and emergencies, where it is impossible to keep the “date.” But we reschedule and make the time for our next ‘date’. It is always so worth it in the end to be able to have just a little “couple time.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.