I remember early in our journey as parents, Rick and I were told that when parents have a child with disabilities, 90% of their marriages end in divorce. It is a statistic that was always in the back of our minds. We saw so many of our friends who faced that statistic head-on.
Marriage after marriage failed. Sometimes a husband would walk away. Sometimes it was the wife who just couldn’t do it any longer. Some could put aside differences and co-parent their children. Others would struggle on as single parents, caring for their child with disabilities alone. Seeing the loss of so many marriages, we made a decision that, no matter what, we would stay together.
Taking care of 3 kids with disabilities wasn’t easy. There were never enough hours in a day to meet their needs and to keep our marriage a top priority. We learned that we might not get those romantic getaways. Date nights would be few and far between. We had to find opportunities to spend time as a couple whenever we could.
Two non-profits in San Antonio became our marriage lifelines. Respite Care of San Antonio had Parents Night Out where both children could have a fun evening. And we could spend an evening sitting across a table, eating and talking.
We also connected with Camp CAMP. They also had a monthly kids’ night out. We had to drive 20 miles or so around San Antonio during rush hour for the kids to attend. But it was worth it to have those 2 or 3 hours to reconnect.
Once a year, Ryan went for a week at Camp CAMP. When Katelyn turned 6, she went to the sibling camp at the same time. Rick and I finally had a week to spend time as a couple.
The first year, we headed to the coast for a couple’s week. We checked in to the hotel and went to dinner. There was a message light blinking when we got back to the room. Yes, it was a call from camp. Ryan was very sick. We needed to come back.
By the time we got back, Ryan was fine. But we learned an important lesson. We wouldn’t go farther away than an hour’s drive.
After Ryan died, we were told once again that 90% of marriages where parents lose a child, fail. We continued our determination to stay together. We’ve made it to 41 years of marriage. Last year, we became empty nesters. We like it!
Even though we’ve made it this far, we don’t take each other for granted. We know that communication is key. We also know that we are too stubborn to give up.
I was surprised how parenting a kid with intensive needs affected my relationship with my older children and my extended family.
Categories: Family Support