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Let’s be real for a moment.  Marriage is hard.  So very worth it, but hard.  I love my husband and he is my rock.  He loves me unconditionally and would do anything for me and our children.  Add on an extra layer of having a child with special needs and it gets even more stressful.  Did you know that 50 % of marriages end in divorce?  Well……….. that number jumps to 80% for marriages of special needs parents.  So, if you are a special needs parent, how can you strengthen your marriage? 

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80%!??!?!? My goodness, that is a high number.  If that isn’t a wake-up call, I don’t know what is!  Like I said before, marriage is hard.  The first year of my daughter’s life, she had six surgeries and countless hospital visits and doctors appointments.  My daughter has spina bifida and hydrocephalus.  Hydrocephalus, oh how I loathe you!!!  You have caused me many sleepless nights and worry!

Hydrocephalus can sometimes cause emergency surgeries and in turn, cause you to be at the hospital overnight or up to two weeks at a time.  It felt like every single time we went to the doctor, we had to stay for a surgery.  Talk about a stressor!!!  I felt like I was on edge and worried 24/7.  I kept waiting for the ball to drop.  Just waiting on another surgery.  Things like this can be difficult to process and be really hard on a marriage.

Everyone deals with stress differently.  I personally get irritable and hard to deal with.  I get furious every single time my daughter has to have surgery.  Well, these are two traits that add up to be a great partner, lol!

Through all of these things and more, you have to still make your marriage work.

So, how can you beat this statistic and come out with a stronger marriage?

5 Ways to Make Marriage Stronger for a Special Needs Parent

1. Date Night

I know what some of you might be thinking.  How on earth am I supposed to find time for date night?  I barely have time for myself.  Or my child has special medical needs and NO ONE will babysit my child.

You have to find the time or make time for alone time with your spouse in one way or another.  You both need to be without the kids and get a break.

Try to get creative.  If your child has to get catheterize every four hours, try to cath him/her before you leave the house and come back before the next scheduled time.

Watch a movie with your spouse after the children are in bed.

Get off of the electronic devices and have a real face to face conversation (hopefully uninterrupted since the kids will be in bed ?).

2. Be Open and Honest

If you know me in real life you might think this is a slam dunk for me.  WRONG.  While I don’t mind sharing my opinion, I absolutely DO NOT like being vulnerable, crying, etc.  I hate it.

You have to be open and honest with your spouse.  Tell them how you feel.  Tell them when you are angry, hurt, upset, and why you feel that way.

I try to talk to my husband about everything about our daughter.  My deep, dark feelings.  EVERYTHING.  I talk to him about being mad at God, mom guilt, frustrations, etc.  It always makes me feel so much better after talking with my husband.

He is also brutally honest with me. He tells me when I am being ridiculous or when he is feeling the same way as I am at the time.  I mean we are the only people on the planet who understands how the other one feels.  No one, besides God, cares about our children the way we do.

3. Seek Outside Help When Needed

Don't be afraid to seek outside help when needed.  My husband and I occasionally go to a Christian marriage counselor.  I respond better to tough love and when people shoot it to me straight.  I am very blunt and like people to be brutally honest with me. The marriage counselor is just that, brutally honest.  She tells either one of us when we are acting stupid when we just need to get over something and move or listens when we are hurt.

I like having an unbiased third party give us advice.  It is a big stress relief for sure.

Special Needs Parent Marriage

4. Pray Together

I will be honest and say this is something my husband and I need to pray more together.  When we are frustrated, angry, or hurt we pray to God to help us with the situation and make us stronger.  We will pray together and ask God to lead and guide us.

Talking to God is like talking to your best friend.  I share all my feelings with God when I pray.  I mean it is like talking to your best friend.  I tell him when I am happy when I am sad, and I tell him when I am angry with him.  It really helps me to process things and get over them and move on.

5. Give Each Other Breaks

This is really important.  Being a parent is stressful enough.  When you add special needs on top of that, it makes it even more stressful.  My daughter has had several surgeries and has several appointments each month (sometimes several a week).  Add this on top of working full-time and it can get hectic.

Sometimes I feel like I am in survival mode.  Not because each task is particularly difficult, but because there is so much going on every single day.  When you add all of this together, it can definitely get chaotic.

My husband and I both try to give each other breaks.  Even if it is for just a short period of time.  If one of us needs to leave the house, one of us usually keeps the kids and the other one can get a little bit of a break.  When we are at the hospital, we tag in and out as needed.

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These breaks are so important for our sanity.  One time, my daughter had to stay in the hospital 2.5 weeks when her shunt got infected.  Staying in a little bitty room 24/7 and not being able to go outside is crazy.  It makes you feel like the walls are closing in on you.

I know it seems like your child(ren) get all of your time and it is hard to make your spouse a priority, but it is imperative. You are on the same team.  You need to spend time with each other apart from the children and recharge.

How do you make your marriage or spouse a priority?  Let me know in the comments below.

husband and wife holding hands