In the early days of marriage, I thought I had it all figured out. My wife and I regularly went out and grew closer than ever. I thought that things would continue that way for the rest of our marriage.
Then we had kids and somehow everything seemed to go wrong.
Our eldest son had a host of issues from defiance, attachment issues, aggression and many others. We sought treatment for his conditions, took our son to plenty of therapy sessions and generally did our best to help him lead the best life possible.
However, the one thing my wife and I forgot to do was stay focused on our marriage. The stress of raising a troubled child put a considerable strain on our marriage and it started driving us apart.
We argued frequently and disagreed on everything from each other’s parenting style to what food our son should be eating and how frequent his therapy sessions should be.
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We were miserable and we had to make a few changes to turn things around. If we continued in the same vein, our marriage would end up becoming a casualty of the upheaval that comes with bringing up a difficult child.
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Somehow, we had to find a way to be good parents to our son without losing sight of each other.
Separating our parental emotions from our marital ones took time.
but here’s what helped –
1. Creating time for each other
My son’s tantrums, meltdowns, and impulsivity drained our energy and we found we had little time for each other.
To make our marriage work, we changed that. We discovered the value of making time for ourselves where we weren’t mom or dad but two people who loved one another.
We put aside half an hour before bed to just sit and enjoy our own company without interruptions.
2. Presenting a united front
Getting on the same page about setting limits, boundaries, and consequences is important, especially when dealing with a troubled child.
We had to have a discussion on how to handle our son’s outbursts and defiance so that we would work as a team to provide consistent parenting. This helped my son know what was expected of him and he became less troublesome when he saw he couldn’t play us against each other.
Also, read – Raising a special child requires teamwork in marriage
3. Constant communication
Keeping anger, frustration, disappointment and other negative feelings bottled up is a recipe for disaster. It only leads to frustration. We found that open communication and being honest with each other helped diffuse tension at home.
My wife and I both learned to ask for what we wanted and we also gave the support and help that the other needed.
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4. Looking for little ways to be nice
How often do you and your spouse express admiration, appreciation, and affection?
The hassle of bringing up kids can tempt you to put your marriage on autopilot. But you can flip the script by learning how to do little things to show your partner how much you appreciate them.
Perhaps leaving them love notes, taking over some duties so they can relax, etc.
5. Getting professional help
It’s okay to seek professional help when the demands of bringing up a troubled child become overwhelming. In fact, something like sending them to a residential treatment center for teens can remove them from a negative environment while giving your marriage time to breathe.
Raising children, especially troubled teens can test the strongest of marriages.
When this happens, it’s vital to learn how to deal with things so that the stress doesn’t end up bringing down your marriage.