I spend almost every minute of my waking life caring for my kids. Sometimes, it goes well. Sometimes it doesn’t. But I have had loads of time, and so much trial and error, to study my son’s behaviors, to learn his triggers, to craft his routine, and to meet with all of his doctors and therapists to figure out the best way to help my son learn to cope and live. My husband has maybe two hours every day plus weekends with the kids due to busy work schedule.
The reality is that I am the primary care giver. He is not. It is unrealistic for me to expect that he would know how to do this. I don’t even know how to do this, and I am in it all day, every day.
Divide and Conquer
We have made the most progress, in gaining a better shared understanding of our son, when we have intentionally divided and conquered. I know it seems counter intuitive doing separate things in order to feel more connected, but this has really worked for us. It makes us both feel like the other is contributing to a very difficult situation. And it makes us a team.
We Are So Different
So, so different. ridiculously different. The way we approach our schedules, what we like to eat, how we like to spend our free time, we are two very different people. These differences are part of our marriage. And I can see how they make us both better.
I think this means I shouldn’t be surprised, when my husband responds to the kids differently than I do. I don’t have to like it, but I do need to recognize that this is a part of who he is. He is more laidback than I am. He is more prone to be the fun parent and the big kid with both Andrew and Arwyn, while I am the dictator, and stickler about discipline and ABA therapy and practices for Andrew.
Sometimes he messes up. Sometimes I mess up. When we give each other grace in parenting, even with our different approaches, our children fare better. So, do we.
that brings me to my most important point –
It’s About the Two of Us
Our marriage is about us. Not the kids. No matter how much our day-to-day involves our children, Andy and I are married. Not man, wife and two kids that require a lot of care. What I have tried to communicate to Andy, and I would encourage other spectrum moms to do the same, is that when he acts goofy or acts like a big kid himself when he needs to discipline the kids or checks out and leaves me to deal with all the tough stuff, it hurts my heart as his wife – not as the kids’ mom.
For me, the worst part about being the primary care giver, is having my husband being too busy with work stuff or understand how tough it is (or in some instances, make caring for my son more difficult by not following the ABA therapy suggestions to the T like I do. I think for Andy, it is the feeling that I am aligning myself with the kids, and not with him.
The only way I have found to combat this (and believe me, we are terrible at it most of the time), is to lean in and not pull away. It’s seeking the other, wanting to try to get back on the same page,
apologizing, forgiving, admitting that we suck at this, and agreeing to give each other grace, repeatedly.
Marriage is easy on paper.
It’s the living, day in and day out, that complicates it, especially while raising a child on the spectrum.