Hubby was in a wedding this past weekend. I believe there is something magical about weddings. Saying your vows in front of cherished family and friends creates a fundamental shift in your life – there really is more to it than “a piece of paper” when you go from woman to wife and man to husband. Psychologically, spiritually, physically – a shift happens almost like magic the moment your vows are spoken. But the magic doesn’t seem to stop there. Having been to (and participated in) several weddings in the last several years, I’ve noticed something: the magic extends to those in attendance as well.
We have had a rough few years, hubby and I. SPD hasn’t been the only challenge to our relationship, not by a long shot (stories for another time), but it certainly has been a relevant one. Parenting is tough on a marriage in any circumstance: agreeing on how to handle everyday situations with children can be difficult enough when your child is “normal,” and we certainly never expected parenting to be a breeze. We also knew we’d face a few additional practical struggles when Josiah couldn’t eat as a toddler and we first discovered his sensory issues, and a few more when we learned his sensory issues were more pervasive than we originally realized and got his official SPD diagnosis. But I don’t think either of us were prepared for the toll it would truly take on us to parent a child with SPD, individually or as a couple.
Part of the difficulty is that it’s often hard to know whether we’re dealing with behavioral issues or sensory ones; and even when we do know, the course of action to take in dealing with those issues is rarely a clear one. We’re not just driving without a roadmap, we’re driving without a clear windshield! Add to that a mix of very different backgrounds as far as parenting in our families of origin and you have a recipe for some difficult confrontations about exactly how to handle this whole parenting thing.
I sometimes feel like daddy doesn’t consider Josiah’s SPD challenges enough when he’s dealing with him; he often feels like I consider them too much and just need to expect more from him and discipline him more firmly. I often get frustrated that he doesn’t read and research things like I do, so he could better understand our son and his SPD; he gets frustrated that I seem to spend a lot of time researching and not enough time implementing plans and dealing with the everyday running of a household. The reality is that we are probably both a little right and a little wrong.
And then there are all the emotional storms each of us deal with individually that add even more to contend with in our relationship. I wrote about some of my own emotional turmoil in coming to grips with the realities of having a special needs child, and while it gets better, there is always some level of distress, frustration, embarrassment, anger or sadness to deal with. Josh doesn’t tend to talk much about how all this hits him, but I know it’s a factor as well (and perhaps the fact that he doesn’t talk about it with me is yet another factor adding stress to our relationship).
Marriages have alarmingly small success rates these days even without relational strains like having a special needs child, and often those small success rates shrink even further when stresses like this are added in, so even if that was our only challenge, it would have been a rough half-decade. But we’ve also had some other very difficult life circumstances come our way in the last couple years, and the combination of regular daily life and all these other challenges has taken its toll on our relationship.
Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t on the brink of divorce or anything, but we certainly aren’t relating like either of us would like. We are both determined not to become a divorce statistic, and while things are tough, we aren’t at a breaking point or anything – still, the road to relational bliss is not an easy one. Not by a long shot. I often find myself just as mystified about how to nourish our relationship as I am by how to nurture my SPD child. As with anything, some days are better than others, but truth to be told, I’d always hoped for more bliss than we’ve recently experienced.
Things are always a little different after a wedding, though. There’s nothing like watching a couple, whose love is young and intense, to reignite commitment in your own relationship. They are a good reminder of where we’ve been and would like to be again, and it’s a goal we both believe is worth striving for. And perhaps that was always part of the design behind celebrating a marriage publicly . . . that the effects are felt in the entire community, and that by making your commitment of love for all to see, you can be part of something larger than yourselves. So thanks, friends, for making us part of your special day – the magic of your wedding day has sensational impacts beyond what even you might have expected!