Shan's focus was more on the myth surrounding the divorce rate in families with special needs children; some say it is as high as 80%. Mull that one over eh?
She interviewed me for the post, and used an excerpt of my response to her query:
1) Are your child's special needs a factor in the state of your marriage?
2) for better or for worse?
and my answer is...
Yes, and while I feel that children change the direction of any marriage, having a special needs child changes the direction of everything in your life, and often.
I feel lucky because I got to figure out really early on that I married the right man, and that I want this marriage to last my lifetime. We have learned how to be a team, how to give each other space, how to argue while still taking care of some pretty big or stinky jobs.
I do think marriage is harder when you have a special needs kid. Just finding a babysitter to go to therapy can feel insurmountable, and where is the money for date night supposed to come from when all of your dollars seem to be going towards therapy or special shoes, or another stroller that's even bigger because your kid still can't walk? Everything is just a little bit harder, fixing dinner, bath time, childcare, hours you keep at the office versus home; having a special needs kid impacts the choices you make in every category of your life, it's not like "marriage" could really stand outside of that.
And all of these marriages with typical kids that end in divorce? Sometimes I get angry... sort of like "wait a minute you have everything going for you there: health, and typical kids, and no short bus, no 2+ hour IEPs and no wondering whether you are going to drive off the road because you're so tired because your kid has epic migraines and hasn't slept in days." I think, "Why is it that we are making this work, and you can't with your simple, easy, carefree life?" And I know that's not completely fair, because every relationship has its moments, it just seems we have a lot of things working against us, and we are still here, together.
So it occurs to me that maybe that's why we're still here, or at least part of the reason, aside from really having liked each other to begin with. Maybe having a special needs kid has cemented our relationship, in ways that only despair, coupled with a deep abiding love for our child, could possibly do.
We have learned how to move through adversity, together, and we share the same dark, dark, humor, and we have remembered to laugh. We have figured out, on our worst days, how to still be good roommates, because we have children to raise, and an example to set for them.
I don't necessarily recommend adding a special needs child to a marriage to strengthen it, I'm not thinking it works that way, but for me, for us, we're going to be just fine; place your bets.