Marriage is hard. Relationships take work.
For those of us who have kids with special needs, there's an added list of challenges to the ones that all couples endure. Statistics say our marriages are harder to make work, but I believe you can use anything as a reason to "fail."
Any of us can choose to give up or feel sorry for ourselves. We can sit and cry over how unfair life is or we can take a deep breath and move forward. Parents of special needs children are strong, but we are more than just parents. We are superheroes, and our needs must be met, too.
As you read this, know that my husband, Mark, and I work hard to find a balance. We don't always have great days, and we certainly know what stress is in our marriage, BUT we have also found a mutual respect and reached a delicate balance.
I am by no means a relationship expert, but as an expert of my daily experiences, I've have come up with a few tips to help couples stay strong in special-needs families. Here's what I continue to practice in my own marriage.
Appreciate each other's efforts. See from each other's perspectives. Embrace each other's differences. Doing all this can and will strengthen your relationship. And spend a few minutes focusing on each other, not just your kids -- it will help you remember the person you fell in love with, and why you fell in love with them.
For special-needs parents, our daily lives may be more difficult, and we may not always be prepared to deal with everything. But tough times doesn't have to be a recipe for divorce. Difficult does NOT have to mean impossible!
Carissa Garabedian is a married mom of three children and two Shih Tzus who loves to cook and leave food on her friends' doorsteps. She is also the founder of KnowDifferent.net, a site focused on resources for special needs kids and families to create a sense of community. Follow her on Twitter @knowdifferent and on Facebook.
Photo of young couple in love via Shutterstock