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80% of parents...

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Old 08-26-2006, 07:41 AM   #1
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soozeq HB User
80% of parents...

...of children with autism end up divorced. How do we avoid this. Lately, I feel like my husband and I are not on the same team. I feel like he's jealous of the time I spend with the kids. I feel like I put so much of my emotional energy into just getting through this, that I have none left for him. We had the stupidest fight in the world this morning, just before he left for work (overtime). I was saying how glad I was that I would get extra time with Kaya, now that Liam is starting school. He wanted to know, where the extra time for him was. I have a job, 2 kids, therapy up the wazoo, and zero time for myself. I guess I just figured that Shane understood that, and could deal with it. Lately we fight over rediculous things, like tone of voice or facial expessions. We're looking for a fight, I really believe. I feel so blue over this. I read a post by Liz Cook, that read as follows:

"you need to find some time for you and then you need to find some time for your relationship. you cant do this alone at this point and i find that alot of moms of disabled children unconciously push their spouses out of the picture. ofcourse this leads to frustration and resentment because you want help but want your spouse to offer and he has long since learned not to bother. here is what i see happen most... you have a beautiful baby and everyone is happy and gaga over the darling dumpling and then you have all your plans for this little bundle's life and how picture perfect everything is going to be... and then of course you fall instantly in love with their cherubic little faces and pudgy little fingers and toes... and then say 4 or 6 months down the road (for us parents with severe kids) things start to get out of whack... you cant put your finger on it just yet but something is not right... and then it starts to consume you before you even have a name for it... your every waking moment and even some of your sleeping ones are spent trying to find out what is wrong... what happened to my baby... what should i do... am i just imagining all of this... maybe its just a phase... and then you wait. you try to do your best and your best is just not good enough because you dont know what you are trying to do and so for years until that diagnosis you get more frustrated more scared more worried and you can do everything for your child because you are on this adrenline high of worry and he is so small and then you start quite by accident making your spouse less and less part of whats going on. this happens all of the time and i am quite guilty of it myself but i try real hard to let my husband work with my son... i keep in mind what if something happens to me, mark needs to know how to work with isaac. but you want to protect your child and you become hyper aware of him and every sound he makes all over the house. your focus is always on him in one manner or another. this is natural. and then you start to decide that you are the only one that truly understands him and you probably do because you are so aware of him and since your husband is on the outside of that he doesnt always respond correctly and this is most often when the moms decide just to do it themselves... and they keep doing it... and the dads unless they are assertive in their desire to help let the moms do everything if only to try to keep the peace. i dont know how many times i have jumped down my husband's throat for just correcting my son when isaac is being bad just because i didnt like his tone. the thing is if you want the dad to help you have to let him. i had to learn to let mark make mistakes and how to guide him without making him feel like he was the one in ABA but mark had to learn how to work with isaac and i had to grit my teeth and let him and try not to jump in and undermine any authority mark might have gained or any bonding that may have happened as well. but especially i feel when a child is non verbal you get so aware of their needs that you practically know what they want as soon as they do and you jump and do it because you are so desperate to make anything right for them because they seem so vulnerable and fragile. you need support that is for sure but you may also need to learn to let people help. i know i had to. and it is still a work in progress."

Thank you Liz. This is exactly where we are at, right now. Also, as discussd in that post, I think we are both struggling to get our own selves adjusted to this new 'lifestyle'. Shane had enough trouble after Liam was born, just adjusting to being dad,and now this ASD rollercoaster has got him in an emotional whirlwind. Me too, I guess, but I don't even have the time to acknowledge that. Please, anyone who has made this work for them. I don't want to fix my relationship, I want to adapt to it. I want to be on the same team.

I am open to advice or just to hearing what worked for you.


Last edited by soozeq; 08-26-2006 at 07:42 AM.

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Old 08-27-2006, 12:05 PM   #2
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sross24 HB User
Re: 80% of parents...


Boy do I know what you mean. My husband and I were just talking about that statistic the other day. We have had 3 of our 4 children diagnosed with an ASD this year, so I asked my husband, "If 80% of parents with a kid on the spectrum get divorced, then what hope does that give us with 3 kids on the spectrum?"

To this point we are pretty much on the same page, and getting along really well, but he has complained a little that I have not had much time for him. The best advice I can give you is schedule, schedule, schedule! Although, I do have to say, that I have not been doing too good taking that advice lately. Just as you schedule time for therapy, you also have to schedule me time, and hubby time. Put it on the calender if you have to, and drink an extra cup of coffee that day so you have some energy left for time with hubby.

We used to pick a date night, and we are thinking about starting that again. For example, make every Friday night date night. You don't necessarily have to go out anywhere. Just wait for the kids to go to bed, cook a nice dinner, or order chinese, and watch a rented movie. My husband and I used to do this, and it really gave us something to look forward to each week.

I hope some of this helps, Suzy. The best thing we can do for our ASD kids is keep ourselves happy and healthy through this all. Good luck to you.


Old 08-27-2006, 02:36 PM   #3
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elmhar HB Userelmhar HB User
Re: 80% of parents...

I'm not sure about the 80% figure. Among the 20 or so families I know with a kid on the spectrum, it seems like divorce & separation is a little more common than in general. But it's not 4/5 families. Sometimes studies can be flawed; and of course one person's private experience, like mine, doesn't necessarily predict either.

I don't want our already stressed families to look at a statistic like 80% & have that add to their stress level. 80% to me is like "almost inevitable." Ya gotta question it.

Working together with your spouse, counselling or whatever it takes, is important. There are emotional burdens, psych stress & even physical drains in taking care of our kids.

Best wishes.

Old 08-28-2006, 05:37 AM   #4
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Cantdoitagain HB User
Re: 80% of parents...

Hi Suzy,
I so can relate. Having four children and a full time job myself and trying to fit DH in can be a really hard "chore". Well it was a chore. In Feb/Mar 06 this year our marriage was breaking down and we had to learn to adapt. The biggest thing is communication. You really have to make the time. We can't find a babysitter and date night is out until we can. It is hard to find one for children and one special needs that we trust. My children are all 6 yrs to almost 2yrs old.

Any way....we shipped our children off to my SIL's house for the weekend. We took the weekend to work on things together in the house to catch up and we took the time to talk to each other and we decided on things we could do to make things better between the two of us. These are only suggestions and work differently for everyone, but perhaps it might spur some ideas of your own.

I was feeling alone and like a babysitter and maid and call girl. We spoke to each other about how we felt and what we like about our relationship. We spoke about all the positives about before and now and we spoke about the negatives about now and we discussed how we could change things to focus on us more.

There were lots of tears on my part and now each day I start my day off with a hug and when I get home at night I get hugs and kisses as well. We try to spend some time together just after the children go to bed to sit, chat and cuddle on the couch. Then we go work together or work on stuff and then meet at the end of the night and perhaps have a drink and talk together.

It is hard and I understand how busy life can get. I think communication and taking the time to discuss things with our spouses makes all the difference. At least this is what helped my marriage. Now that it has been almost six months, I see that we are slipping in our habits and need to sit down again and chat. It is something that I see that we constantly need to work on.

Old 08-28-2006, 06:12 AM   #5
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marissamm HB User
Re: 80% of parents...

i agree with elmar. i was married young well 20 and had my kids by the time i was 24,and realized i didn't like my x, not because my son has autism i just didn't love him, so we divorced, i married again when my son was 7, he is almost 18, and my husband is wonderful he took on me and my kids a "package" deal. he is my biggest supporter the only thing we have to deal with is his ex wife, after 10 years you would think she wouls get a clue but anyway men do get jelous and they HAVE TO walk a mile in our shoes, my husband did for one day and realized what a toll it took on me, my x isn't involved with my kids so i never had the luxury of him taking them on weekends. its always me, but now we have a personal assistant for him provided by the state and now i am trying to find a job, i worked but had to stay home with him, due to behavioral problems that finally ended Thank God!i do have an interview this am i hope i will get the job, i lost so many due to autistic issues that i alone could deal with, but hang in there it will get better.

Old 08-28-2006, 07:34 AM   #6
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9CatMom HB User
Re: 80% of parents...

Hugs to all of you!

This sounds like a very grim statistic, something people dealing with ASDs, either their children's difficulties or their own struggles, shouldn't read if they want to stay sane and hopeful. We don't need more doubt in our lives.

Everyone is doing the right things to make a marriage succeed. I think it's crucial to stay on the same page and have a common commitment to help your kids and improve yourselves, if you don't have children, as in my case.

I am just a cat mom, but I feel for all of you. Good luck, and keep doing what you're doing.

Old 08-28-2006, 12:32 PM   #7
Liz Cook
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Re: 80% of parents...

My husband agrees that the 80% might not be that far off of a statistic, especially with how disposable marriage, particularly in america, has become. he read somewhere that 50% of marriage ends in divorce now a days and those are just the stats for "normal" marriages with out disabled children.

we are being trained culturally that if we dont like something you quit. you dont like your job... dont do it... you dont like your kids... let the state have them... (i actually saw that on a serious t.v. show as something that happens in the social work fields) in with the new out with the old... i wouldnt be suprised that wedding vow will start ending in "until the papers are signed" as opposed to "til death do we part". advertising stresses the need for disposability as well. how many people buy things based on disposability? i sure know i do!

my husband and i went into our marriage with the full understanding that it was not easy. yes we loved each other and as far as i can tell we still do but we also understood that marriage took more than just love and lust and all of the fun things you get at the start of it and that it is a life long business deal that means hard work for both parties if you are not into the disposable marriage deal our first 5 years of marriage were the worst fives and the BEST five years of our lives together so far. it is unbelievable the stress we went through and things are still stressful but we came to an understanding early that we would work at it. when we lost our second son to still birth a very wise beyond her years nurse told mark and i that the lose of a child can make or break a marriage and not to let it break ours... we took her seriously and it was hard to let my husband in for a long time after that but i had to stop shutting him out and i had to remind myself not to. after we found isaac was autistic we found out that autism needed to be addressed the same way... either you work at the relationship or you lose it when your child is this disabled. anyhow... i guess i am rambling

but if you have the love, the interest, and you are both on the same page in this area, i think the both of you can make it happen. when our family doctor came on board with isaac's autism and still every appt. i have with him he always stresses the finding time for me and my husband away from the kids... even if that means they are asleep upstairs and we are just watching a movie (our typical start to saturday nights... and the rest of the night...? well that depends on how well the kids sleep!)

schedules are a great idea! and respite care is great too if you can get it in your area. but above all i think you just have to work at it. i tell my husband that the hardest thing for me to do is switch between "mom" and "mistress" mode. i dont know about any of your other ladies out there but i know its hard to feel sexy when you have one child trantrum and soiling his pants and the other fussing and spiting up on you and when you finally get them down to bed "mistress" mode has given up and put on the terry cloth robe and fussy pink bunny slippers and "mom" mode has over dosed on coffee and any other caffienated beverage or snack and is ready for the straight jacket that she has so diligently earned!

heehee... i guess i have no more pearls of wisdom just more rant for the pile on this topic but good luck to all and i am sure there is a middle ground that we can all meet our spouses on if only both partners are willing to try.

Old 08-28-2006, 06:06 PM   #8
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sross24 HB User
Re: 80% of parents...


I agree about the mistress mode. Sometimes the men think it's like a switch we can turn on and off. I would much rather be wearing the robe and bunny slippers myself.


Old 08-29-2006, 06:51 AM   #9
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9CatMom HB User
Re: 80% of parents...


I agree about the disposable mentality. People don't want to make commitments. On my cat site, I hear too many stories about abandoned pets. Luckily, the people there, including myself and my family, have taken in pets nobody else wanted. People don't realize that life takes commitment. The same attitude people have toward their pets is the one they take toward the rest of life.

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