Weddings are easy. I’ve never quite understood all the stress about them. We had a lovely little register office ceremony followed by a meal at a local restaurant for good friends and family.
Marriage though, that’s the hard bit. Marriage, and any other long-term committed relationship, can be full of little niggles. ‘Why doesn’t she ever remember to lock the shed?’ ‘Why can’t he hang his towel up properly?’ ‘She talks in her sleep.’ ‘Oh my word, will his snoring ever stop?’
Ours became harder after having kids. Routines get interrupted by small, demanding bodies and lack of sleep isn’t known for improving rational conversation. Relaxed weekend mornings become a thing of the past. And we weren’t the first couple to realise this new life makes a difference. Many parents struggle to find time for each other.
So when you add a disabled child into the mix and all the emotional stress of a life-limiting disorder, it’s little wonder that many marriages break under the strain. Studies have shown that the risk of divorce or separation is higher for those parenting a disabled child.
I think we’ve both got better recently at looking after ourselves. Hubby has taken to meditating and doing brilliantly at it. (Sometime soon I expect I’ll blink and he’ll have turned into a Buddhist monk.) But amidst the self-care we have to remember to think about each other too.
Yesterday Hubby had a day off work. I was full of cold and very tempted just to go back to bed, but instead I made the effort and we went for a walk. I was so glad we did. The sun was shining and the wind blew away some of my fogginess. We chatted. We listened to the birdsong and laughed at the inescapable smell of cowpats. We took full advantage of the kissing gates. It was even warm enough to eat our lunch outside at the cafe.
Hubby and I have obviously had the occasional meal out or cinema trip once the kids are in bed. But making the time to go out together during the day, felt … more relaxed, more free, more like before having children. A reminder of how important we are to each other.
Recently I wrote a sort of love letter to our doctor, so I guess it’s only fair I write one to you too, Hubby.
I know I find it hard dealing with much of Pudding’s difficult behaviour and appointments myself. But you don’t have an easy life either – working full-time and also having the same emotional strains. I’m glad that we are able to talk things through and I admit that the reason why any relationship niggles don’t last too long is mostly down to you. You are so much better than me at building bridges.
In our marriage vows I promised to be there when you cry and to laugh at your worst jokes. I promised that when we disagree I would do my best to understand you and that when I was hurting I would try to tell you why. I’m not sure I do too well on some of these (you make the jokes one particularly difficult!) but I do think of what I promised quite often. And I do try.
You’re by no means perfect but then neither am I. No matter how grumpy or sulky I get, you should know that I’m glad I’m walking this path with you. I couldn’t have chosen a better husband or father, MPS or no MPS.
Love always, SB xx
For those in the same position looking for more advice and support, Contact (previously Contact a Family) has a great booklet on looking after your relationship while parenting a disabled child.