Love and Marriage

 (note: This photo was taken after our family photo was an epic fail so we decided to embarrass our kids. Feel free to say, “eeww, groooooss.”)

I had a conversation with a friend recently regarding marriage. While I acknowledged the occasional desire to head for the hills (beach, really, in Greece, specifically) he said, “Yes, but you have a lot of stress in your marriage.” He was referring to raising Aidan. While this is true, I don’t think for a second that it’s more stress than other people have. It may be different, or more visible, or make me look more like a saint (which I’m not), but it doesn’t give me an out. Your issues are stressful because they are yours. Doesn’t matter what they look like compared to mine.

The first year of Aidan’s life, Garreth and I went to a conference where I heard the statistic that over 80% of couples raising a child with a disability end up divorced. It may be one of those urban myth numbers, but that’s not the point. I heard it, and it scared the hell out of me. My first response was to quit while we were ahead. My next and lasting response has been to cling to our commitment with every fiber of my being. If I ended up on a Greek island with a cabana boy and drinks with umbrellas never to return, would you say, “I get it. I’d do it too if I were in her shoes?” See, that’s not ok. Aidan is most certainly not a Get Out of Vows Free card. He’s my son, sometimes a huge challenge, often a blessing, but always part of our family.

My friend, who is struggling with painful issues, said that he’d rather face his impending divorce than deal with Aidan’s seizures.  This hit me hard and I couldn’t quite process it.  I appreciate that in his inept way he was attempting to show compassion. Part of me wanted to scream that my child isn’t a tragedy, that he is not a result of anyone’s bad choices, that though we struggle with loss we do it together. Perhaps our society’s low expectations mixed with an economy that makes it difficult to get services for families like ours support the marriage decline. What if we lived in a community of people who get involved in each other’s lives, who encourage each other to be better, surrounded by abundant examples of following through on commitment? I’m thinking that would help both my friend and me.

All of this being said, I read an article recently that stated that couples raising kids with disabilities actually have a better fighting chance, because the skills they need for a strong marriage are constantly being sharpened as they care for their children: communication has to be tight, conflict resolution is happening all the time, sharing responsibilities is a must.

In it to win it, luv. Pinky swear.

Shared at Joy in this Journey and Women Living Well

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15 thoughts on “Love and Marriage

  1. Your posts continue to give me goosebumps. I think it’s important to acknowledge the marriages that do “succeed” and thrive through the “challenges” of the CSHN world and the power of this. It’s a big conversation, about the lack of dads in this work, but it’s a vicious cycle, when there is nothing done to engage them or give them support through the rough times. I heart you guys, and commend you (like my own family) for the strength and bonds that you keep through the ups and downs ❤

  2. Wow. I’m not married, nor do I have kids, but the fear you expressed resonates deeply. So much so that at points I jokingly threaten celibacy. But, your willingness to face the challenge, a great challenge at that, reminds me marriage is worth, warts and all. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. heather, thank you so much for sharing — there is so much that i can relate to here with my own family’s health journey. in fact, do you remember the article that you referred to at the end (re: parents of a child w/ a disability having a better fighting chance)? if so, would you mind sharing the link?

    your heart-felt post here reminds me so much of this wonderful quote that i recently discovered amidst my own processing of our family’s health journey:
    “It is true that He does sometimes require of us things that to others seem hard. But when the will is once surrendered, the revolutionized life plans become just the plans that are most pleasant, & the things that to others seem hard, are just the things that are easiest & most delightful. Do not let Satan deceive you into being afraid of God’s plans for your life.” ~ R. A. Torrey

    don’t you just love that??

    thanks again for sharing, & as Jesus reminds us in john 9, these health circumstances are so that the works of God be displayed in & through them! may it be SO, Lord! may it be so . . .

    blessings to you, fellow sojourner,
    tanya

  4. Ewwwwwww, gross! (I love that you are laughing under the smooch!)
    We’ll have to agree to disagree here, because I think that you (and yes, I) DO have more stress in raising sons that have seizures, require total care, etc. than the average family does. How much of our days and weeks do we spend JUST on advocacy for them–something most parents don’t ever even have to think about? I think you’re so humble and selfless that you choose not to see it in even a remotely negative way. So, with all due respect, I hope you can take some EXTRA CREDIT where it is due, Warrior Momma. And thank you to both of you for being a marital inspiration for couples with both challenged AND healthy children.

  5. As someone who was there when your love story began, I am not surprised at all. You and Garreth had the best foundation for a marriage – communication, faith in each other, and respect while encouraging each other to grow. I’ll never forget how beautiful the two of you looked at the wedding and I was sure you would face all obstacles with love, grace and optimism. God chose the best parents and sibling for Aidan!

  6. Tanya – Oh how I wish I had saved that article. I’m slowly learning how to do this right. In lieu of the original, here are some other great pieces I found. http://specialchildren.about.com/b/2011/03/10/readers-share-how-special-needs-strengthened-their-marriage.htm Thanks for the encouragement.

    Michelle – You know me well enough to know I’m not as humble as I sound and yes, I’ll take the extra credit with you. I’m just also quick to realize I know nothing about the tremendous pain of infertility, miscarriages, adultery or the myriad of other challenges marriages face.

    Rhonda – You were there and you SANG me into wedded bliss and that’s probably why Garreth and I totally rock!

  7. Reply from BlogMaster Uncle Joshy in China:
    We all handle the stress differently. And I think people like my sister Heather are so compassionate and amazing that they suck up their own stress so as not to make anyone else’s stress seem insignificant. And you are so strong that you don’t let the stress weigh you down. Instead, you see the bright side of things. I’m sure that’s not always what goes through your mind, but I know it’s what’s in your heart.

    And I’m so happy that you and Garreth have fought for your marriage. It gives people like me some sort of hope.

  8. Our kiddo had some serious medical problems during his second year of life. And as stressful as they were and absolutely horrible, I agree with you in that we had to figure out a way to get through it together. I honestly think that because our life together has been so hard (it’s gotten easier lately) that there’s not much we couldn’t handle.

  9. Honestly, I wish this subject was
    Discussed more often. I am thankful
    For your comment on how facing
    Your challenges with Aiden ACTUALLY
    SHARPEN your skills when it comes to
    Marriage.

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