There’s no doubt that having kids leaves a huge impact on a marriage or relationship — priorities change, everyone is sleep-deprived and life is a bit more stressful. And when you have a child with special needs, all of these things are amplified — schedules are so busy you often face financial burdens you never anticipated and your stress level is off the charts. But I don’t often hear people talk about how children actually make their relationship stronger and I think that’s something we should talk about as often as we talk about the stress.
So, in celebration of Father’s Day, here’s my personal list of how watching Dilip be a dad to Syona has made me love him a little bit more (cheesy, yes, but I’m allowed on occasion, right?)
- Communication. I think that when you have a child — especially a child with special needs — you need to communicate more often to maintain your marriage. Dilip and I have had some really tough conversations over the past couple of years — moreso than we ever did before we had a child. I also think you tend to be much more honest than before (probably because you are so sleep-deprived that there are less filters.) And I always prefer honest communication, even if it is a bit hard to digest.
- Perspective. Watching Dilip’s perspective change over the course of the past two years has been amazing. My perspective has changed too, but this post is all about him so I’m focusing on that (for once!) He really does accept Syona for exactly who she is and encourages her to be all that she can be. Watching the two of them is like watching a real-life lesson on unconditional love.
- Laughter. Since Syona joined the party, our home is filled with more laughter. She’s a total goofball and we both get a kick out of that.
- Gratitude. Both Dilip and I are way more grateful now. We realize how fortunate we are in so many ways. We have a wonderful family, an incredible daughter, a support system and each other. Life can’t get much better. Plus, we appreciate the little wins each and every day because those are the things that make a difference. Syona walked up and down the hallway in her walker: WIN! We get to spend a half hour on the couch watching a show together at the end of the day: WIN! We only had to wake up three times last night and got to sleep in until 6 a.m.: Uhhhhh… sorry — even I can’t be optimistic about this one.
- Love. Having a child increases your capacity to love. And not just to love that child but to give a little more love to everything and everyone else in your life. It’s a pretty amazing thing.
Relationships aren’t easy, and the added stress of maintaining a relationship when you have a child with special needs can definitely be a challenge. I’m not saying anyone should gloss over the challenges, but I do think that many of the challenges can be faced together as a team. When you do that, you open yourself up to realizing all the ways your relationship has gotten stronger.
What do you think? Tweet me @AnchelK!