Written by: Graham Honeycutt
Conduct a quick Google search on the divorce rate among families with a special needs child and you will quickly find a plethora of articles that show the divorce rate is higher than the national average. Similarly, run one on the divorce rate among families with twins or multiples and you will also see a similar result. These statistics are understandable when considering the difficulties that come with these types of family dynamics.
My wife and I have experienced both, and our marriage lives to tell. We have a 4-year-old daughter named Mikayla who has significant special needs: a rare congenital brain malformation called Dandy Walker syndrome. This means she requires considerable care, therapies and medical attention. We also have 2-year-old twin daughters named Ainsley and Hailey who are typically developing, but keep us running until we collapse.
My wife and I have significant risk factors for divorce. We choose to make a very concerted effort to keep our marriage intact despite our significant challenges. We have learned some tricks along the way, and I would like to share them with you in hopes of helping your marriage.
We Get Remarried Every Day
When did my wife and I get married? This morning. Marriage is not one day in your life. It is every day for the rest of your life. My wife and I get remarried every day. Every day is a continual choice to get married and stay that way. It is not always roses and rainbows, but that continual reminder of getting remarried every day helps us to remember that our marriage is a priority.
Communication is Our Love Language
You may have heard of the best-selling book by Gary Chapman called “The Five Love Languages.” As much as we enjoyed reading this, we have found that our love language is communication – a language not outlined in the book.
My wife and I communicate constantly about everything we experience.
We check in often with how each other is doing. We even have a weekly meeting to talk about our schedule, meals for the week, finances, future goals, and frustrations. This allows us to stay on the same page.
We Are Open About Our Struggles
We remain open about our struggles with each other. If we are frustrated with each other or just in general, we keep an open line of communication about it. We don’t try to mask or hide it from each other. This creates a genuine connection with each other and allows us to be real with each other.
We Have a Strong Community
Even with all we have going on, we make sure to maintain a strong community. We stay involved with groups of like-minded individuals, such as small church groups, book clubs and friends with whom we can share our story honestly.
We Create Clear Boundaries
We set clear boundaries around our time and schedule. We say no a lot of things that are good things, but aren’t the most important things in life. This is hard for two people pleasers like us, but we have found over time we have become more confident in saying no and staying focused on the most essential things in life.
We Prioritize Our Marriage Above Our Children
We prioritize our relationship over our kids. We love our kids very much, but the best way to ensure they have a bright future is to model for them what a good marriage looks like. As parents, we also have to prioritize time for self-care because we can’t give what we don’t have. If we don’t have stability, harmony and patience, then we won’t be able to provide this for our children.
Maintaining a strong marriage is a cornerstone for achievement in life. I hope these tips help strengthen your marriage, just as they have strengthened ours.