Today is my 15th wedding anniversary. I know. I can’t believe it either. To make it this many years is quite an achievement. To say the past years have been challenging is an understatement. It felt like we would make it up one mountain completely exhausted and spent, only to be met with another, more treacherous mountain in its place. If you’re reading this and you have a special needs child, I don’t have to tell you how hard life can be on a daily basis. With the divorce rate skyrocketing among special needs families, I often wonder how we’ve kept it together? What’s our secret to success? Maybe dumb luck. Or a deliberate effort on our part to remain “consciously coupled” (thanks Gwyneth!). Or maybe we were smart enough to not want to get a divorce at the same time.
As I started to write this blog, I started thinking about other couples in our situation. How do you make marriage a priority when your plate is overflowing with responsibilities?
So I asked for some input from some fellow Warrior Moms about this very subject. And I got some really great advice.
1. Intimacy. This was the number one suggestion from almost everyone I asked. You have to find some time to connect with your partner. Sounds impossible, right? I mean who has time for sex? Speaking for myself, my life is pretty routine and about as unsexy as you can get. Trying to plan a romantic evening takes the skill and precision of a military operation. Kids waking up during the night is not unusual. Bathroom trips, blood sugar checks, and general kid-ness can squash even the best laid plans. That 2 AM sex that you and your husband scheduled? Flies right out the window. There’s nothing worse than rounding third base and having one of your kids burst through the door. Try as I might to unleash my inner Beyonce on my unsuspecting husband, realistically he’s lucky if I shave my legs that day. So what can you do to keep the spice in your marriage? Send some racy texts to each other. Try some little things like holding hands during the day. Make sure to acknowledge your partner’s feelings and make them a priority. Here’s the biggie. Try to schedule a date night at least once a month, even if it’s just an hour to get away from the chaos. You might not be able to go full-on Beyonce every time, but making sure you and your partner have some intimacy should definitely be a priority.
2. Fight fair. We’ve all been there. Exhausted. Irritable. Generally feeling
rundown. If we have a rough day/week/year we tend to take our frustrations out on our significant others. I’m certainly guilty of that. Arguments are inevitable, but you have to fight fair. Choose your words carefully. Sometimes you have to be the bigger person and know when to apologize. I’ve had to eat that big piece of humble pie more than once. It’s not easy doing what we do day after day. You have to find healthy ways to deal with the negative emotions and not let it destroy a good relationship. My husband and I like to workout to get out the negativity and come back ready to talk and get to a healthier place.
3. Communication is key. I’ve always had trouble with this one. I tend to close myself in when I’m upset. Totally the wrong thing to do. Unfortunately, I learned some bad habits from watching my parents argue when I was growing up. I have to credit my husband for showing me the right way to express my feelings when I’m stressed, hurt or angry. Open and healthy communication is important. I tend to let things bother me for too long, and then something really small and insignificant will cause me to lose it. Not good. Better communication has been critical in our marriage. We have to be a team when caring for my son. We have no other option. If we want him to be successful, we have to be united and work together.
4. Humor. You can’t sweat the small stuff. Laughter IS the best medicine. Even when you’re surrounded by what feels like the weight of the world on your shoulders, sometimes you have to “fake it ‘til you make it.” My husband and I both love Will Ferrell movies and randomly use quotes from them in the most ridiculous situations. Now when I ask my daughter to clean her room, she’ll tell me, “When in Rome.” Not so cute when she tries to get out of cleaning!
We had one such humorous episode at the doctor’s office. I had been keeping my son occupied with his iPad at his endocrinology appointment. They were extremely busy that morning and we had been waiting about 30 minutes for the doctor to come in. Waiting and autism don’t really go together, so my son was getting antsy. Finally the doctor opens the door and at that moment my son decided to play a video on YouTube. In the dead quiet all you could hear was “Damn, white girl got some ass!” Thanks, Flo Rida, for your insightful lyrics. Brilliant. Try having to have a serious conversation with a doctor after that! I seriously can’t make this stuff up. You can guess what my husband tells me when things are getting a bit stressful and he wants to make me laugh!
So here’s my sage advice for a happy marriage:
–Laugh. But don’t laugh after sex. Guys hate that.
And don’t let your husband know that you write blogs about him on social media
Happy 15 years to my wonderful partner in crime. Here’s to 15 more!