Smooth Sailing

A couple of articles came across my desk this past week.  Both of them focused on the impact that having a child on the autism spectrum has on a marriage – and ways that the marriage partners could help to strengthen their relationship.  Not exactly rocket science, I thought.  Any couple who is raising a child with a significant disability knows full well that the disability becomes a third partner in the marriage relationship.  Sound familiar?  It sure did to me.
University of Miami researchers recently analysed the factors that predict the relationship satisfaction for moms and dads of kids with ASD.  The traits the researchers analysed included optimism, social and spouse support, and coping styles.  A key finding of the study was this:  the ability to find the good during a bad situation extended to the parents’ romantic relationships. (http://www.eurekatert.ort/org/pub_releases2015-07/uom-pho70717.php)
The other article was more anecdotal but certainly useful.  Tips for making it through the rough patches from a parent’s perspective – and I can attest to their value: (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/julie-m-green/marriage/survive/autism-b-766...)
1.  Present a united front.  Don’t pit one parent against the other.  Common sense but so easy to do.
2. Put autism in its box.  Have ASD-free time where you don’t talk or think or about it.  As the article says, “autism loves the sound of its own voice”.
3. Have each other’s backs.  In other words, recognize when the other partner is too stressed out for words and give them a break.  Sound familiar?
4. If you’re the primary carer, don’t be the boss of your partner when it comes to child care ‘cause it’s so easy to do.
These tips may not salvage a relationship on the rocks but they could help a good one from ending up on the shoals and keep it in calm waters. 

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