* Experience joy. Finding ways to experience joy as a family is essential, even if it seems very challenging to do so. Locating accessible trip destinations, programs that take into account the needs of children with disabilities, and sensory friendly recreation opportunities – help couples and children create positive associations and fun family memories which can get them through the difficult times.
* Seek support. Services, support and as much respite as possible are not luxuries. They are necessary to keep families functioning and marriages healthy and thriving.
In conclusion, couples who parent children with disabilities deserve compassion and understanding of the unique challenges that they face on a daily basis. Family, community members and professionals who interact with them, should strive to provide extra support in meeting those challenges, thereby strengthening their marriages and entire families in the process.
About the Author:Tzivy Ross Reiter, LCSW-R, is a Director at Ohel Bais Ezra and an advisor to Building Blocks Magazine. She has written extensively about issues related to developmental disabilities and mental health. She is also the author of “Briefcases & Baby Bottles: The Working Mother’s Guide to Nurturing a Jewish Home; Feldheim, 2012.”
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There has been much made in the media about the stress on marriage and the high rates of divorce affecting couples who have a child with a developmental disability. Yet at the same time, counter studies have been published that refute many of these claims – reporting that this data has been exaggerated and that these families do not have a significantly higher divorce rate.
A friend of mine called me recently on her way home from a date. It was 11:30 p.m., and she was walking home from the subway, a 20-minute walk from her home. She said that she had a pleasant time, but was surprised when her date walked her to the subway at the end of the evening and said good night at 11 p.m. “Doesn’t he realize that at this late hour he should be escorting me home?” she cried.