For Better or For Worse: How a Marriage Survives Raising a Special Needs Child

Featured Member Post

My husband and I decided to share with you one of many challenges we’ve faced in our marriage and the lessons we learned with hopes to encourage any of you who may find yourself in a similar situation.

Like any good story, I have to start from the beginning. When my son was first diagnosed with mental illness, my husband and I took two very different paths to cope.

August 6, 2009: Late night hands

I went into “fix it” mode. I started researching everything I could about my son’s symptoms. I read many books and was searching for answers in every direction. More than anything, I wanted to talk about it.

My husband on the other hand took a different path to cope. He began mourning the loss of former dreams. At the time, there were no games of catch or playing t-ball with the boys, instead there were only rages and walking on eggshells. And more than anything, my husband did NOT want to talk about it.

For months my poor husband would tolerate me downloading all the drama from the day when he got home from work and he couldn’t wait for us to have anything different to talk about, whereas for me, I felt like we didn’t talk about “it” enough. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Then one night my son went into a violent rage and hurt me. I was destroyed inside. I started to cry and couldn’t stop. My husband on the other hand left for a drive once my son was asleep in bed.

As I sat alone in the house sobbing, I was crushed that my husband wasn’t there to comfort me.

What I didn’t realize in that moment was that my husband was crushed too. As a man, his natural instinct was to protect his woman. If any man had put a finger on his wife, they would’ve faced his wrath. But how does a man cope with the situation when the male that has hurt his wife is his 9-year-old son?

What I didn’t realize that night was that we were both broken and I expected something from my husband that I myself wasn’t capable of giving.

Looking back, I believe my husband did the best thing. By leaving for a drive, it gave him the space to calm down and to straighten out his own conflicting feelings. It gave him the chance to heal, making him strong enough to support me.

Today my husband has the strength to hold me when I’m falling apart and hopefully he feels like he has the space to cope when he needs it.

It’s so easy to blame each another and to unfairly judge one another when your world is being turned upside down. I learned a lot from that night, I learned that though we both suffer from my son’s illness, we’re dealing with different wounds and sometimes we may not be strong enough for one another. That’s why outside support is so important. I’ve also learned that this journey requires us to adjust our expectations and if we remain kind, patient and honest with one another, we can come together much stronger.

As for our different paths, well we’re still human and we’ll always cope differently. But we’re aware of each others' needs and try to bend for one another. So yes, my husband stills tolerates me rambling on with the drama knowing that it helps me and I work on sparing him ALL the details so we might have something new to talk about.

In the end, I know our marriage is stronger for it.

* * *

A special thank you to my amazing husband who was kind enough to “talk about it” so I could present both perspectives in my post! I love you babe!!!!


I’m a mother of 3 young boys, the oldest suffering from Bipolar 1 Disorder. I write a blog to let go of my pain and to help support others by letting them know they’re not alone.

Photo Credit: exalthim.


In order to comment on, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.