You’ve heard the warnings. People have told you that you’re more likely to divorce if you and your spouse have a child who has special needs. You’ve seen the statistics.
Now you feel like your marriage is, in fact, moving in that direction. It’s coming apart. You’re wondering why this happens. Maybe you’re trying to find a way to save it. Maybe you just want to know why these stats hold true so that you can be ready for life after the split.
Either way, below are five reasons that parents in your situation split up. While every relationship is different, you may find that some — or more than one — apply to you.
1. Children need a ton of attention.
This can be stressful. Having any child means that a certain amount of your energy has to go toward that child. The total amount is higher when your child has special needs. This can sap your energy and hurt your marriage, even when you’re trying to do the right thing by putting the child first.
2. Parents forget about each other.
You and your spouse decided to get married. You may have spent years together, with that being the only real relationship that mattered, before your child was born. When a child with special needs takes so much energy and needs so much attention, parents often stop putting work into their own relationship.
3. You run out of time.
It’s hard to balance work and family life. A child with special needs may require constant supervision and medical care. This eats into your time even more. If you add in your daily commute and trips to the gym and the grocery store, you may be entirely out of time. Not only do you lose your hobbies, but you lose time with your spouse.
4. Parents blame each other for stress and other issues.
Things are going to go wrong from time to time. There is going to be more stress on your family. Parents often blame one another, just needing some way to vent. This can be destructive.
5. Parents don’t communicate.
When life gets challenging, parents stop communicating. They stop talking. They don’t express their concerns, needs, wants and desires. When they have fights, they just grit their teeth and try to swallow their feelings. Communication is critical in any relationship. When a child has special needs, it’s even more important.
So, now you know why the divorce rate is so high for parents of special needs children. Does that mean you can avoid the divorce?
It may not. This is a challenging situation, and the rates remain high for a reason. The key is to always focus on understanding your rights, your child’s rights, and the child’s best interests, no matter what twists and turns life takes.