Oh, how I love my Dirty Gentleman. Marriage has been hard, but through it all, I have loved him and he has loved me. We are still succeeding together so I feel like we have done something right. It hasn’t been a ridiculously long time that we’ve been married, but in our short time together, we have been through what takes most couples 10-15 years or so. We got married on a beautiful, warm and slightly stormy October morning. The skies weren’t sure what to do, so they ended up being a gorgeous background for most of it. I mean honestly check out this backdrop!
Marriage is hard
I know, I know, everyone tells you that. It’s not in the way you expect though. I had kids before we met. So I knew that we would have to get on the same board as far as parenting goes. I moved into Dirty Gentleman’s house the month he proposed to me. It was a CRAZY month. He had a house full of stuff, I had a house full of stuff, he had roommates that left stuff there. It was a lot to go through and get rid of. But we managed. I moved into his home in December and by the end of January, we had pretty much settled. The first few months we lived together we fought over the dumb little things couples fight about. I wanted the toaster put away each day in the cupboard, he wanted it out. I wanted coffee kept away in the cupboard he wanted it out haha. Obviously, I like everything cleared off my counters and he likes to leave things we use each day out. Those were the things that were easy to get through. The things that teach you how to communicate with each other respectfully and properly.
It’s when things like, raising children and agreeing on purchasing homes and vehicles come into play that it gets a little harder to navigate. Beliefs and values start to play into things as well. You’d think these would’ve been things discussed before marriage, and they were. But living them is different than discussing them. Respect and proper communication are key! Also, they are really hard haha. But now that we had those things worked out, life happened.
Bring in the kids and kick out the sleep
Exhausted doesn’t even begin to describe it. My pregnancy with Little Miss Psychopath was so difficult. IUGR (Intrauterine Growth Restriction) was being looked for because I was missing a hormone that helps prevent it. In my third trimester I got put on bedrest, Sir.E was having problems at school, he wasn’t diagnosed yet, and Designer Diva was at home with me. I was due in March, but by January I was done. Tired of driving up to the hospital for stress tests and ultrasounds, and just plain tired in general. She was taken via C-section on February 7th, at 36.5 weeks. It was stressful and I was exhausted. She had a hard time nursing and ended up having reflux, which was torture, especially having a kid in school. Having to get up in the mornings and get Sir.E ready was also torturing at that time in our lives. Dirty Gentleman was working a crap job so we didn’t have much income and that was stressful as well. We had also just finalized him adopting my two older kids and had to pay off a legal bill for that. On top of everything, Little Miss Psychopath was sick and in and out of the hospital the first fall and winter she was born. Did I mention Sir.E got his diagnosis that fall as well? When I look back to that time in our lives, I’m honestly surprised we came out the other side together. Eventually, we moved Little Miss Psychopath in Designer Diva’s room, that sucked just as bad as having her in our room, but it was needed for my sanity. A very sleepy Designer Diva started kindergarten the fall that Little Miss Psychopath got sick and Sir.E got diagnosed. It was a lot to have going on. I remember sitting in our social worker’s office on my own with a screaming sick baby just crying trying to understand everything.
Special Needs in a marriage
Dirty Gentleman didn’t want to except Sir.E’s diagnosis, see the post Coming apart at the seams to read about their struggles even before a diagnosis. It only got worse after they diagnosed him. Dirty Gentleman didn’t want Sir.E to have an excuse to not try. He was worried that Sir.E only got a diagnosis because it was the new “thing” not because he was actually Autistic. For a long time, we were not on the same page parenting wise. We weren’t even in the same book! I was angry at Dirty Gentleman for being so hard on Sir.E, and he was frustrated with himself for not understanding. It took a LONG time for him to grow and understand Sir.E. But the point is that he did. He worked on it and continues to work on it. It’s hard to have a special needs child in a marriage, especially if one parent isn’t on board with the diagnosis at first, which is actually quite common. After a lot of long hours, Dirty Gentleman saw the therapy begin to make a difference. That was one of the things that brought him into my book. We still have times where I have to remind him, and vice versa, that positive reinforcement works better than negative consequences, but he has done amazingly, I couldn’t be prouder of the father he is and how hard he worked to be that father. By the time Little Miss Psychopath was diagnosed, he knew that we would use ABA therapy and that positive reinforcement would be used with her too. She is very different than Sir.E though. She is very on the surface and Sir.E’s the opposite. It’s been a learning curve with her as well, but at least we were able to start at the same point with Little Miss Psychopath. In the past few years we’ve also gone through my illness together, but that’s for another post :).
The things we did
We tried a lot of different things to try and work through all this together. I’m a firm believer in respect for your spouse, but sometimes I screamed anyway. That didn’t help! But something that did was making a point of making Dirty Gentleman talk to me. We’d sit and play cards or have a drink on the deck after the kids were in bed, and we would just talk. Not about the kids, or the diagnosis, or how many times the school phoned. Just about things we liked and learned. We would connect again. This is a total must in a marriage, especially when things get really crazy and stressful. We were ourselves together when we could be. This didn’t involve going out much or getting away together because we were totally broke! It had to be creative and it had to work because the amount of time we ACTUALLY got together uninterrupted was a really tiny amount. Sometimes I had to force him to do it, and sometimes he gladly participated haha, and I did my best not to take any offence to that.
Things that don’t work become obvious the minute you do them. We worked hard to avoid things that didn’t help. Things like blame, negativity and bringing up past failures and mistakes. It seems obvious, but when you’re living under this much stress and chaos it’s hard to not do those things. You just want a reason. But sometimes, you just don’t get one, or it comes when you don’t need it anymore.
These are things that helped us, maybe they can help you in a stressful time too, or as special needs parents trying to work through it together. I hope you enjoyed it! Have some more tips for me? Please leave them in the comments section, I’m always looking for new things for us to try to help with stressful situations and be a stronger couple.