Sunday, October 3, 2010

This Married Life

Anyone else think from time to time that being married is a P I T A ???

I was undecided about whether to publish this post as it is a bit of a taboo topic, but I feel that I have been holding back while blogging, and I don't see the point of that.  Of late the topics I have blogged about have been fairly lightweight. Nothing meaty.  Nothing particularly insightful.  However, that isn't because there has been nothing going on.  There has been plenty going on.  It is just something that I am unsure of whether I should blog about.

So, here goes.

Murray and I are having ....  wait for it ... couples counselling.

I hate it.

Its nearly as bad as root canal, and is adding to my stress levels like you wouldn't believe.

We have got to the point however, where it is very hard to parent / cohabit / whatever, as we are so NOT on the same page. About anything.  Something needs to change.  Things need to improve.

So...counselling it is.

Is anyone else game to open up on this subject???

Rumour has it, that the divorce rate for families of a child with a disability is DOUBLE that of the general population.  I don't know if that is true or if it is a 'disability urban myth'.  If the general population's divorce rate is already 40%, that puts us parents of special needs kids in strife.

Do you think having a child with a disability has affected your marriage?  If so, how?

I think for us it has just worsened things that were weaknesses before, but with less stress we might have been able to let them slide.  I remember reading somewhere - can't remember whose blog - about how over time it is very easy for a couple to fall into the trap of one person doing all of the work - and gradually becoming increasingly resentful.  That so describes me.  But for me it is not just about the physical support, it is the lack of emotional support.  I don't feel that Murray is able to support me.  He is too in need of support himself - support that I can't give as I have nothing left to give by the time I have done everything for the children.

I don't know what the answer is.

Hopefully this counsellor will have some ideas.  She seems like she knows what she is doing.  Doesn't mean I have to like it though.

Because this is one of those topics that no one talks about it makes me wonder....  Is it just us???  Or are other people in the same boat? And if you're NOT in this boat...what is your secret?


Sarah said...

Oh Alison...can of worms...

I think it would almost be unheard of for any couple parenting a child with special needs to be breezing along the same they were before.

I think it definately has a huge strain on our relationship. Not only with the appts, ops, treatments, dressing, feeding etc etc that you know you wouldn't need to do for any of your other kids at the same age!

I get very frustrated as I don't have the physical or emotional help either. His response is always " you want to do my job?" well no I don't but I would love to be back at work, having a "normal" life and "normal" conversations.

As you, I go to all my appts, treatments, therapies etc on my own. I would love one day for him to come and help hold his daughter down during any of these.
I would love to come home at the end of my busy day and have dinner on the table and the kids bathed...

I get resentful as you said you do. I am always the person making the decisions and when I ask advice he just shrugs his shoulders and say "I dont' know!"

I think we co-exist reasonably well only because I have given up and figure it is easier to say nothing and continue the struggle...there is no way he would do counselling, as he hates it!

Saying all that he is a good Dad and all but just doesn't do enough in the decisions, support and management of little miss V.

Missy said...

No Alison, it's not just you at all. However some how we have just fallen on the same page. Every now and then we have a bit of a stess blow up but mostly we cope. There is definitely added stress, more than I assume normal couples without a child with a disability would experience. I know that my husband is probably the "healthy" one emotionally whose job it is to keep me from flipping out and falling to pieces and he is forever at me not to keep things bottled up.

I think you are right though, we are not alone. I posted on EB once about the very same thing and the answers were overwhelming, right down to couples getting divorced due to their childs disability. I find that so sad.
Good luck with counselling and I hope that you do find the same page some time soon xxx

ijogthereforeiblog said...

I think it comes down to stress. i don't have a child. But i did once have a husband and Alison, I hear you on the hating counselling thing. Strangely, the thing my ex husband and i COULD agree on was how much we hated the situation!! It's so confronting and often uncomfortable but even these feelings educate us a teeny bit on what we are carrying into our interactions. So even the hating is good! Just take notice of where the hating is coming from.

Louise said...

Not just you but like Missy we have been lucky to fall on the same page. For us, I think the main reason is that we have a very equal balancing of outside work, childcare and household tasks. DH was the one at home for a period, and both of us have been able to arrange work-from-home/part-time work and this made a huge difference. When first diagnosed (and right through really) I have been the main researcher and follow-upper of appointments/EI etc etc and this felt hard at first, a disconnect between us. However, EI fell on DHs days for quite a while and he does his share of appointments - even if I need to make sure he knows what I want said/done! Due to this, in some ways I think it's made us stronger - when one of us mentions some little thing or sign of progress, we know the other one really "gets it" and we can bounce concerns or ideas off each other. That said, the sheer time involved in looking after our kids mean that there's not much energy left over for "us" - not sure how much the SNs add to this.

Nerida said...

Oh Alison, I wish you told me about this on Friday when I was over. I don't know what to say but I hope counselling helps you both. N xx

Rosalie said...

I hope the counselling helps you guys, we had a really hard time before and thankfully worked through things.

I really think it helps when they are at appointments, which he is most of the time due to now working from home.

It is very easy for men to forget about that stuff when they don't see it and are dealing with in constantly.

Big hugsxx

Amanda Daybyday said...

I HATE counseling. One of the requirements for my oldest's counseling is that mom and dad come for counseling too. So hubby and I would go once a month or so. My crippling anxiety trumped our marriage however, so now just I go. Which is a good thing because I think his reaction to counseling would actually hurt our relationship more than help it. Things are ok between us right now, but that statistic is always in the back of my mind because I'm not sure it would take that much to push us over the edge. It terrifies me. I'm sorry things are tough right now, I hope the counseling helps.

Big brother, Little sister. said...

Alison, thankyou for posting this and being so honest and now as Sarah said let the worm can open! ;)

Well first of all I am not legally married in Australia only in Vietnam! and honestly I am more than happy to keep it that way after I keep hearing of marriage breakdowns.

I think being in a partnership is hard, parenting is hard and having a child with a disability is pretty hard and add all those together and its damn hard.

I need counselling , I don;t do it enough as I have that fear of bawlling my eyes out and don;t really like talking through a blubbering mess. I like the idea of going alone so that I can use someone partial as a sounding board as I am sure Andrew does not need to hear it all.

I think it also depends on your personality within the situation and how you deal with things.

I think you need someone in your life to support the areas you feel are lacking but not necessarily rely on the same person ( Murray) to cover all those emotions if that makes sense.

I also think you have to make time to do something together, just the two of you with no's really easy to say you are tired, you cannot find a trusted carer, you have no money etc etc....Gee I am the queen of excuses! lol ....but when I make an effort the realtionship really really benefits.

Keep on talking to us, to your friends and family and to Murray. I wish you so much happiness and really hope you feel on the same page and well supported very very soon.

Love bron xoxox

Anna said...

I have been trying to think of a way to reply succinctly. But can't seem to.
So. I won't write a novel. But will post on my blog at some stage a peice I wrote about Carer Relationships for a workshop we ran.

Good Luck with the counselling. It is so hard to take that step, but hopefully the counsellor can help you guys remember why you fell in love in the first place!

Thinking of you xox

Anonymous said...

Good on you Alison for bringing this up! I love your honesty. But sorry to hear of the challenges you're facing :-(

Seeing as I married an Indonesian Muslim who I met in the middle of the jungle, I guess I was already set up for a marriage that wasn't going to be 'normal'. The break up rates for these couples are also very high.

But we seem to get by OK.

I could also write a novel on the topic, but suffice to say we cope because I have very low expectations of involvement in the therapy side of things. We're also lucky enough to have Aunty J who helps take up the slack.

Good luck with the counseling. I hope it helps.


Alicia D said...

thank you for being honest and brave enough to post something like this. You've made yourself vulnerable but in doing so you are articulating what i believe happens in MANY more relationships than people are letting on!

In my first marriage, there was a lot of what you described going on. We had one daughter who began a serious seizure disorder at 3 months old and then was diagnosed with autism and cognitive impairments at 2. We began couples counseling when she was around 4-5 and ended up divorcing about a year later.

I do believe the stats on increased divorced rates in families where there is a disabled child is accurate (from my research). In my case, the marriage to my first husband was not the strongest to begin with - we basically married bc i was knocked up and i dont think i ever really loved him the way i should have. Enter: huge stressor of a special child... this added an enormous burden to a marriage that MIGHT have made it otherwise, despite the fact that we really werent "made for each other." With a typical child, we could have glossed over our different styles, but not with an atypical child, ya know?

Every situation is different. Sometimes you just need an unbiased, professional "party" to help you resolve the "distribution of childcare" and learn different styles of communication. having a special child puts a burden on even the strongest relationships. I do believe (as a former psychologist/counselor myself) that all it takes is for BOTH people to want to make it work. once one is half way out the door, usually the relationship comes to an end. marriage is always hard work... and its harder work when life throws you curve balls. but, when both people are invested and love each other, they can move mountains :)

good luck!!! All my best wishes and thoughts are with you :)

ferfischer said...

I agree with Sarah - can of worms. Let's just say that I am EXACTLY where you are. Minus the counseling. I don't know what to do. I don't even know how to find the time or a person for counseling, and in the meantime, we are co-existing and things aren't getting worse, but they aren't getting better. I really know - I really do. Let me into your secrets if they work.

Johnna said...

I follow you from Special Exposure Wednesday, and admire your honesty. It certainly is a hot topic, and as a wife who has an older child with a disability (and who has been traveling the road a little longer), I must say that when the children are young, it is SO hard! You have more demands physically (and a lot going on with your daughter), it seems like there is no couple time and the relationship gets stagnant, routine, mundane. Something you might want to look into is the Love/Dare; I know several couples who have done it with great benefit. (Sometimes only one person follows it without the other's knowledge.) It seems like a lot of "dying to self", but then light bulbs come on and often mysteriously wonderful things happen. If you are interested, go to