Pride and Prejudice, Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Maid in Manhattan, Sweet Home Alabama, Leap Year, While You Were Sleeping, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days these some of the movies I love and could enjoy over and over again. I’m sure you noticed a theme – romance. Yes, I’m a romantic. And not the tragic romantic type either. No Romeo and Juliet or The Notebook for me. So, I’m a romantic and an idealist. I like happy endings. If the tale is brimming with sorrow or the ending tragic, I’m never watching again.
I like idealistic relationships where man meets woman, they learn what the other person is like, some of their quirks, strengths, weaknesses, fall in love and live happily ever after. Yet, this isn’t truly a reflection of real life is it?
Some of it can be true, especially all the way up to the happily ever after part. But, that part is the hardest. Because “ever after” encompasses years or decades and is usually when the really hard stuff happens, all the stuff of daily life like making a living, raising kids, really learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses and how to mesh yours and his together in a way that works for both of you.
If you add a child or two with disabilities to the mix, that’s a recipe for more stress and burden on a relationship. And if both spouses aren’t committed to the better or worse part of it, it can quickly come to The End.
How do we live out “happily ever after” when the unexpected challenges of a child with additional needs are added to our marriage? It’s simple, but not easy. It goes back to what every relationship needs: attention, time, less selfishness, looking for ways to communicate love and care to your spouse.
I don’t know about you, but it has been easy for me to overlook the needs of my husband because I got so consumed with the needs of our kids, especially when our youngest was in crisis. Crisis for him lasted for years. Yet, if we neglect to care for the relationship with our spouse, it won’t survive, or at least won’t be healthy and all that it could be. At most, it might quality for “ever after”, but without the “happily.”
If you, like me, have neglected your spouse, I’d encourage you to find some way of letting him know you appreciate and respect him for who he is and what he does.
Here’s a few ideas:
1. You make the arrangements for a date night he’ll enjoy, whether that’s going out or staying in.
2. Get a candy kiss (or bag of chocolate covered coffee beans) and put it on his pillow with a note that says one or two reasons you respect and love him (i.e. “I respect you for continuing to show up to face the responsibilities of this family. You’re an amazing man, husband, and father.”)
3. Text him during the day while he’s at work just to let him know you’re thinking of him and appreciate what a hard worker he is.
4. Slip a short love note in his underwear so when he goes to get dressed in the morning he has a nice surprise to start his day and knows he’s been thought of. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Small sticky notes work well.
Pick one that fits your family and, even better, your husband’s love language! What ideas have you tried with success?
Written by Sarah McGuire, Co-Founder of Hope Anew