Can a Single Parent of a Special Needs Child Find Love, too?
Romantic love and wedded bliss are everywhere! From books and magazines, to television and movies, you can’t escape the sights and sounds of couples in love. You can hear them dedicating sappy love songs to one another on the radio (do people REALLY do that?), you see them on romantic dates in restaurants, they are holding hands at amusement parks, they are strangers, they are your friends, your relatives, your work buddies. But you, a single parent to a special needs child, are somehow on the sidelines watching and wondering if you and your child will ever have a true and permanent love in your lives, too.
As I was researching the mystery of love and relationships, of what drives couples apart, and what holds them together, etc., I found myself talking with relationship and family counselors, therapists, married couples with special needs children, divorced couples with special needs kids, a pastor, a rabbi, families I didn’t know but who I encountered at various events I attended, etc. I will share the highlights of what I learned from these experts about making a relationship work—whether you have typical or non-typical children—and maybe, just maybe, you will find yourself inspired to hop on your own path toward true and permanent love. Here’s what they say:
It’s Just a Matter of Time. You HAVE to spend time together. Even though we are all so busy with work, with running our kids to various therapies, with maintaining a home, helping with school work, etc., both parties in a romantic relationship MUST find the time to BE in the relationship. And that includes time for the two of you AND time together with the children as well. If either of you work to the extreme or keep so busy that you are neglecting the other person, or that you can’t even find 15 minutes to talk every day, you just may have some past personal issues you need to take care of first. Make sure you do that. If you let this lack of time for each other linger on, you are on your way to losing each other forever. (Do you really want to grow old alone and never have genuine love in your life?) In my research, I saw first-hand many couples with unbelievable issues with their blended children and who also worked, ran their kids to various therapies and doctors, yet THEIR relationship was important enough to FIND ways to be together. Happily. And they made it work!
Communicate, don’t try to escape! You vowed in the beginning of a relationship to always be open and honest with one another. WHAT HAPPENED? If something within the relationship or something about the other person or the child is an issue, you don’t just disappear or refrain from talking about it. You discuss it in a RESPECTFUL and loving way and, in a REAL relationship, you both contribute and COMPROMISE and agree how the two of you will work through the issue. Also, don’t communicate only if there are issues. You can tell the other person in the relationship EVERY day that you are glad they are in your life, what is great about the relationship, how you value their love and friendship, etc.
Respect. At all times, you MUST treat the other person with respect. Even if you don’t agree with something, you do not yell, you don’t leave and not return, you don’t stop calling for weeks or stop making contact. You LISTEN. And you let the other person know that you will listen and they can talk with you about anything without fear and with an open mind and an open heart.
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