Raising children with developmental, emotional, behavioral or medical special needs inarguably impacts a marriage. The manner in which it changes, however, is not determined by the nature or severity of the child's disorder nor even by the number of children with disabilities in a family; the impact is determined by the manner in which the couple handles intensive child-rearing demands and related stressors. Juggling the seemingly endless logistical and emotional issues associated with parenting children with special needs can cause couples to make their relationship much less of a priority. The couples that do well under these circumstances are those who find ways to stay connected to each other. One successful couple describes their experience like this: "We work as a team, give each other breaks and realize that we are in this together; we share our joys and disappointments." Make the decision together that your marriage is worth protecting no matter how great your child's needs are. There are many ways a couple can strengthen their marriage under the kinds of extreme demands they encounter. This tip sheet highlights effective principles and strategies. (Author abstract)
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