Guest blogger Amy Stout is back again today to address an issue parents of children with special needs often neglect – connecting with their spouse. In this post, she gives three more tips to help spouses connect despite their care giving duties.
Don’t Be So Serious
Learn how to laugh at yourself. Some of the things that seem so pressing in our every day simply aren’t. For example, my husband has a car that really frustrates him. Three of the four doors don’t open from the outside. The driver’s window doesn’t roll down. The car has no heat or air conditioning. It is a pitiful situation. But, while my husband is super frustrated about the situation, I think it is hilarious! This man has some seriously funny stories to tell because of that junk heap on wheels. Someday, I know he will also think it is funny- we will have many laughs in our rocking chair years because of it! (Right now he calls it the humble mobile.)
I once read a book based on the concept of Praise the Lord anyway!
Our second car may be a humble mobile but praise the Lord anyway because it runs.
Our car has no heat but praise the Lord anyway because we aren’t sleeping in the weather!
I sure wish I remembered the name or author of that book, because I’d love to recommend it to everyone- it really changed my life and my perspective on hard times.
Foster Interests and Shared Experiences
Try to find activities that you can do together. Is your husband a football fanatic? Throw a Super Bowl party. Does your wife love to cook? Take a Chinese cooking class together. Always be willing and eager to learn and grow through your spouse. If you can’t possibly actively participate in their interest, then just be there.
My husband and I learned early on that compromise is the key to a happy marriage. Dan loves March Madness. (In our first year of marriage he was super excited for March Madness – so was I cause I thought we were going shopping. I had never heard of the college basketball tournaments- I got educated real quick!) While I don’t really get into the basketball games, I have learned to enjoy filling out the brackets – and mine usually triumph over his – heh, heh, heh. It’s even better when we have a little marital wager on the line. To keep us both happy, Dan will set up our smaller TV in the living room right next to our main TV. On one TV, we will broadcast the games and on the other TV, we can watch the news, movies or whatever the rest of the family enjoys. It has worked fabulously for over 19 years. My hubby is brilliant and wisely knows how to invest in his martial happiness bank!
Don’t Let Being Broke Become a Barrier
My husband went through a recent season of unemployment that spanned a 2 year time frame. Things were TOUGH. However, that didn’t mean we stopped investing in our relationship or bonding with one another. We just had to get more creative. One of our favorite ways to do this was creating a drive-in movie date. While Kylie was having fun with her respite provider, we rented a $1 movie from the local convenient movie box, popped popcorn, poured cold glasses of soda and sat in our car in the driveway and watched our movie on my daughter’s portable DVD player. We were alone. I was quiet. It was dark, and we had a blast trying to steady the DVD player on the dash while not spilling popcorn or soda. We created a memory on a dime and you can do it too!!
There are so many tips I could add, but the most important thing is loving each other. And I’m not talking flowers and chocolates.
I John 4:7 says that love comes from God. If we don’t know God, we don’t know love. We need to follow God’s example where true love is concerned. This means loving each other sacrificially, unconditionally and honestly. Love is esteeming the individual of our affection better/more than ourselves- setting our own needs aside to meet their needs.
Think of a cupcake. Love is the cake foundation and romance is the frosting and sprinkles! The frosting and sprinkles won’t mean anything if we don’t have the foundation. Frosting and sprinkles are not near as tasty sitting on a paper plate as they are on a cupcake. A truly scrumptious dessert has the combined balance of cake and frosting.
I know this is especially difficult with a situation that involves care giving. Sometimes, this kind of love isn’t sweet or pretty, sometimes it is pretty stinky. I am thinking of all the poo I clean up. But God says it is love.
Care giving is a painting of love like no other. Every task you do adds a brush stroke to the masterpiece God is creating in you. Are your colors vibrant and true? Are they blurred and sloppy? Or, dare I wonder, not there at all? The exciting thing is that we have a choice. We get to decide what our painting will look like! We get to be the artist of our own relationships! I encourage you to pick up that paintbrush and paint your canvas with purpose and meaning. Set your heart and mind to leave a mark on this world that will impact generations to come. Strive to make it a masterpiece.
Determine that you won’t be a statistic.
Determine that you will make a difference for something that is truly meaningful!
Determine that you will love expecting nothing in return.
Then you will know what it is to love well. To be obedient to a calling that is greater than any of us can achieve on our own. To know contentment and meaning in our lives and experience a fullness of joy and peace in our hearts. It is worth it. I can assure you with confidence; it is most definitely worth it!
How Do You Love Well?
There you have them. Amy’s six tips (see the first three in Part 1) for connecting with your spouse when circumstances stay no. Which of Amy’s tips have worked for your family? What other tips would you add to her advice. Leave a comment.