How an Autism Diagnosis Improved Our Marriage

I generally shy away from writing about my relationship with my husband. Writing about something creates a fixed point, and I would much rather leave my relationships flexible, allowing for an ebb and flow that writing sometimes does not allow.

However, getting our son’s autism diagnosis significantly affected my marriage, and I think that is important to talk about.

The impact was enormously positive, and we still enjoy its benefits today.

After years of trying – and failing – to find the best way to teach my son right from wrong, rewards and consequences, social norms and to simply keep him safe, his diagnosis was a source of relief for us. It took a huge weight off of our shoulders to realize it wasn’t us – we were not bad parents.

We have become more patient with each other, no longer laboring under the painful feelings of “What have we done wrong?” and What are we doing wrong?” After reading so many parenting books and listening to so much advice, we finally feel like we are on the right path. Now, we can help our son on this path, teaching him right from wrong, understanding what motivates him and giving him tools to function within social norms. We have a shared understanding about what we need to do and successfully work as a team.

The diagnosis opened our eyes to who our son really was, enabling us to pair our love of him with true understanding. In the depths of my soul I know there is no greater gift we can give our child than honest acceptance of who he is.

Together, we’ve had to make some hard decisions — the decision for me to leave my out-of-home job and its steady income in favor of consulting work from home. This meant both of us would work commission-only jobs. It was a risk, and one that we might not have been brave enough to take if it weren’t for the courage that came from knowing it was what our son needed.

I had to do the math to recall how long my husband and I have been married – 12 years this month. It’s not that we don’t care, but because the most important thing that came out of our son’s diagnosis is that we learned to take things one day at a time.

When you’re taking things one day at a time, you don’t look too far behind and you don’t look too far ahead. There is a certain kind of zen that comes with that, a zen that feels good and right.

That is good for all of us.

A version of this post originally appeared on Autism Mom.

The Mighty wants to hear more about relationships and special needs parenting. Can you share a moment on your special needs journey that strengthened your relationship? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.

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