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How Having a Child With Disabilities Has Impacted Our Marriage

By most accounts and statistics, supposedly our marriage should have deteriorated already. A child with a disability? A wife with a chronic disease? A husband with a career in one of the most stressful professions? Many would expect we would have failed. In fact, the deck was stacked for us to fail. But we didn’t. And we haven’t. And we won’t.

Between the blow of a chronic heart condition diagnosis, to Callie’s amputation, to the daily maintenance I have for my diabetes, to simply managing life in a non-inclusive world for Callie — the stress is overwhelming. No wonder parents of kids with disabilities feel an overpowering amount of stress and strain — including their marriage. This pressure hasn’t torn us apart. In fact, it’s done the opposite and has brought us even closer together.

When Callie was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot, it was each other we turned to.

It was his hand that I held through the entire eight hour surgery and it was my arms he fell into after we would leave the NICU each day.

When Callie was wheeled back into surgery for her amputation, it was James who held me and let me collapse in pain. It was me who reassured him that she would be OK and we could do this together no matter what obstacles would be put in our path.

When Callie had her latest open-heart surgery, it was at my feet that James fell to on his knees. It was my waist his arms circled, holding onto for strength. It was James who covered me with a blanket in the middle of the night when he woke up in the hospital room. It was me that he would make sure had eaten, taken her insulin and rested while our baby girl recovered in the bed next to us.

But the greatest gift Callie has given us is not how her disabilities have drawn us together, but in how they have pitted us against the world. Our relationship has solidified in the adversity we’ve overcome. Together.

Every time we held hands in the waiting room while Callie had a procedure.

Every time he wiped tears from my face.

Every time we navigated the insurance system.

Every time we would work with Callie to take steps in her new prosthetics.

Every time we would collapse at the end of an exhausting day.

Every time he would make me laugh trying to lighten the mood in the doctor’s office.

Every time we would do Callie’s therapy sessions with her.

Every time Callie hit a milestone.

Every time we would overcome an obstacle.

At each of these times, I felt immensely grateful to have such an amazing partner. Marriage, a lot of the time, can be challenged by the extra demands that come from parenting a child with a disability. Ours, instead, was lifted up and solidified. It was us against the world and we would do everything in our power to create an incredible life for our little family. The world might throw enormous hurdles in our path, but we will do our best to overcome each and every one.

With courage and kindness.