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11 Promises a Special Needs Mom Makes to Her Husband

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Growing up, I used to imagine the kind of wife I would be — a delicate mix of June Cleaver and Carol Brady. True, June Cleaver is the queen of needlepoint, cake decorating and cleaning in pearls, while I, on the other hand, cannot sew to save my life, would rather devour than decorate a cake and wholeheartedly detest housework.  And yes, Carol Brady — a housewife, sculptor, freelance writer and political activist with the singing voice of an angel — is tough competition, but I was prepared to rise to the occasion.

And then, the other morning, as I was in the middle of a very important search-and-rescue mission for a missing Barbie shoe while also trying to coerce my 2-year-old to use the potty, my husband asked me if I had seen his car keys. To be honest, I was so caught up in trying to find Barbie’s pink, rhinestone-encrusted stiletto that I don’t know if I ever even responded to him. Even sadder, it was not until later that day while on a phone call with the neurology department that I realized my lack of response.

In that moment, I didn’t feel like June Cleaver or Carol Brady at all. I felt more like a mix of Roseanne Barr with a side of Peg Bundy.

I have read the studies and statistics on marriages between parents of children with special needs. I understand the struggle of trying to find a balance between the everyday demands of being a mother and wife. Most days, therapy sessions and doctor’s appointments take precedence over date nights and enlightening conversations. Sometimes, because they have to. Sometimes, because I allow them to.

Although our marriage may be slightly more complicated than the marriages of others, I owe it to my husband and to myself to make our marriage a priority.

So, to my husband, I promise you this:

1. I will communicate openly and honestly with you, and I will listen when you are ready to do the same.

2. I will take the time to celebrate and acknowledge your strengths, and I will be by your side to support you when you feel weak.

3. I will tell you how handsome you are at least three… no… five times a day.

4. I will talk hospitals and therapies and diagnoses with you, and when you need a break, I will respect that.

5. I will laugh with you and cry with you, and laugh so hard with you that we both are in tears.

6. I will hug you.

7. I will encourage you to have interests outside the home — to relax, to rejuvenate, to recharge.

8. I will have interests outside of the home, too — for all of the same reasons as you, and to help cover up these grey hairs that have suddenly surfaced.

9. I will carve out time each day for the two of us to connect. I will unplug and unwind. I will focus on you, and I will protect our time to ensure it happens.

10. I will be your co-captain, your number-one fan and your biggest cheerleader.

11. And while I know I may never be the June to your Ward or the Carol to your Mike, I will always love you.

Ali and her husband

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

Originally published: January 18, 2016
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