Having a child with autism can put stress on a marriage. Ask veteran autism parents, “What do you wish you knew then that you know now?” and many say that they wish they’d spent more time maintaining their relationships with their significant others before the relationships fell apart.
Here are 7 quick tips shared by parents on MyAutismTeam for “keeping the romance alive”. These are all from parents who have children on the autism spectrum.
Date nights are critical so Plan Ahead
Take the time to line up respite care or a sitter at the beginning of each month to make sure you get out. No planning ahead usually means no date. (See below for more on finding autism-friendly respite care and sitters)
My husband makes it a point for us to have date night at least 2x a month to just be us. Sometimes we only go out for pie and coffee, its not much but it makes me feel like a million bucks.
The Weekday Lunch Date
My husband and I have a weekly lunch date while my son is at school. It’s great because we don’t need to get a sitter, we have time to talk to each other about adult things, and we are not falling asleep!
Dedicated Bedtime for Your Child
Set a fixed bedtime for your child that leaves an hour or two of evening time you can spend together, before you pass out from exhaustion yourself. If your child can’t fall asleep at 8pm, try to build the routine that they still go to their room at that time.
Flirting (even by text), and napping when my son naps so that I’m awake when my husband gets home
Every week we make sure we have conversations together, and with other adults, that has nothing to do with ASD or our work.
Beware the completely unstructured weekends
Weekends can be tough. My husband and I typically want to unwind and have no routine, but the lack of routine throws our son for a loop. That leads to way more emotional outbursts and power struggles, making it hard to even think about time together.
Divide & Conquer
Sometimes the best thing you can do for your marriage is divide and conquer so that Mom gets to time to herself to reclaim her sanity. A 2009 study showed that Autism Moms have the same levels of chronic stress as do combat soldiers! It’s tough for someone under that much pressure to have anything left to give to a marriage. In some households the Dad is the primary caregiver. Make sure that person gets some time to recharge!
On Finding Autism-Friendly Sitters and Respite Care
- Check out Sittercity.com- MyAutismTeam has negotiated a free trial and a 50% discount for all MyAutismTeam parents on SitterCity.
SitterCity.com is a website that makes finding qualified sitters online really easy. They don’t provide sitters trained in autism, but often you can find sitters who have had experience working with children on the spectrum. It may just be enough to give you a few hours to yourself. For more details check out our post on Finding an Autism-Friendly Sitter (and use the link there to get the MyAutismTeam discount).
- Use MyAutismTeam to form local autism-friendly babysitting coops. Join MyAutismTeam and find other parents near you who have children similar to yours and who understand autism.
You may be able to arrange something where they can watch your child once a month and you can do the same for them. The more people are in the group, the more options for sitters.
Please share your tips on how you keep the romance alive with your significant others!