A day when all the kids are gone seems so far away as well as unattainable when you are dealing with autism. Beth Moore often talks at Living Proof Ministries about taking the time to keep your relationship with your husband strong. In theory, one day it will be just the two of you again. The children will move away to start families of their own. Perhaps there will come a time when you are able to secure a spot in a group home or assisted living place for your adult child with autism. Maybe you can make an apartment above your garage for your child to live semi-independently. Either way, if you are not careful, you will look at your mate and say who are you?
A few years ago, I would have scoffed at this idea. I would have mentioned that Logan was never going to move out with the ability to live on his own. Therefore I was never going to have an empty nest. For some families with children with autism, this is a reality. They will never have an empty nest in the traditional way. Their jobs as caretakers of their children may get easier or harder depending on the adult child. Either way, let’s realize that we have to make a genuine effort to work on our marriages.
On another note, God knew that I wasn’t ready to embrace that idea a few years ago. We were mired in autism among other things. Our family wasn’t in the best place never mind our marriage. As we have sought God’s will for our lives, He has seen fit to bless us with managed autism recovery. I can now envision us with an empty nest. Will Logan have to have supports in place in order to live independently? Possibly. I am leaving that in God’s very capable hands. I am just so excited at the very real possibility that he will live independently.
Michael and I are now making a conscious effort to reconnect and make our marriage a priority. Marriage is hard work just like parenting. Anything worth having involves hard work and compromise. Some days are easier than others, of course. We still get mired in the muck of autism, Logan’s other health-related needs in addition to homeschooling. We try to make those days few and far between. We have to make our lives not revolve around that and focus our eyes on God and each other.
5 Ways to Reconnect With Your Spouse
- Do a couple’s Bible study together.
Don’t tell me there is no time for this. For the past 7 years, Michael worked nights. He left for work at 2:30 in the afternoon only to return between 3 and 5 AM. This meant that he had to stay up later when he got home as well as I had to get up super early to get Bible study done together. Was it easy? Absolutely not. I am not a morning person. Why did we do it? Because it was important to our marriage.
- Date Night
Some dates didn’t involve leaving our house. To this day, I try to find ways to sneak in at least a few hours alone with Michael every week. At this point in our lives, it usually happens on Wednesday night when the kids attend youth group. In the past, we had to work hard to make it happen. We had to stay up late or trade babysitting to get it accomplished. Make it a priority.
- Do one thing to serve each other every single day
Does he hate to get up to a dirty kitchen? Make it a priority to get it cleaned up before bed.
Does she hate to have to stop to fill the gas tank with a car full of kids? Make it a point to check the gas and fill it for her.
Wake up each day agreeing that you will do something to make your spouse’s day easier.
- Go to bed at the same time
This is not always possible. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t accomplish this. I was over the moon excited when Michael got a day shift. Finally! We can go to bed at the same time as a rule instead of an exception. Nope. He goes to bed at 8 PM and gets up at 2:30 AM. I work until 10:30 PM Sunday through Wednesday. It only happens on our days off. When it does happen, we are able to talk and be alone. That leads to my last idea.
- Have sex weekly at a minimum
You read that correctly. WEEKLY. As in, at least once if not more unless you are physically unable. Let’s be real here. You will be tired. The last thing you will want to do is expend more energy on sex. Hear me out. First, you will sleep better. I’m all for anything that helps me sleep. Second, men are physically hands-on creatures. They feel loved as well as adequate with physical touch. There is no way around that. You want your husband to feel loved, respected, and wanted in every sense. You’ll be amazed at how this one trick will rejuvenate your marriage.
I encourage you to take some time and re-evaluate your marriage. Are you leaving a legacy for your children to follow? Better yet, when most if not all your children move out, will you still know your spouse?