Thursday, November 02, 2006

Broken, Not Shattered

This morning, thanks to wonderful friends keeping her up late for us last night, Ellie slept in a little. She didn't come into our room until nearly 6:30, the latest since the time change. She climbed up into our bed (with assistance) and pulled up my satiny pajama shirt, exposing my big, round belly. I showed her where the baby's head (or butt) was pushing out right then, and she leaned over and gave my tummy/the baby a flerbert! I didn't know she knew how to do that. She she did it over and over, laughing and laughing.

Paul and I are going through a very rough patch. It's not OK. It's not going to be OK. But things are starting to look a bit brighter today, and we are both working really really hard. We're also seeing a therapist.

The problems stemmed from a lot of things, but I think that important among them was the fact that we've been underestimating how stressful it really is for us to raise a child with special needs. We tend to focus so much on her successes and abilities, and that's great for parents to do, but we also need to focus on ourselves, acknowledging when things are hard.

We also are strained by not having family nearby to help shoulder the burdens. We have so many dear friends who offer to help us out, to watch Ellie sometimes. We almost never take them up on that, and we need to do better. We need to go out together, alone. We need to send Ellie out and spend time at home together, alone.

What's broken needs a lot of fixing. Understanding some of the underlying stresses doesn't make things right. But having this sort of acute crisis is refocusing us, getting me out of my head-down-and-push-through mentality, getting Paul out of his 18-hour-workdays mentality, and forcing us to reprioritize. Right now, working on us comes before everything else.

Blogging openly about a marriage's struggles is just not done much, especially in a mama blog like this one, where Paul and I know so many of the people who read it. But I don't think that silence helps anything; I don't think that hiding the fact that we're struggling helps anything. Honesty and transparency are how we're trying to put the pieces back together. I'm not going to write here about every step of the process, but I think it's important to acknowledge openly that even people like us, people with a marriage we always thought was unshakably solid, can have real problems that require real work to fix.

Fortunately, Paul and I are both the sort of people who like homework.

16 comments:

Amanda said...

Good for you for realizing that you need help and sometimes just talking together doesn't solve things. We went through a few rough patches after our children were born. I hope you find more time for you as a couple. As my husband always says I like you more without the kids because you're not Mommy, you can say things and do things that you can't do or say in front of the kids. Good luck. Our thoughts are with you.

Redhead Editor said...

I feel your pain and been there, done that. Words you don't need to hear, but suffice it to say, you're not alone. One of my sayings when my husband and I were in therapy and I felt guilty about time taken away from the girls: Take care of yourself; the rest will follow.

Take care of yourself, SL!

seasonalkat said...

I am so sorry things with your relationship are difficult right now, but thank you for blogging about it. I think it helps us to realize we're not alone when we struggle too (and there ARE struggles). I imagine that raising a special needs child is tremendously challenging, and not having family nearby to help out is absolutely an additional challenge. Please do follow up on your own suggestions of taking more time for yourselves as a _couple_. If you don't nurture that relationship with time alone, it does make it much less resillient and seemingly easier to snap.

You're in my thoughts.

Siobhan said...

Aw, shoot. Please take care, Sarahlynn. You'll be in my thoughts.

tina said...

Sounds like you've identified the problem and what you need to do.

You are right - you need to focus on yourselves for a change. I cannot begin to understand what you go through raising Elle - or any child for that matter. Having no children (by choice) my husband and I have always been able to focus on one another most. I have wondered what things would be like if that were not so, if we had children to focus on also.

At a couples retreat once, the leader pointed out just what you've said - that you MUST (at times) focus on yourselves and your relationship. The best gift a parent can give his/her child is a happy marriage.

Take care of yourselves. I don't doubt for a minute that you won't come out of this stronger.

ccw said...

Many hugs to you!

I'm sorry that things are so tough for you and Paul right now but I am glad that you are both making an effort to work through everything.

I'm too far away to watch Ellie, but I am willing to listen anytime you need an ear.

Jessica said...

Scott and I both have confidence in each of you as individuals as well as your marriage - we know you will get through this.

And, seriously, Sarahlynn....if you knew how many time a week we discuss Ellie - how often we bring up the fact that we would like to spend time with her, you might take us up on our offer more often. Start having date nights and let us take that little girl!

shannon said...

No advice, but I hope that everything goes well.

PPB said...

(o)

Psycho Kitty said...

You know I'm manifesting my ass off for you guys.
xo

Camera Obscura said...

Lots of good thoughts headed your way.

My kids' younger cousins are all out-of-state (they've got one they've never seen!) and I know they'd adore to "adopt" Ellie as a "cousin". #2-Son and Daughter have had classmates with Down's Syndrome, so 'twill be familiar.

Now that soccer's over, our Saturdays, and our Sunday afternoons, are free. Please let me know if we can take Ellie to the park or the zoo or some such...

hybrid said...

Thinking of you, Sarahlynn. And it takes courage to write about this stuff, in detail or not.

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you Sarahlynn, and sending 1000 hugs--not that they are that useful.

I hope that things work out, for the sake of your family. I pray that this counseling is just what you need to get things back on track.

The Imperfect Christian said...

It's not talked about a lot and I think that is sad. Many people experience problems in their marriage and the more they can learn from others in similiar situations, the better. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Marriage is hard. Kudos to you BOTH for knowing what you want and working on getting back to it, no matter how hard things are going to be. You are in my continued prayers!!

Krupskaya said...

You all are in my thoughts. AND, a belated happy birthday to Ellie -- she is so grown up! I can't believe it! An extra hug for her.

the squeaky mouse gets the cheese said...

Thinking of you guys. I'm also impressed you can write about it so openly, but since I don't get to see you much (heck, we don't see anyone much, joy of small children) this is how I know what's going on with you, so I'm glad you shared.
Any one marriage itself is too complex to just stamp with the 'it takes work' phrase, though I use it too--I know I try to never take mine for granted, but I've done it before at times and so has she. It's more important how you deal with the screwups than that they happen. I'm glad to hear you say you guys are putting the 'us' first right now...it's a given that that doesn't always occur, particularly with work and children.
Don't know if any of that helps, but hey...hugs.