How to keep your relationship strong

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and love is in the air, but if you have a disabled child, you may find your relationship takes a back seat. Parenting a disabled child can put a significant strain on your partnership, so take a look at some of these top tips from the Netbuddy community (now part of Scope):

Parents of a disabled child sitting close together

Keep talking

It’s very easy to get stuck in a rut where all you talk about is the kids, appointments, work and domestic stuff. Make sure you keep talking about all the other interesting things that once brought you together and interests you share. Don’t let that go!

Trust your partner to parent

Trust your partner to parent. Sometimes we shut them out and do things ourselves without giving them a chance.

Do something nice every day

When we married, my husband and I vowed that we would endeavour to do something nice for each other every day, small tokens like making a drink or running a bath. In turn, the other person would always appreciate this effort and thank them, not taking it for granted.

Make time

Try to make time as a couple, even if it’s only to have a chat over a cup of tea once the children are in bed. Talk and listen to each other. Washing up can wait!

Make light

My husband and I play a game where we place bets with each other which of our three disabled children will wake/kick off etc at what times. The ‘winner’ gets a treat from the other partner. Sounds silly, but making light of intensely stressful situations really does help us cope.

Keep communication open

Have an agreed plan of how to manage your child and keep communication open between yourselves.

Think positive

Learn how to think positive in moments of stress.

Family with a daughter in a wheelchairShare it with your best friend

You have to learn to laugh through the stress together or it will crush your relationship. There are ups and downs daily. Communicate everything … fear, anger, humour. Cry, laugh, love, share with your best friend.

No blame

Communication is the key to everything. Understanding that sometimes we get it wrong and not blaming each other.

Share issues

Make sure you both understand your child’s condition and what it means, so you can talk about how to approach issues. When one of you works full time and the other goes to all the appointments, it’s easy for the working partner to feel pushed out and in the dark. That can lead to them giving up trying, so the full-time carer feels unsupported.

Play to each others’ strengths

Play to each others’ strengths. I’m good at paperwork. Hubby is great at housework. So I sort school letters, DLA forms, statements etc. Hubby hoovers, mops etc.

RespectHappy couple with disabled child

Respect is very important. Respect your partner’s opinions even if you don’t share them. That will allow you to move on through disagreements and focus on the positives.

Leave a note

Leave messages around the house for each other to find, reminding the partner how they are appreciated/loved … or sending a text message.

Let them help

Let your partner help when they can. Yes, they may do things differently, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Communicate your feelings

Dealing with the stress involved with having a child (disabled or not) amplifies any problems that already exist. Every day I thank my lucky stars that my wife is with me and that my daughter is well … and I tell them both as often as I can that I love them and appreciate all they do. My tips would be communicate, listen and support.

Ask yourself …

‘What is the one thing I can do this week that will make my partner feel special?’ and plan time in the diary to do it.

Sleep on it

Sleep is very important. If you are both sleep deprived, arguments are much more likely to happen. Try taking it in turns to get up at night so one person always has a full night’s sleep.

To see more great relationship tips, and to add your own, please visit netbuddy.org.uk