Tuesday, February 16, 2016

I Cry... He Fixes

May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.     2 Thessalonians 3:5 NLT

I finished cleaning the kitchen, loading dishes in the dishwasher and sat down. My husband came upstairs with a bowl in his hand. I watched as he walked into the kitchen, rinsed and set the bowl down in the empty sink. The one I just emptied of dirty dishes. He walked past me and started heading back down stairs. I said, “Jeff, is there any reason why you didn’t put that bowl in the dishwasher? I JUST finished cleaning up the kitchen.” he said. “Well, I didn’t think about it”. I looked at him with disbelief, really? I thought to myself, how many times have I asked him to please rinse and load his dish when he is done?  I decided to let it go, after all I was at the computer trying to write about marriage. Probably shouldn’t get into an argument with my husband, right?  J

The next morning I was doing my usual morning routine with my son, Ryan. Giving him a shower, I let him sit under the hot shower for a few extra minutes. When I walked back into the bathroom I said, “Wow it is really steamy in here, even your bedroom window is steamed up. Good thing your dad isn’t here he would say to me, “How many times do I have to ask you to turn the fan on when you use the shower?” Ryan asked me why I didn’t turn the fan on. I said, “Well I just don’t think about it.” I started to laugh. Didn’t I just hear those very words from Jeff last night about the dishes in the sink?

Jeff and I often don’t see things the same way. From the start, we dealt with the news of Ryan's diagnosis of Muscular Dystrophy differently. We both grieved, yet in very different ways. 

Jeff and I rarely talked about our feelings. With each decline of Ryan’s physical ability the more withdrawn we both became. We were hurting, and it felt that to bring it up to that person who was hurting every bit as much, was like pouring salt into a gaping wound. We had no idea how to deal with our feelings, so we didn’t. At least not with each other. That caused a lot of stress in our marriage.

About 7 years ago we were encouraged to attend a weekend marriage seminar. Feeling emotionally, physically, and even spiritually drained we knew we needed to do something. So we went, hoping to find some encouragement and direction for our marriage.  The retreat started Friday night and ran through Sunday morning. We arrived, got set up in our room and headed down to the first session. It was a short session, the husband and wife team shared, then we were given an assignment for the night. 

Once back in our room Jeff and I sat down on the bed, and there was silence. Neither one of us saying a word.  Then I started to cry.  I said, “There is no way this is going to work for us. We are doomed, our marriage has no hope.”  Jeff felt the same way. We went home feeling defeated and depressed.

When you add a special needs child into the family things are different. This retreat was unrealistic for our situation, and it took a long time for us to get past the hopelessness we felt after attending it.

Since that time, we have worked through a lot. I used to see Jeff’s silence as he doesn’t care, so I would get angry with him. Jeff being a fixer didn’t know how to fix what was going on, so he would shut down.  We had to start talking, no matter how hard it was.  Even if it was just to say, did you notice….. It wasn’t going to change the circumstances, but we needed to know the other person had not given up and that we weren’t alone in our feelings.

Jeff and I don’t always see things the same way or deal with them the same. It has taken many years for me to see and be okay with that.

I respond with emotions, where Jeff will get quiet and won’t talk. If there is something physical he can do to “fix” it he will, that is how he deals with it; I cry, he reaches for a hammer!

When Ryan was 10 years old it was becoming obvious that it was getting close to him needing to be in his wheelchair full time. We knew that our house was not accessible to his wheelchair, so Jeff, being the logical fixer set out to fix it. He drew up plans and started knocking down walls. I, on the other hand, was in denial. I didn’t want to admit what was to come. I felt that we did not have faith in God to heal Ryan if we were preparing for him to stop walking. I did not cooperate AT ALL with Jeff’s project. When he would show me the plans he worked hours on, I would glance at it and not say a word. When he asked me what color I wanted the new rooms to be I said would say I didn’t care, whatever he wanted to do would be fine. I was being a royal pain in the butt!

While I tend to react with emotions, Jeff can often see things from a more practical point of view.  He could not change what was happening to Ryan, but he could change the house. He could make life a little easier for Ryan. THIS he could FIX!  It wasn't about believing or faith, it was about seeing the  reality of where Ryan was and Jeff  knew something needed to be done. Ryan stopped walking within a few months of the downstairs remodel. I wasn’t ready to accept the reality, but thankfully Jeff was. 

Talking about Ryan is still hard for us, but we do talk about it more now than we used to. We are a work in progress. Our marriage will not look the same, and how we deal with it won’t be the same as others. That’s okay. We each have a role to play in this thing. We have been able to figure out  ways to come together to take care of Ryan and support each other in his daily needs. 

Marriage is hard, especially when you add the stress of caring for a special needs child. If you are struggling, I encourage you to hang in there. I want you to know it is okay, and sometimes necessary to reach out for help.  Just make sure that person you reach out to for help understands the added stresses involved in special needs families.

Dear Heavenly Father,

You have made each one of us different and for that I am thankful. Yet these differences can bring extra stress into an already stressful situation. I pray that you will help us to develop a safe place in our homes that we can share our emotions and support each other. I pray protection over our families. I pray for those who might be walking this alone, I ask that you will bring someone in their life that they will feel safe in sharing with. Someone who will come along side them and encourage them. Thank you that we are not in this alone, you are walking beside us every step of the way. 

In Jesus name I pray,


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for being so transparent about the struggles of marriage and how God is helping you appreciate one another. Thanks for adding this post to DifferentDream.com's Tuesday special needs link share.