Having a child with additional needs, whether it is a physical or learning disability or a serious health condition can put extra pressure on a relationship.
Caring for a child, appointments with the hospital, finding appropriate schooling and many more issues can mean finding time to be together as a couple is even harder. Below you can read about what other couples say about caring for a child with additional needs.
“Any difficulties between my husband and I are exacerbated by the additional stress and time lost to caring for a disabled child. Neither of us gets enough time and attention for us as individuals and neither of us has the capacity to give more to the other. There is a great deal of resentment – he resents that I don’t spend as much time with our disabled child as he does, and I resent that he doesn’t recognize the colossal effort I put into co-ordinating schedules, visiting the school and fighting continuous battles to get what our son needs.” (1)
“So the thing that changed my relationship was when my younger daughter arrived and the special needs aspect of the thing. I used to saturate myself with information about her condition. I was always tired. I was raising two children and all my time and effort went into that.”
“My wife spends all her time looking after our child. She is brilliant at it – but at the end of each day, there is nothing left of her. She’s like a wet dishrag. I wish I could help more and when I’m in I do but cause treatment is so expensive for this condition I work overtime most nights. We’re a team but it’s not the easiest team to be in!”
“I really worry about my other children. Leena takes up all my time and effort and the other two get the shabby bit of me that’s left. It isn’t fair. My husband takes the other two out whenever he can but that means I’m on my own again with Leena. It’s really tough going for us and we do argue about things, things like what to spend our little money on, how often I spend time with the older girls, whether to move house – just everything. Even picking a holiday that suits us all turns into row!”
Paul, West Midlands
“My mum and dad help out whenever they can – I mean that’s great whilst Ed is little, he is so cute and everyone wants to help! I worry though that when he gets older, you know a teenager with all those issues, other people aren’t going to be so willing to help. I think it will be even harder for me and my wife then.”
“I’ve had to quit my job to look after our child. I am a full-time carer and I have not a minute in each day to myself – let alone for my partner. I resent him sometimes cause he can leave, he still has a career and a whole other side to him. I love my child but it is really hard leaving a successful career behind and not knowing if you will even be able to work again. It makes me very sad.”
Colette, South Wales
“Sex … what’s that? I went to a carers group the other day and somehow we got onto the topic of sex. I have to say hearing that other women don’t fancy it that often either was a bit of a relief! It’s not that I don’t want to – I would if I wasn’t quite so exhausted all the time.”
“Having a disabled child has been the hardest thing to happen to me in my life. And it has really changed our relationship. Even though it is so different now, in some ways it is better, we are so close – our bond is that strong cause of the things we have shared, those really, really hard times. It’s like this amazing special club just for two and only we know what it is like to be in it!”
For more help and support read:
- Communication tips for parents of children with additional needs
- Tips for supporting each other and your child
- Tips for maintaing intimacy when you have a child with special needs
- Contact a Family. (2004). No time for us: Relationships between parents who have a disabled child: A survey of over 2000 parents in the UK. London: Contact a Family.