By Marcia Hinds – Megan and Ryan’s Mom
Marriage is supposed to be “for better or worse.” It certainly has the potential to be “worse” when you have a kid with autism. Our marriage almost didn’t survive Ryan’s autism diagnosis. What I didn’t know then was that I held the key to making things better. I hope you don’t treat your husband the same way I did when we were still stranded on Autism Island. I was so overwhelmed by all I needed to do to help Ryan that I sometimes made the mistake of relegating Frank’s importance to that of a piece of furniture. I didn’t give Frank much consideration or attention because I was on a mission to save my son and couldn’t focus on anything else.
Back then, both of us felt helpless and couldn’t understand why Ryan was so difficult. Neither of us could talk to the other about the terrible circumstances we were trapped in. Why bother to talk when almost every conversation ended with me crying and Frank frustrated because he couldn’t fix things? Frank thought I was too soft and I knew he was too tough. And Megan, Ryan’s sister, just got what was left after we were done dealing with Ryan and each other.
I forgot to consider that my husband also wanted what was best for our child. I was so busy disagreeing with him that I couldn’t see that. My husband recently told me that the dads he has spoken with often say their wives are great mothers, yet expressed considerable pain over not being shown love, affection or anything else. I was one of those wives.
I should have realized that Frank was hurting too. He wanted to be treated the same way I did. My husband needed to feel appreciated, respected, and shown a little affection. There would have been a lot less arguing if I had done that. I should have used what Frank valued to bring him over to my way of thinking. The same methods I used to change Ryan’s behavior would have worked with Frank. I should have ignored the things I didn’t like, and complimented my husband when I saw him being the dad I needed him to be. A compliment followed by a full-body hug, would have worked better than arguing with him or ignoring him all the time.
I needed to treat Frank the same way I wanted to be treated. But we were both emotional spent and sometimes didn’t see things clearly. I often questioned how I could have felt such resentment towards the same man I once loved more than anyone else. We both needed to talk about happier times and what made us fall in love. That would have helped us remember what we liked each other before we became entrenched in autism hell. But, I just wanted my husband to get out of my way, so I could help Ryan.
By changing my behavior and by making Frank a part of our team and part of the solution, I could have made him an ally instead of the person standing in my way. I should have treated my husband like I did before we were married and I was still trying to impress him. The bottom line is that our fighting interfered with helping Ryan. I needed to give my husband the clear message that we are in this together as equals. Fortunately, my husband never gave up on me or our kids no matter how many times I pushed him away.
NOTE FROM MARCIA HINDS – Megan and Ryan’s mom:
Ryan became an aerospace engineer, because he received proper medical treatment combined with behavioral, and educational interventions. To preview my book, “I Know You’re In There – winning our war against autism”go to Amazon or my website www.autism-and-treatment.com
Contact info for Marcia: