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These tips have all been sent in by other parents, carers and professionals in the learning disability community. We hope they will give you plenty of ideas to try, but please remember Netbuddy is not responsible for the information provided or any of the activities suggested.
Its very easy to get stuck in a rut where all of what you talk about is the kids, appointments, work and domestic stuff. Make sure you keep talking about all the other interesting things that once bought you together and interests you share. Don't let that go!
Do something nice every day
When we married, my husband and I vowed that we would endeavour to do something nice for the other person 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.
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!
My husband and I play a game where we place bets with each other which of our 3 disabled children will waken / 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.
Communication is the key to everything. Understanding that sometimes we get it wrong and not blaming each other.
Share 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.
Learn how to think positive in moments of stress.
If you can, make sure you and your partner have ‘you time’ time together without any of your children. It is really important not to forget each other and to keep your relationship strong.
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.
Trust your partner to parent
Trust your partner to parent. Sometimes we shut them out and do things ourselves without giving them a chance.
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
I know parents who have tried tips that we offer for parenting siblings with very positive results! eg leaving messages around the house for the 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 (special needs or not) amplifies any problems that already exist. Every day I thank my lucky stars that my wife is with me and 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 ...
We encourage partners to ask themselves, '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.
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