Checked out

“No child that is sick or with special needs is responsible for the end of a marriage”

The Bible says, "in this world you will have trouble" (John 16:33). It's a known fact that we will all face troubles in our lives. So often when this trauma or tragedy takes place, it causes relationships to fall apart. Having a child with special needs can be considered an impossible situation for some people. Before I continue, let me just say that no child that is sick or with special needs is responsible for the end of a marriage. Every parent enters a marriage trying to do their best for their spouse and family. The unfortunate reality about a child with special needs and a marriage is the amount of responsibility from each parent based on how they are handling it emotionally. Sadly, there is a high rate of men who simply focus on other things and leave the mother to care for that child at home or in the hospital, creating a distance. This is not true for all fathers. However, in my marriage, this is exactly what happened.

I know every relationship has its ups and downs. The challenges of co-parenting can increase the amount of stress on a marriage but when a child is sick or has special needs, more issues can appear. Tragically, couples of children with special needs face a much higher divorce rate than the rest of the married population. When things seemed irreparable, my husband and I separated. Noah was just six months old and about to undergo his second heart surgery. No one wants to end a marriage, especially when you just had a baby. I would've been willing to work things out if my husband didn't show me how bad he wanted out. I wouldn't have given up on us so fast if I wasn't tired and already feeling like I was in this by myself. At the time, I felt that we were better off apart and I truly believed that despite our separation, he would continue to be a great dad to both Noah and DJ.

It's been almost a year since my husband saw his kids. It seemed as if he checked out completely but after months of no communication, DJ managed to get his number and is now able to text his dad daily. As much as it hurts, I still try to understand what led to this abandonment. I know Noah's condition changed our lives but we were suppose to be in this together. You're probably wondering what were our issues? What led to this separation? Well, prior to having Noah, our marriage had been tested and it actually grew stronger from that experience. I thought we finally got it right and that nothing could break us. Noah was suppose to be the icing on the cake. Despite whatever challenges came with him, I knew that we would get through it as a family. I never thought for once that I would be going through this as a single parent. Back then it didn't occur to me that this may be affecting him more than me. I was always the one expressing my hurt and fears, the only one falling apart but still least that's what I thought. I can't speak for my husband but I think he was going through his own emotions and maybe even resents me for having Noah despite the diagnosis. Receiving that diagnosis was a huge blow and he wanted me to terminate the pregnancy. After a few doctor visits, he had a change of heart and when I gave birth to Noah he apologized for thinking that was the best thing to do, and thanked me for standing firm on my decision. He thanked me for keeping Noah despite also having his mother and my mom agreeing with him for me to terminate the pregnancy. As I think back on that moment, it's hard to understand his actions after that apology. Why he didn't continue to fight if he loves Noah so much? Even if he didn't fight for our marriage, he could've continued to have a strong relationship with his kids and not be an absent parent. They say trauma can change you and I know these storms of life can place so much stress on us mentally and emotionally. I salute couples who are strong enough to go through it together because when you weather the storm united, you come out of it stronger. Unfortunately, in our marriage, this crisis destroyed us.