Special Child Adds Stress to Marriage

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 19, 2009 | Go to article overview

Special Child Adds Stress to Marriage


Byline: Julie Baumgardner, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

I grew up with a brother who has special needs, and I always have suspected that in some ways, my parents' divorce was a result of the pressure that comes from raising a special-needs child.

When I meet couples who have special-needs children, I always am interested in learning about how they manage to keep their marriage together.

I recently had the opportunity to visit with Bob and Susan Locke, whose second child, Lyndi, arrived 11 weeks early weighing in at 3 pounds, 4 ounces.

The Lockes recalled how they felt as if they were swimming in uncharted waters. Medical personnel gave them a lot of information, but the Lockes didn't feel like any of it was very hopeful. Even though the doctors told the Lockes that Lyndi had cerebral palsy and possibly other complications, the fact that she was doing so well made it hard to believe.

We kept taking Lyndi to the hospital for check-ups, Mrs. Locke said. When the doctor told us she had cerebral palsy and made statements like, 'She won't ever do this,' and 'She won't ever do that,' I walked out of there feeling like I couldn't breathe. Here was this child who looked perfect, like a little baby doll, and they were telling us all these things she would never do. I was furious.

Lyndi is now 15 and the Lockes are approaching their 20th wedding anniversary. While many couples find it challenging to have a strong and healthy marriage under the best of circumstances, having a child with special needs can take it to a new level.

When I asked the Lockes how they have kept their marriage strong in the midst of parenting three children, the Lockes said they always have put one foot in front of the other and worked together.

We have always approached our marriage and parenting as a team, Mrs. Locke said. Whenever I started asking, 'What if ...,' or getting worked up about something, Bob just said, 'Whatever we need to do, we'll do it' He made it sound so simple. …

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