Many media reports on autism like to quote extremely high likelihoods of divorce for couples with autistic children, such as this one from CTV (click on the parent episode) that gives an 80% divorce rate. That means for every five couples who are raising a child with autism, only one will remain together. How very sad.
I have a theory that is not rocket science, nor will it be particularly surprising to many readers: stress can kill a marriage. The higher the stress, the more likely the marriage collapses. It is easy to love your spouse when times are good. You feel relaxed, rested, have time and money to spare. But when times are tough - you're not sleeping, being run ragged and are scrimping pennies together to pay the bills, it is easy to tear up the person sharing your misery. I think this is why it is so hard to truly understand the words, "for better or for worse" - because many people have only seen the better.
Our personal stress has increased tenfold since Alanna was diagnosed. It is hard for me to think of serving and loving Becca (my wife). It's hard to get up with the kids at 5:00am when I am exhausted but know she is too, or clean the house when she told me she would but couldn't get to it. But that is loving her. It is hard knowing we may always have a child dependent on us for the rest of our lives. But caring for Alanna is loving her too.
I would be lying if I said I hadn't day-dreamed of what it would be like to have no children, to be free of responsibility. I am sure Becca has done the same. But she is my wife and I am her husband and I promised to be there, through thick and thin, autism or no. And for my kids, I am their daddy - I promised to provide for them, protect them, and teach them. I promised both of them the day they were born. They have no rings to prove it, but I remember telling both of them quietly as I walked the halls of the hospital holding them close to me, rocking them to sleep.
So go ahead autism - try to break me. You might do it, but the pieces of me will hold onto those whom I love - my wife, my kids, and our lives together. I will hold on until I can't any longer. I promise.