How this autism mom stays married

“How have you stayed married?” asked the young autism mom, “I hear the divorce rate is high for parents of children with autism.”

I have  heard that statistic in so many different versions over the years, so did my own informal poll here.

There is a secret to staying married, whether you have a child with autism or not.

This is PART 5 of my summer series featuring versions of my best loved blog posts about raising a son with autism.





Looking AARPy is our matching shirts 29 years later

Looking AARPy is our matching shirts 29 years later

There are obvious ways that parents of children with autism should nurture their marriage, but the not so obvious reason that has worked for the Shumaker’s is this:

We are nice to each other.

Here are just a few examples from the archives of our 29 years:

1) When it was  a bad day, and the kids were sick and I was stuck at home all day and completely STIR CRAZY, I learned to resist the urge to say “YOUR TURN!” and race out the door the second my husband got home.(It took me a while to master that one…) We hugged and kissed and I smiled at him (even when I had to force it). I waited about a minute and said “I’m going nuts. I think I’ll go to the book store for a little bit. Is that OK?” When I got home, the kids were bathed and in their jammies. (This was not automatic. It took some time and some counseling for Peter to learn this.)

2)Peter got up with the boys every Saturday for a lot of years and made pancakes with them and watched Disney movies so that I could sleep.

3) When Peter asks me what I want for my birthday, and I give him a few ideas but then he gets me something that I didn’t ask for and I’m not too thrilled with it, I thank him profusely instead of complaining.(This was another  learned behavior–did not come naturally.)

4) I let my Peter vent without giving advice. He LEARNED to do the same.

5) When we crack under the pressure of life and scream and yell at each other, we try no to let the kids hear, and we hold back on the personal attacks. That would not be nice.

6) We joke around. We try to look nice for each other. We compliment each other. We tell each other if we’re angry about something because we recognize that we are not mind readers. We apologize when we should. When one of us slips and gets snarky with the other, all we have to say to turn things around is “be nice.”

Are you nice?


More information about autism/marriage statistics here :80% statistic is a myth


You might also be interested in:

How I Learned to Stop Criticizing and Be Nice to My Husband

It’s Not About the Nail 

Beautiful Advice from a Divorced Man after 16 years of Marriage

How is your marriage holding up?





Do you have questions? Contact me HERE and I will do my very best to help.


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  1. I really do think Parents of Autistic kids equally share the responsibility, because when Autism is in the house, it takes everything each parent has to help their family get through. My husband steps us a lot to help with my son, and I know I’m blessed.

  2. Really encouraging, thank you! Inspires me to write about my husband and myself and how we do it too! Thank you

  3. Very encouraging. It sounds so simple, but I really need to work on being kind. Sometimes it’s so hard when we feel so isolated.

  4. Many thanks! I value this!

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