is: It's date night. Couples all over are heading out to dinner or maybe a movie or a show at the theatre. They are walking hand in hand along beaches in the moonlight. The more adventurous may be out hiking or camping for the weekend. Some may even be simply heading to the local pub for a drink and some socializing with friends over a game of pool. We were there once, years ago. We even kept it up after the kids came along. Not every weekend mind you, but Hubby and I still had time together doing things we enjoyed.
But then it happened.
My boy regressed into non-verbal Autism and had zero functional communications skills. We were devastated, confused and had no idea what to do. We had no idea how to deal with a child who lost all his words and just cried in an attempt to tell us anything at all. A child that stopped interacting with us and his siblings. A child that then began to throw up over 20 times a day. Yeah, the doctors didn't know what to do either. Needless to say - date night took a hiatus. If we didn't know how to take care of an infant in a toddler's body, how on earth would anyone else?
When the focus shifted to my son, everything else fell by the wayside. Every focus was on him. I mean, I thought my husband would be there forever, my son needed me NOW. Everyone says you 'need' to take date nights. But there was no way that was going to happen. We were tired and broke. We loved each other. That would be enough. The bond we were forming going through this challenge of parenting together was sure to mean we would overcome not focusing on each other. Man - 30 years into a relationship with my husband, I can tell you that thought process almost cost me my marriage AND my relationship with my children. When I tell you that you need to nurture your relationships, I mean it. I'm not saying it's easy. I'm saying it is necessary.
The good news is that it doesn't have to be complicated! This amazing trick will change your relationships with your spouse, but guess what? It is also amazing to start working on relationships with your kids, friends, family - yeah, everyone.
You know what you need to do? You know what one simple thing can change everything? It's super cheesy. But the fact is, it works!
It's time to start smiling. I'm not talking about those patronizing smiles. Or the half-hearted ones. Those were the ones I was giving. I'm talking abouut a genuine smile that conveys to those around you that you are genuinely happy that they are there in your life. So many times my husband walked through the door and I was so relieved to see him that I would look and say 'Thank goodness you are home! I just have to run to the bathroom, can you hold down the fort for me?' He felt like he was good for a paycheck and taking care of kids, he didn't feel like it mattered that it was HIM walking through the door. He was just an adult body who could handle the chaos. It breaks my heart now to see that my choice of greeting affected him in that way. How it taught my children to treat others, well that broke me to my core.
The best testimony
My son has since told me that he and his fiancee have had to work through learning how to treat each other because he saw me treating his father without genuine smiles. And let's be crystal clear. I was not mean. I said please, I didn't belittle my husband, I didn't yell at him in front of the children. But I also didn't smile at him and look genuinely happy to see him when he walked through the door.
Once I changed that ONE little thing, our whole marriage began to become something that I didn't even know could exist. My relationship with my children began to make a huge shift. My whole outlook on life, my mood, how I felt deep down in my very core was changing in a way that brought me so much peace.