Caring for each other when your child has autism: 6 Ideas on marriage from the saints (Part 6)

Thanks so much for joining me to talk about marriage and autism. It’s the last day of the series, and today we discuss what the saints have to say about believing in your spouse.

Marriage part six

6. Believe in your spouse.

In Psalm 118:8,9, we read about trusting God rather than people.

“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.”

This, of course, is a different sort of trust or belief than what I’d like to address today.

I don’t wish to address the idolization of people, which amounts to a dysfunctional, needy sort of love. Today, I want to talk about hopeful belief in your spouse and how, without it, we cannot say that we love our spouses purely and well.

Without it, we certainly cannot begin to muscle this massive undertaking of parenting a child with autism.

And so, I call our attention first to a passage you likely heard at your wedding. Or someone else’s.

“(Love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:7 

Here’s what I take from that: to truly, purely, wholly love our spouses, we must protect his or her spiritual health by believing the best in him/her.

Don’t assume the worst. Assume the best. For instance,

  • If he takes your kid to the wrong school, don’t assume he’s disconnected and doesn’t care. Assume he’s having a bad day and help him out.
  • If she’s yelling at your child, don’t assume she’s depressed or abusive. Assume she’s feeling broken or lost and needs a plan.

What we know is that our spouses are human and will do stupid, mean, thoughtless things (especially under the pressure of a chronic condition like autism). We also know that, no matter who we picked, they’re going to have those moments.

What matters is that our spouses are beloved of God. He’s changing them, growing them. And we assume the goodness in that person is there, alive, but maybe struggling to emerge under the layers of IEPs, treatment plans, grant funding, and insurance skirmishes. And, you know, all the normal-people things to add on top of it like dirty dishes.

“Put up with the person who grieves you and creates temptations. Put up with him joyfully. Pray for him every day. Always try to do good to him, to commend him, to speak to him with love, and God will work His miracle and he will reform.” Elder Ephraim

And if hope and love seem impossible, here’s a bit of wisdom from St. Ambrose of Optina that I find tremendously comforting:

“If you find that there is no love in you, but you want to have it, then do deeds of love, even though you do them without love in the beginning. The Lord will see your desire and striving and will put love in your heart.”

So if all else fails, there’s always that.

Thank you so much for taking part in this series, and may God richly bless your marriages as you raise your special children. I leave you with this common prayer of married spouses. It’s a good one to pray daily. 🙂

O Merciful God, we beseech you ever to remind us that the married state is holy, and that we must keep it so; grant us your grace, that we may continue in faithfulness and love; increase in us the spirit of mutual understanding and trust, that no quarrel or strife may come between us; grant us your blessings, that we may stand before our fellows and in your sight as a holy family; and finally, by your mercy, account us worthy of everlasting life: for you are our sanctification, and to you we ascribe glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen. (From the Prayer Book in Accordance with the Tradition of The Eastern Orthodox Church, Saint Arseny of Konevets Press)

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