I recently came across research that compared specific daily couple experiences over a 14 day period between those who have a child on the spectrum and those that don't. The research was conducted by researchers from a University in the USA, reference to the full article is below. The researchers collected the information using daily diaries left with the families. The researchers looked specifically at five dimensions, time with partner, partner support, partner closeness, positive couple interactions and negative couple interactions.
You might be reading this and thinking that the results would be obvious, but you may be surprised, parents with a child on the spectrum had:
- no significant difference in partner support
- no significant difference in negative couple interaction
- reported spending less time with partners,
- reported less partner closeness for the father, more so than the mother
- experienced less positive couple interactions
I think the take out from the research for me is that I never thought of a relationship in a structured way like that and trust me I need structure! Regardless of whether your child is on the spectrum or not, its worth keeping those five relationship dimensions front of mind when thinking about the health of your relationship.
Reference: Hartley, Sigan L., DaWalt, Leann Smith, Schultz, Haley M, Daily Couple Experiences and Parent Affect in Families of Children with Versus Without Autism, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2017.