Married with Special Needs Children: A Couple's Guide to Keeping Connected
by Laura E. Marshak, PhD, and Fran Pollock Presant, Med, CCC-SLP, Woodbine House, Bethesda, MD, 2007, 296 pp, $24.95, Paperback.
MARRIED WITH SPECIAL-NEEDS CHILDREN is not only the first book that parents of children with special needs should read, but also an excellent resource for any couple with children, of any age. It is easy to get caught up in the stresses of every-day life, and those stresses are often significantly magnified for parents of children with special needs. This book is a wonderful guide to couples on how to stay connected, how to work as a team, and how to support each other.
Laura Marshak and Fran Pollack Prezant draw from their professional and personal lives to write this informative guide. Both have children with disabilities and long-standing marriages. Dr. Marshak is a psychologist who has a clinical practice and Ms. Prezant is a speech pathologist who has directed parent training and support programs. They received information through comments, interviews, and completed surveys from hundreds of parents of children with broad range of special needs, including physical disabilities, developmental disabilities, and mental health problems.
The chapters cover elements of a good marriage, necessary adjustments to a newborn child, the grieving process endured by parents of children with disabilities, along with suggested solutions to problems, guides to good communication, and the importance of romance and sexuality. The many parents quoted and the authors provide ideas for stress management, coping strategies, use of outside supports, and recovery after difficulties in marriages, even extra-marital affairs. The later chapters also address issues of failed marriages and divorce considerations, co-parenting, and remarriages. The appendices include more caveats from experienced parents who continue in successful marriages, resources, and suggested readings.
Marriage usually begins with love and romance. Often, when parenthood follows, there is mixture of joy and apprehension. However, if the foundation of the marriage is not solid, the balancing act of caring for children with special needs and dedicating time and energy to the marital relationship may be precarious, at best. MARRIED WITH SPECIAL-NEEDS CHILDREN is THE guide to “keeping connected,” taking actions, and making decisions to enhance marriage, despite the stresses and strains that may be present.
Robin Blitz-Wetterland, MD
Arizona Child Study Center
St. Joseph's Hospital, Phoenix, Arizona