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Not a Very Holy Family, by Kate Anderson

It was the Feast Day of the Holy Family. I remember like it was yesterday. I remember because I felt like we were anything but a holy family. My husband and I were fighting again. We were always fighting. We seemed to always fight on Sunday. We actually talked about separation. I never thought it'd get to that place. It seemed like God was nowhere to be found in our marriage.

We needed a change. Having kids with special needs is hard. We were stressed about finances. Our kids weren't good sleepers. They needed our constant attention. I needed help with them but felt like I wasn't getting it from my husband. Except he was helping. He was doing everything he could. We both were. That December 29th was the day I finally realized we didn't need more help, this was how it was going to be. Three kids are hard and we were outnumbered. We had to make this work as it was.

Something needed to change or our marriage was going to end. I couldn't imagine doing that to our kids. At the time I felt so bad for them. We were always yelling at each other. We could never agree on anything. We had different parenting styles. Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. That number goes up to 80% when special needs are involved. We decided to work on our marriage in the new year.

First we went on a marriage retreat. It was only a half-day one, but it was definitely worth it. We learned how to communicate better and help each other during the day. We learned our selfishness was getting in the way and how to be more giving to one another. We learned how important it is to respect each other. For Valentine's Day I bought a date jar with 52 date ideas inside; all things we've never done before. We needed something different to do together besides dinner and movie. We made our marriage our number one focus for the year, so we tried our hardest to make time for each other and for dates.

We certainly couldn't do a date per week, but we did some very fun and different things. We went to a comedy show; a first for both of us. We saw a ventriloquist; another first. We went to a showing of Gross Pointe Blank, then saw a live Q&A with John Cusack. We did a painting class together. We went on a trip to L.A. for our 5-year anniversary. It was a vacation we desperately needed; a break and recharge from our daily busyness. Thank God for supportive grandparents for watching our kids so we could make that possible. We also went to a three-day conference where we learned how to advocate for our kids within the education system. A nice quick getaway that once again couldn't be possible without the help of our parents.

My family certainly isn't perfect. But my husband and I found God again by praying together and practicing patience with each other and our children. Our marriage grew so much this year in faith, hope, and definitely love. We may not be the Holy Family, but we are holier than we have been in a long time.

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