Team GR: Marriage is difficult to begin with and requires a strong partnership and even stronger communication. What happens if you add an autism diagnosis into the family? We caught up with Meygan and Casey Caston, the founders of Marriage 365 to see how they managed their journey and kept their love alive.
How early or late into your marriage was your son diagnosed? How did it affect your family dynamic?
We were married for eight years when we welcomed home Cordell. From day one, we noticed that our son was not hitting certain developmental milestones. Meygan was a preschool teacher with a good understanding that something was not right. By 18 months, we took him to get tested and they put him on the spectrum.
With the diagnosis came so many emotions, but the best decision was for Meygan to quit her job and make this her full time focus. Thanks to early intervention and petitioning for as much therapy as possible, our son is doing so much better.
What were the biggest challenges you faced as a married couple, raising a child with special needs?
Your whole mindset has to shift to focus on making sure that you have enough capacity to manage the additional tasks of raising a child with special needs. You have to protect that capacity.
By year three, we were headed straight towards divorce. We were ashamed that our marriage was falling apart and felt like we could do nothing about it. It was a very, very lonely time.
How did you overcome those challenges? What needed to happen before you overcame that hump?
When a couple works together as a team, they can accomplish anything. We had to remind ourselves, there’s no one to blame here. We have to do this as one, not divided.
Out of complete despair, we were challenged with the idea that in order to make your marriage work, you have to CHOOSE love 365 days a year. In a small act of courage, we tried it… and it worked! It gave us one small step in the right direction, but for the first time we experienced HOPE.
What are your top tips for another couple struggling to keep their marriage strong following an autism diagnosis?
- You have to read your partner and see when they’ve hit their max. This has to be something you do for each other.
- Give your spouse the day off so they can recharge and be ready to parent again.
- Be aware that your marriage is at risk and don’t leave your marriage on auto pilot.
- You’ve got to find ways to invest in each other, learning how to do marriage better, getting away together, having fun as a couple.
What is Marriage365 and how did it originate?
We are nonprofit focused on creating resources for couples to find connection in their marriage. It came from our own stories of failing miserably at it and sharing how we turned things around. We reach over 2 million couples online with a message of hope to a broken hearted world.
Why is this service so important to families affected by autism?
We know first hand that our children need the best of us and we can’t do that when our marriage is falling apart. Too many couples fool themselves in believing that they can be a good parent in a terrible marriage. We don’t teach our kids through what we say, but how we love others around us. They are watching our courage to choose love in some of the hardest times. That’s what they will remember.
Why is your family #MoreThanAutism?
We choose to focus on the positive traits that our kids have, rather than a label that says they are not enough. We see and encourage all the wonderful gifts that our son has to offer the world!