Guest Blog…Cindi and Joe Ferrini

Our guest bloggers today are Inclusion Fusion speakers Joe and Cindi Ferrini Joe and Cindi are the authors of Unexpected Journey: When Special Needs Change Our Course. Their blog post today is on the subject Marriage Matters-and so do other relationships!

Imagine five people lying side by side on the waterbed, Lavoie said. If one person moves the whole family feels it. “If there’s a special needs child, that bed can really get moving.” A learning disability can also create discord in a couple’s marriage, he said. The divorce rate in the U.S. is 50 per cent. But in families with a learning disability it’s closer to 70 per cent. (Authors’ note: Since then some say, 80%)

– Sarnia Observer (Ontario), 11/8/05.

Because of these statistics, many are single parents, but whether single or married, we need the support of others.

Building a strong marriage needs to be done in all aspects of that marriage:  emotionally, physically, and spiritually – and its hard work! This short blog will share some tips that will also coincide with the INCLUSION FUSION Nov. 3-5-A “stay at home” conference with Keynote speaker Chuck Swindoll:

In order to make marriage work, Joe and I have had to Divide and Conquer! That would mean splitting up and one of us accomplishing something while the other “mans the fort”. It’s not always our first choice, not fun, but it’s what works! The idea for YOU, is to consider how this technique would work for you. Here are a few ways we made it work:

  1. In the early days, one of us would go to church. The other would stay home with Joey (and our girls, sometimes). The one at home would bundle up and pack up the car with the children, meet whoever was at church and trade places. That worked during those years when we could have Joey with us IN church and when there was no place to put him AT church.
  2. If Joe was asked to speak somewhere or meet with someone, I’d be the one to manage things at home, and he would do the same for me when I’d have opportunity to go out.
  3. Additionally it’s important to Pamper Your Marriage!  We can’t do life as usual for very long without some kind of relief from the pressures of caring for another’s full-time needs. You can join at INCLUSION FUSION for the full topic, but here are a few ideas to make marriage work when one is caring for another with special needs:
  • Plan intimacy
  • Take time to sit and talk, hold hands, take a walk
  • Grocery shop together and make a recipe together.
  • Plan a weekend away when you have opportunity. Just don’t forget to come home.

TALKING THINGS OUT is crucial to a marriage. That takes time. Here are a few ideas (more will be shared at INCLUSION FUSION) that will help you think what might work for YOU:

  • Write out “care issues”
  • Talk through decisions until mutually coming to an agreement (working through smaller pieces of the decision rather than the big chunk)
  • Offer solutions without judging or jumping to conclusions
  • Show respect for each other’s ideas

FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS certainly include extended family – the children we have and our own siblings. This relationship can be tricky because we need to accept help but not take advantage of those who offer help.

We wanted all of our own children to be treated the same but knowing there are some things the person with special needs would need that they won’t. Because of that, we were careful not to ask or expect our own children to care for our son unless we asked them to do so like we would of a babysitter, and then followed through with also financially compensated them. We never wanted them to feel obligated all the time to care for their brother.

We made sure to have family rules, which included the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12, “Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do so for them” and Mark 12:31, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” If we could follow that, we thought we’d be able to set a good example for our children, neighbors, teachers, etc. Also, we always desired to work as a TEAM (Together Each Accomplishes More).

Family meetings and goal planning were always tops on our list as a family, so we knew we were all on the same page, and no one could say they felt left out or unimportant. Everyone had a “say” at our meetings!

OTHERS: Friends , teachers, aides, administrators, people at church, Key Ministry.

Joni and Friends are folks to keep near us for the well being and help in development and learning of our child with special needs. Our goal? BUILD BRIDGES rather than BURN BRIDGES. These people will give us help in getting to the next step of life. Not everyone will be able to help and be a part of our child’s journey, but it’s important to give as much help and advice (to those willing to learn) so they can be of help and assistance for YOUR life journey. Not all advice we will receive will be helpful, but we can accept it, try it, and use what works – disregarding the rest.

We look forward to being with you Nov. 3-5 at Inclusion FusionJoin us, will you?

Articles by and Interviews with Joe and Cindi:

Familylife Today: – 3 days of programming called Unexpected Journey from their book (2/09) UNEXPECTED JOURNEY – WHEN SPECIAL NEEDS CHANGE OUR COURSE

  • June 29, 2009 Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine interview Joe and Cindi on FAMILYLIFE today radio. Topic: Facing a Painful Reality:
  • June 30, 2009 Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine of FAMILYLIFE TODAY interview Joe and Cindi. The topic is: Embracing Life’s Changes

Online Broadcasts:

Focus on the Family


  • Unexpected Journey, When Special Needs Change Our Course – Dr. Joe and Cindi share their journey of caring for their son with special needs and their parents with Alzheimer’s.
  • Balancing the Active Life – an interactive Bible study for anyone of any age – the goal of this 13-week study is to challenge and encourage the participant to prioritize the activities they believe are the most important in their life, with Christ being the center and the focus of all that they do.
  • Get it Together – an organizational planner
  • ‘Tis the Season – a Christmas planner to keep the holiday less stressful and more meaningful


Email us via our website!

Cindi and Joe, along with more than twenty leaders in children’s ministry and disability ministry are coming together on November 3rd-5th to put on a FREE Special Needs Ministry Web Summit to connect church staff, volunteers, family members and caregivers everywhere. That’s Inclusion Fusion, Key Ministry’s First Annual Special Needs Ministry Web Summit, featuring Keynote Speaker Chuck SwindollRegister here for the Summit!

About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
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