I think we can all agree: children take a lot of time and energy. With this realization, we need to consider our marriage when beginning the fostering or adopting journey as well as keep it in check along the journey itself. Let's take a look at both sides of the coin.
Prior to starting the process to foster or adopt, it is vital to take a look at your marriage. How many years have you been married? How do you handle conflict? What are your boundaries pre-child(ren)? How do you care for yourself? How well do you care for your spouse? These are all great questions to ask.
While their is not one recipe for success, understanding where you are in your marriage at the time of taking the plunge into foster care or adoption is absolutely key. You want to make sure you both are on the same page. You both want to make sure what you are getting yourself in to. You both want to make sure you know that “alone time” may be non-existent for some time, or at least until the kids go to bed.
Once you’ve covered those bases, you start the journey, and you get your first placement. Of course, we’re fast forwarding at a high rate of speed here, but you don't have all day to read a novel, right? Ok, cool…
You have your placement and the child is amazing! Regardless of how great they are, they still are dealing with trauma, loss, and other things whether seen or unseen. They always want your undivided attention. “Mommy”, “Daddy” ring from their mouth for what seems like 5 million times a day.
How do you keep your marriage alive and healthy during this time?
Start Small. Two small things that make a world of difference. Number One: Change your expectations. Understand that this is a season and that a lot of your time in the beginning will be focused on your child(ren). They need your love and attention so that they feel safe and secure in their new environment. Number Two: When/If you come home from work, be sure the first thing you do is kiss, hug, whatever you do, do it to your wife first. This does two things. First, it makes your wife feel loved and respected as she deserves. Secondly, it shows your children what a healthy marriage looks like. Again, two small, but impactful things.
Date Nights. Keep date nights on the calendar. With the understanding that you may not have them as often, enlist friends, family, anyone you know and trust to help babysit for a couple of hours in order for you and your wife to get a night out on the town. Shoot for once a month and get that time where it is just you and your wife with no kids. While it may be incredibly difficult and sound crass, try not to bring the kids up on the date night. Focus on yourselves, dream a little bit, and enjoy the quiet.
Fight Exhaustion. Let’s be real. You’ve just worked all day. Your wife has probably been home with the kids all day and you are both exhausted. All you want to do is put the kids down and go to bed yourself. Fight. That. Urge. Some days it’s going to be impossible, and that’s ok. But plan fun things to do after the kids go to bed. Play games, watch a movie, have adult conversation, the possibilities are endless. The key is to make that time special. Even if you are not interacting, be in the same room and in close proximity.
Your marriage is important. It is vital that you keep your love alive. In doing so, you show your child(ren) what a good marriage looks like. It shows your boys how to treat a lady, and it shows your little girl how she is to be treated.
Keep your marriage in check.