Maintaining a Healthy Marriage During the Wait

by | Feb 7, 2024 | Adoptive Families Blog

Young smiling couple working in the kitchen togetherThe domestic adoption process can be an exciting, nerve-wracking, and overwhelming time. Between preparing for a new child to join your family, setting up your home study, preparing your adoption profile, and budgeting for fees, it is easy to forget to take the time to focus on each other. However, working to strengthen your marriage will impact those around you, most importantly your future child.
 
Concentrate on cementing the foundation of your relationship. A healthy relationship will benefit your current and future children. Plus, birth mothers desire a stable, two-parent home for their children. Many birth parents choose adoption because those two attributes are something that they cannot provide at this point in their lives.
 

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The Keys to Keeping a Healthy Marriage

In recognition of National Marriage Week, which begins today and runs through Valentine’s Day, I’m sharing tips on strengthening your marriage. While it is important to focus on the tasks needed to help you achieve your adoption dream, be sure to allocate time with each other that does not involve talking about adoption.
 
Adoption and infertility treatments can be stressful for your marriage, so having the solid foundation of a healthy marriage is essential. Soon enough, you will be moving into another phase of your lives and very busy caring for your baby.
 

Communicate With Each Other

While communication is important to any healthy relationship, poor communication can tear them apart. If each of you is intent on winning the other one over to your way of thinking, neither of you is really listening.
 
As Amber Lewis, a licensed counselor who works with families during the home study process and post-adoption, says, “It is vital that couples go into an adoption with a relationship characterized by strong communication, cooperation, respect, and love. The challenges of adoption often exacerbate weaknesses in marriages, and it can be devastating for the whole family if those weaknesses grow. But, if a couple is strongly committed to each other with firm grounding in their love, roles, and mutual respect, the family is much better prepared to successfully weather the stress that can come with building a family by adoption.”
 
In a marriage, you need to believe that what is best for you as a couple must come before what is best for you as individuals. Try to understand and find what is best for your marriage instead of trying to win an argument. Truly listen to one another and try to find ways to compromise.
 
You can establish better communication by setting clear expectations and then reevaluating those expectations. If you go into marriage thinking that your spouse should do certain things or behave a certain way, you’ll end up frustrated and wonder what went wrong when they don’t live up to expectations.
 
A practical way to communicate better is to have a weekly meeting about schedules and division of labor. And since many couples argue about finances, you might regularly review your budget together.
 

Maintain a Healthy Connection

It’s essential to seek care from and care for your spouse to have a healthy relationship. Doing so allows us to connect with your spouse at a deeper level. Therefore, it’s crucial to ask yourselves questions like, “Can I share my problems with my spouse? Do I seek comfort from them or push them away? Am I afraid of rejection?”
 
Many people find it challenging to be comfortable with themselves. They enter marriage looking for a partner who completes them rather than complementing them. One way to maintain a healthy connection is by finding something fulfilling and enjoyable outside of parenting and marriage.
 
Having the freedom to express yourself and feel heard is also crucial to staying connected in a relationship. It strengthens a couple’s bond when both partners feel free to disagree and work towards a peaceful resolution.
 

Deal With Conflict

Conflict is inevitable in any relationship, including marriage. Each of us comes with our own unique histories and experiences, which can sometimes result in disagreements. However, when a couple is aligned around parenting, finances, and communication, conflicts tend to be minimal.
 
It’s important to work through any problems that arise due to our histories and expectations. We can’t let past hurts and relationships get in the way of our marriage. Sometimes, getting on the same page can be challenging, but challenging each other will make you better individuals and a stronger couple.
 
Dealing with disagreements in ways that build a stronger relationship is crucial for your marriage. Think of your marriage like a living, growing organism that requires ongoing effort and attention. You’re both responsible for creating a safe and healing home for yourselves and your family. While you won’t be able to resolve every conflict immediately, you can strive always to move forward together and strengthen your relationship.
 

Five Fun Ways to Reconnect and Energize Your Marriage

  1. Take time to sit together and just talk
  2. Avoid talking about adoption or what is on the news. Reminisce about fun times, and share amusing stories with each other from when you were growing up.

    The saying “Laughter is good for the soul” is very true. Laughter releases endorphins that make us feel great. When you laugh with your spouse it’ll bring you closer and enhance your emotional connection.

    Young couple enjoying sushi and wine together

  3. Have a date night
  4. Chances are, it’s been a while since your last date night. So it’s time to put date night on your calendar! It can be simple and inexpensive, like packing a picnic lunch and going to a park. Hold hands while you walk around the neighborhood or get takeout and spend the night enjoying a movie together.

    No matter how crazy, chaotic, or stressful your life might be right now, the goal is that you carve out time for each other.

  5. Exercise together
  6. Some say that couples who run together have fun together. Choose an exercise you can bond over and make it part of your schedule. You might plan to volley the ball back and forth on a tennis court, shoot hoops together, or participate in a class at your local gym. No matter what kind of activity you select, your relationship will benefit from it.

  7. Get a babysitter
  8. If you’re parenting or fostering right now, don’t feel guilty for getting a babysitter for the night. It could be just a few hours during the day.

    To show up in a healthy way for your kids, you must take care of yourself. Part of this self-care involves taking care of your marriage. If paying for a babysitter isn’t in your budget, you might ask a family member.

  9. Surprise each other
  10. Commit to surprising your spouse once or twice a week with a treat. Whether it is a special outing, breakfast in bed, or even taking over a chore they usually do, they will appreciate it. Do a little something to make your spouse feel special and loved.

A Healthy Marriage and Adoption

Once you have decided to adopt, it will become a large part of your marriage. It will take time and work. Between completing paperwork, creating your profile, and meeting deadlines, it may feel like there is no time for anything else, but there is. Make sure to set aside time for fun and love. You have to continue to live your life as you go through the adoption process.
 
You may also experience different emotions at different times as you navigate your adoption experience. Be patient and understanding with each other. If one of you is feeling overwhelmed or anxious, try to be the strong one.
 
The wait to be chosen by birth parents can be difficult, and you will need true teamwork. Trust each other to be there during hard or emotional times. Always lean in, not out. You are working on building your family, and you two are the foundation.
 

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on May 27, 2020, and has since been updated. 

Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.

Written by Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.

Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).

Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.

“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!

Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.

I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.

It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”

Read More About Mardie Caldwell

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