Often, when you’re in the trenches of parenting children with major special needs, the most important relationship you have begins to suffer. How do you keep your marriage healthy in the midst of very difficult circumstances with your children?
I met my husband 20 years ago this winter. I saw him across the lobby of the student center at our college campus. I hoped he would notice me and when he did I shook his hand and smiled the warmest smile I could muster on that cold January evening. He asked me out a few weeks later and I was excited to get to know him. From that moment on, we enjoyed spending as much time together as possible. We studied at the library, took walks around campus, visited the art museum where admission was free. We didn’t need to do anything fancy. Time together was all we wanted.
One of the biggest areas of our life that pays the price when the journey becomes difficult, is our marriage. How do you maintain health when you’re constantly on overload and maxed out?
We weren’t prepared for the toll that foster care would take on our marriage when we first began the journey 13 years ago. There we sat, in our empty living room, looking at one another as if we were acquaintances and not life partners. We were tired, defeated, frustrated, and drained of all energy. We weren’t prepared for some of the special needs that some of our children had. Because we loved them deeply, we were pouring every ounce of emotional and spiritual energy we had into them.
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Two-thousand-sixteen was an amazing year with many new milestones and accomplishments. We traveled to more than 30 states around the country speaking to foster and adoptive parenting groups, our podcast, Honestly Speaking averaged over 4000 downloads a month, and our monthly readership grew from 50,000 to more than 100,000 readers a month. By November we received news that we now had readers in more than 25 countries around the globe. Hundreds of thousands of awesome foster and adoptive parents have found community through Confessions and we couldn’t be more grateful. But we’re far from the finish line. We want to make 2017 even better than 2016 for our audience!
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It’s not always the case, but often, men can be the toughest nut to crack when it comes to the adoption journey. I know from personal experience. There are a few reasons why this happens, and some key steps you can take to change his mind.
Back in the day, before we got married, I said no to just about everything. In fact, if shaking my head was an Olympic sport, I would have taken the gold. I was such a difficult person to get along with in those days. One of the biggest topics Kristin and I disagreed over was parenting. Sitting in my metallic blue Pontiac Firebird one cold November night, in the fall of 1998, we had a
discussion fight over parenting. Kristin wanted to adopt. I did not. At all. Period. Case closed. End of discussion. Or, so I thought.
Over the past 17 years, we’ve discovered that many things create a healthy and happy home. The biggest? Putting the health of our marriage above our children.
It’s usually 8:30 when I give the first warning shot to my two teenaged daughters. At 9pm, I say, “Fifteen minutes till it’s time for you two to head upstairs.” I repeat this nearly every night. And nearly every night they argue. “But why do we have to go to bed at 9;15,” they lament. “We’re not children anymore.”
In October 2011, Kristin and I found out we were pregnant. Since we were adoptive parents already, this came as a bit of a surprise to us. We had never been down this parenting road before. However, we lost the baby the very next month. It was painful and confusing. I wrote the following words in the days that loomed after our miscarriage.
I walk out of a crowded Apple store and unwrap the plastic from my new iPhone earbuds. I’ve been needing a new pair. The original had lost their kick. Between working out and the drives to and from my office, the time had come for new ones. It had been over a year. 15 months to be exact. That’s probably 50 years in Apple years.
If there’s one thing that pays the price the most in foster care (or adoption), it’s the health of your marriage. How do you maintain the most important relationship you have and care for the children who have been placed in your home?
We stood on opposite ends of our kitchen staring at one another, tired, defeated, and barely awake. The sad part? It was 8pm on a Saturday. We weren’t this tired because we were well into our 30’s. We could have made a great case for ourselves if so. No, this was the work of parenting.
We are honored to be speaking at The 7 Rings Of Marriage Online Summit with Jackie and Stephana Bledsoe, happening January 12-19, 2016. The great news? It’s entirely online. Click below to join and receive email notifications for each session of the summit…