Marriage – it’s a messy business. Sometimes it comes naturally, other times not so much. Sometimes you feel all the love and warm and fuzzy things, and other times you just need to be alone.
Marriage isn’t easy no matter which way you slice it, but adding in the stress of adoption can be a heavy weight to carry for many couples. Days pass by slowly, heavy and complicated emotions ebb and flow, the stress of financial obligations can mount; it’s really no question why keeping your marriage strong throughout the adoption process can be… complicated.
As hard and complicated as it may feel, it’s important that your marriage does not take a backseat during your adoption journey. In fact, being attentive to your marriage is of pivotal importance during this time in your life; imagine how a healthy relationship will benefit your current and future children!
Keep in mind that marriage requires both partners to give 100% of their effort all the time. It takes two to tango, and it takes two to make a marriage work. Here are a few ways that you can keep your marriage strong, healthy, exciting, and fun even while you’re on the wild and crazy rollercoaster ride that is adoption.
8 ways to keep your marriage strong while waiting to adopt
1. Put that date night back on the calendar
Has it been a while since your last date night? It’s time to mark the calendar and bring date night back! You don’t need to do anything expensive. You don’t even need to spend any money at all! Plan a picnic lunch in the park. Spend the night cuddling under the covers watching a movie together, hold hand for a relaxing walk around the neighborhood. Have fun with this. The goal is that you carve out time for each other, no matter how crazy, chaotic or stressful your life might be.
2. Get a babysitter! Go on, splurge!
If you’re currently parenting or fostering, don’t feel guilty saying “shoo” by getting a babysitter for the night, or even for a few hours during the day for a quick day-date. In order to show up in a healthy way for your kids, you have to take care of yourself, and part of taking care of you means taking care of your marriage. If paying for a babysitter is not financially plausible, ask a family member for a favor!
3. Write one another love notes
Remember way back when pen and paper was a thing? Yeah, let’s bring that back, shall we? There’s something terribly romantic about love notes and a heartfelt note to your partner can go a long way for your marriage. Tuck a note to your partner in a place he or she will find it and maybe they’ll return the favor.
4. Pick a show you can watch together
There’s nothing better than cuddling up on the couch together to watch a good show. Think about all the bonding you can do over the excitement of Games of Thrones or another great show. TV shows are a great way to spend time together, especially if you already planned on watching that show in the first place. Now, the hard part really is: not skipping ahead while you wait for your partner to be ready to watch with you!
5. Exercise together
Couples who run together have fun together, right? Even if running isn’t your thing, pick an exercise that you both can bond over and make it apart or your schedule. Maybe you want to shoot some hoops together, hit a ball back and forth on a tennis court, or join a community volleyball team. Whatever it is that you enjoy sports-wise, your relationship will benefit from it.
6. Consider counseling
Counseling is often thought of as something you do when your marriage is on the decline. While that is certainly a reason to go to counseling, it is not the only one. Counseling is a great option to pursue when you’re going through a marriage transition in your life; adoption included. Stress, even positive stress, can be hard on a relationship. Seeing a counselor can help provide both of you with important tools to keep your marriage healthy and happy.
7. When you fight, fight clean
Waiting to adopt will surely spur some unexpected emotions, but it’s important not to let the stress of your adoption journey manifest into unnecessary stress on your relationship. Feelings of anger, sadness or disappointment are totally valid, but don’t necessarily justify snapping at your partner over silly things. If an argument does arise, take a minute to breathe and ask yourself whether you’re really angry with him or her or if the problem is rooted in frustration with your adoption process. Let go of your ego, and remember that for every minute you spend angry, you lose 60 seconds of happiness and joy. Plus it takes far less energy to be happy than it does to be angry. When it is time to argue, always keep the conversation clean, focused and fair.
8. Keep a journal
Writing in your own, private journal can help you process emotion and find the right words to describe how you are feeling. Avoid using a journal as a way for you to complain about your spouse; instead, use it as a tool to help you maintain a strong relationship. You may even consider inviting your partner to read parts of your journey to help him or her better understand your thought process and feelings.
Yes, marriage is hard, but a broken marriage is even harder. Putting energy into keeping your strong will save you heartache later on. No matter what happens or how hard things get, always remember that you are on the same team. Try out some of the suggestions above and if you have any additional ideas, please share them with us!