Friday, July 22, 2011


What an honor it is to introduce you to our good friend, Scott Means. He runs an excellent and well-received marriage blog called Journey to Surrender, which we highly recommend. It is dedicated to renewing and strengthening marriages in the church through the exploration of biblical marriage principles.  He sums up his blog with the phrase: "Marriage was God's idea, so let's do it His way!"

Scott is one of the worship leaders at Northlands Church in Atlanta, where he has also led small groups on songwriting and marriage. We heard from his wife, Jenni, a few weeks ago in a post called "Wholeness and Healing."  They have been married for 29 years and have three wonderful daughters. Their ministry to adoptive families has touched many lives for eternity. They are ones God has called to come alongside, and they have done that well, and have learned much about the needs that arise from loving adopted children.

You will hear more from Scott at Hope at Home 2011 Conference. Register Today!

I’m so thankful to Hope at Home for offering me this opportunity to speak into the marriages of adoptive families. 

On my blog, I offer a “new reader survey,” where, among other things, I give readers a chance to let me know what topics they are most interested in reading more about.  Across the spectrum, men and women, newlyweds and 25+ year marriages, first marriages and previously divorced, by far the number one topic of interest is intimacy

I like to jest that even though both husbands and wives share an interest growing intimacy, men are often thinking “more sex” and women are typically thinking “more romance.” Truthfully, such stereotypical characterizations fall well short of what God intends for the fullness of intimacy in marriage.  The truth is that genuine intimacy involves our entire beings: spirit, soul (mind, will and emotions) and body.  This is what the Bible means when it declares that in marriage, “two shall become one flesh.”

You Can Have More
If you, like so many of my readers, desire to find more intimacy in your marriage (and I mean intimacy of all types) I’d like to offer you some encouragement:  you can have more!

But what do you do when huge life stresses like adoption seem to make increasing marital intimacy little more than a wishful notion or perhaps not even a remote possibility? 

My wife, Jenni, and I have not experienced the stress of adoption (although we did have a hugely stressful period of seven years with my live-in mother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease).  So for a little adoptive marriage insight, I turned to my blogger friends Brad and Kate Aldrich, who not only have a great marriage blog of their own, OneFleshMarriage, but also have experienced firsthand the stress that adoption can place on a marriage.

Kate describes the adoption stress that hit their marriage this way. “I think the biggest stress to our marriage was dealing with attachment issues.  Micah (who was 3 years old when we brought him home) was very attached to Brad when we came home and pretty much wanted nothing to do with me.  This was a shocker for me, but for Brad as well.”

You are no doubt aware how the emotional and physical demands that adoptive marriages face are significant and often long-lasting. You are probably also aware how these demands can rob your marriage of the intimacy you desire. 

“You live in a dream world,” Kate explains, “with a beautiful picture of your child, until you meet them and are faced with reality.  The little child in the picture comes with a personality, scars from their broken past, wants, needs, fears, etc.  The reality is wonderful in so many ways, but very overwhelming and draining.” 

The first step to restoring and growing intimacy in times of stress is to realize what is happening and decide to take steps to reverse it.  “You soon refocus and remember that the team approach, or one-flesh union, is the best way to handle all things kid related.  The best thing you can do for your kids is do what is best for your marriage.  We started showing Micah that while we understood he had to develop his attachment in his own way, we were not going to let him come between us.”

Brad and Kate’s point is hugely important!  In times of marital stress, when survival seems all you can hope for, you have to step back and realize that: a) the two of you are in this together, b) that your marriage is the second most important relationship in your life (next to your relationship with God), and c) the best thing you can do for your kids is to keep it in second place, even above the kids.  “So while adoption adds a huge stress to marriage, we would say that keeping your marriage as 2nd is the best thing you can do.  It may be one of the hardest, but it is for the best.”

So how do you do this?
Among the Aldirch’s recommendations:  “Keep up communication, and help each other out with daily tasks, so you can still find that quiet time together.  And don't hesitate to ask for help, if you are feeling overwhelmed.  Talk to others who have adopted, talk with your pastor or find a counselor who has experience with adoption.  Protecting your marriage when kids enter the picture (however they enter the picture) is so vital.”

It’s a bold statement, but I believe that you can have as much intimacy in your marriage as you want.  However, intimacy comes at a cost. It requires trust, vulnerability and purposeful attention, all of which are especially difficult when you are under stress.  Marital intimacy is a vast topic and a hugely important one. If you find yourself desiring more intimacy in your marriage amid the stress of adoption, I’d encourage you to explore the complete intimacy series on my blog by following the links below.

I also strongly encourage you to attend the upcoming Hope at Home Conference in September, which will not only greatly refresh and equip you in parenting your children, but will also be chance to focus on keeping your marriage strong in the midst of life's daily challenges. I'm honored to be among the guest speakers for this exciting conference.

Take heart.  Know that God’s desire is for the intimacy in your marriage to not just survive but to thrive, even when the stress seems overwhelming.  I strongly recommend that the two of you go to God in prayer together on behalf of your marriage and intercede together for increased intimacy.  This is a prayer that God longs to answer with a resounding, “Yes!”

1 comment:

  1. Scott- thanks so much for your post! You are so very right in saying that the best thing we can do for our kids is to invest in our marriages, keeping them strong and vibrant. It is extremely healthy for our children to see and understand that our marital relationship is first and foremost in family dynamics. Our children's needs and demands are very important, but they should never supersede or eclipse our marital relationship. Thanks for your insights on marital intimacy!