Marriage Monday!From Beth:
There is no greater blessing we can give our children than a strong marriage. It is dangerous I think to disregard the existence of the covenant relationship of marriage in adoption discussions. Dangerous for our marriages, and dangerous for our children. Adoption does not happen in a vacuum like that. As a matter of fact, for married parents, it is the existence of the marriage itself that has stirred hearts to adopt! It has been a joy for us at Hope at Home to encourage you in your marriage through our Marriage Monday series.
Urgent and Important?
It is so easy to become completely absorbed by the needs of your adopted child, and the siblings, and the whole adoption dynamic, that we can forget the needs of our own husband or wife, of the joy and priority of our marriage covenant. Author Stephen Covey speaks about the distinction between urgent and important. Some things are both urgent and important, aren't they? Getting your paperwork completed for your adoption or helping your newly adopted or foster child adjust to his new family are both urgent and important I would say. And some things are urgent, but they aren't that important in the big scheme of things-- like getting to the grocery store so there is something healthy for dinner, or cleaning up a mess. Of course, there are always those things that are neither urgent nor important too--I love a good game of fruit ninja!
I think one of the reasons it is easy for us to neglect our marriages is because for most of us, we easily recognize our relationship with our spouse is important, but it does not often present itself as urgent, especially in the comparison with the in-your-face needs of our children. The needs of our
children are very important of course, however you will find that they are almost always presented to us as Urgent. And because the needs of an adopted child feel so intense, both to our child and to us, it really seems like these needs are always both important and urgent! After 12 years of adoptive parenting one thing I know for sure, the needs of my children are extremely important to me, and they will be there waiting for me when I get home from a date with Stephen, or a weekend away.
The Needs of Our Children
There is such a strong pull on us parents to meet the needs of our children. We often feel this pull more than any other demand in our lives. And our adopted child's needs can be huge, like a gaping hole that can suck us in with it's urgency.
So, I know for some of us, especially my fellow mommies, this can be counterintuitive to make our marriage relationship a priority. Yet it is a higher priority than most adoption books will tell you. If the foundations of a building are being eaten away, over time the whole building will be wobbly and compromised. And it is clear to me that my marriage is the very foundation of our adoptions.
Your Marriage: An Effective Healing Agent
It is your marriage, your love relationship with your husband or wife, that is the context for your adoption. The environment of your marriage is like a greenhouse-- a divine ecosystem that yields life. But like any greenhouse, it must be maintained. The temperature, light and humidity levels, etc., all create this environment that is perfect for the plants to thrive. Our marriages have the possibility of being a life-giving atmosphere needed for our children to grow.
A healthy, strong, vibrant marriage is a more effective healing agent than we realize, more effective than focusing primarily on meeting the needs of your child I believe. Take a look at this inspiring list of benefits from Scott Means--
Benefits of a Strong Marriage:
- It models for your children what a sacrificial love looks like
- It gives them insight into the way God loves us
- It gives your children a greater sense of security--physical, emotional and spiritual
- It shifts the atmosphere of your home
- It demonstrates what healthy, loving relationships look like
- It influences the future of your children's marriages
- It strengthens husband and wife as individuals so they are better able to help their children.
Your relationship with your spouse is the constant in this adoption journey, friends. Our youngest of seven children just turned 18 last week, so I am here to tell you dear friends that when your children are grown and gone from your house, your husband or wife will still be there. And this covenant relationship you have together is worthy of the priority of our time and effort!
"And each one of them shall be like a hiding place from the wind and a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land." (Isaiah 32:2)
What ways have you found that work to help nurture your marriage in the context of your adoptive/foster family? I am always looking for new ideas! Leave us a comment!