While this analysis suggests that our marriages aren’t statistically at higher risk than the general population, we know from experience that parenting kids from hard places is stressful (#understatement) and stress can expose any weakness your marriage might have. I reached out to a large network of post-placement parents and here’s what they said (over and over again):
Acknowledgement. Loving a hard child will impact your marriage, so let’s just work on that assumption. No exceptions. No immunity.
Sense of Humor. You need one. The darker and more sardonic, the better?
Counseling. Honestly? Agencies should require that you secure a competent therapist and start seeing him or her regularly before placement…alone and together. Banking away years’ worth of therapy appointments should be part of the adoption fee breakdown. Pre-placement is the ideal time to figure out any “issues” you have personally and in your marriage. This is also a great time to define a parenting style that you both agree on.
Relevant Article: Find the right mental health professional.
Alone time. Trust me. I get it. This isn’t easy. But it’s imperative that you figure it out. Get creative. Schedule time after the kids are in bed (or before they are up). Trade babysitting with another family. Pawn them off on the Y’s Stay ‘n Play or some other fitness gym with childcare. Work out if that’s helpful, but otherwise hide away in a corner and just enjoy the childless time. Maybe hit up a family changing room for a steamy rendezvous? Just remember that the cost of date nights or a Y membership is cheaper than a divorce lawyer.
The details. Get organized in the other details of life so you can focus communicating about deeper things other than who will be home to get Johnny from soccer. An app like Cozi can help.
Benefit of the doubt. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt and a lot of grace and mercy. Just like we practice in connected parenting, stay on the same “side.” Choose your spouse. Choose your marriage. If you feel like you want to argue with me on this, go back to the section on counseling.
Partnering with connection. All those tools you learn in connected parenting? They all work on EVERYBODY…especially your spouse.
Last but not least, my favorite piece of advice submitted…
Keep a smile on your face and your big mouth shut!
If your marriage is surviving parenting kids from hard places, what would you add?