Invest in Your Children by Investing in Your Spouse

9
Jul
With children in your home, after struggling through infertility issues, and/or after waiting for an adoption to be finalized, it can be easy to focus on your children, perhaps more than you focus on your marriage. It is important to be an attentive parent, and children can take a lot of energy and time, regardless of age. Whether you intend to or not, it is easy to start seeing your spouse as a parenting help more than a life partner. With children under foot, it is difficult to get any quality time alone.

You have likely heard the Theodore Hesburgh quote "The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother”; however, I would say that the most important thing parents can do for their children is to model a loving relationship. You are modeling the relationship after which your children are most likely to pattern their own relationships. Your children also find security in a stable, loving environment. Just like children, maintaining a healthy relationship can take energy and dedication. Adding children to a family is a stressor that can, in some cases, damage the marital relationship.

The good news is there seems to be less incidences of divorce in families that adopt. This is theorized to be due to the home study and education process that identifies any possible concerns and teaches healthy strategies and coping techniques. It is also more likely that families will seek the help of a professional therapist once they have been introduced to caring people in the field through their adoption agency.

Unfortunately, in those cases when divorce does occur in their family, children that were adopted are reminded of and experience again the loss of their birth parents. For those children that have been involved with foster care or had multiple care givers throughout their life, they are reminded of each loss. In such cases, children can start doubting if any family will truly be "forever". If you are faced with marital problems that will result in divorce don’t forget to talk openly & honestly with your children, assure them that it is not their fault, get them counseling, preferably with an adoption specialist, if they would like it, respect their other parent, and give them lots of attention and affection.

Prioritizing your children’s health and happiness sometimes means not focusing on them and focusing instead on providing a stable, loving home for them. Make sure you get quality time alone with your spouse. Create a regular date night. Find ways to show your appreciation to your spouse. Let your children see what a healthy, loving relationship can be.

Brooke Randolph, LMHC, is a parent, therapist, and founding team member of MLJ Adoptions, Inc. with more than 20 years of experience working with children and families. She is the mental health expert contributor at DietsInReview.com, a national diet and fitness column; a private practice counselor in Indianapolis, Indiana; and the Vice President of PR, Outreach, and Communications at KidsFirst. She is a single adoptive mother who has authored adoption education materials and presented at numerous conferences and workshops throughout North America. Brooke is primarily motivated to encourage, equip, and empower parents and individuals to make changes that strengthen their lives, their careers, and their families.