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Adoptive Parents: How to Maintain a Strong Relationship with Your Spouse/Partner

Strong Marriage after AdoptionThe adoption process, while incredibly rewarding, can put a strain on even the healthiest of relationships.

“No doubt adoption is stressful for the child, but it is also stressful for the parents,” says Dawn Davenport, Creating a Family. “It’s not only the child’s life that has been turned upside down.”

Maintaining a Strong Relationship with Your Spouse/Partner Post Adoption

“The greatest gift you can give your child is a healthy and happy relationship with your spouse [or partner],” says Davenport. Below are several tips to help you do just that.

Take Time to Be a Couple

“We’re so accustomed to making our children the center of our world, but experts say that your marriage needs just as much nurturing,” says Holly Robinson, Parents.

With so much emphasis on your child (and rightly so), it’s not uncommon to inadvertently neglect your spouse or partner.

“It is so easy in the thralls of new parenthood to be completely obsessed with your new baby or child,” says Davenport. “It is also pretty common to be completely overwhelmed by the demands of new motherhood/fatherhood.”

Parenthood can be allconsuming if we let it. So, it is important to take a step back and realize that you need to take a bit of time to just be a couple. Hello, date night!

“I credit our commitment to date nights with the strength of my long-standing marriage and with maintaining my sanity in parenting four kids,” says Davenport. “I firmly believe that you can have securely attached kids and a strong mutually satisfying relationship with your spouse.”

  • Just Be Together: One of the most important things adoption helped my partner and I realize was that we needed to put our marriage first, even though we both wanted to spend every minute and all our energy on our daughter,” says Emily Westbrooks, Romper.
  • Try Something New: “It’s important to find new ways to connect and keep your relationship fresh,” says Linda Waite, PhD, a sociologist at the University of Chicago.
  • The Three A’s: No matter what you choose to do to remain close, it is important to express the three A’s during your daily routine – affection, appreciation, and admiration – says researcher John Gottman, PhD, author of And Baby Makes Three.

Children NEED Some Freedom

“A fun relationship with your partner is not only good for you; it is crucial to your kids,” says Davenport.

Don’t feel guilty that you need to take time to work on your marriage and just be with your spouse or partner. You aren’t neglecting your child. Quite the opposite really. David Anderegg, a child psychologist in Lenox, Massachusetts remembers vividly what one young patient told him – “I wish my parents had some hobby other than me.” The reality is that children NEED some degree of freedom – to make their own choices, to explore, and to even make mistakes. It’s a vital part of the developmental process.

“Think of spending time on your relationship with your spouse as an investment in your child’s emotional health,” says Davenport.

Counseling Isn’t a Dirty Word

“No matter how great your marriage was before you had kids, you can’t just leave it on autopilot now,” says Robinson.

Counseling isn’t just for couples struggling in their marriage. It can be a great way to help strengthen an already strong marriage, especially when going through a major change – like adopting a child.

“I never contemplated how adoption would affect my marriage before my partner and I adopted our daughter,” says Westbrooks.

Sometimes, it is just healthy and refreshing to take a step back and talk through your feelings. And counseling is a great atmosphere to do just that. Think of it as a marriage checkup.

Do You Need Someone to Talk To?

Adoption Makes Family is here to help! We are a non-profit (501-C3) licensed adoption agency based in Maryland. Our adoption counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for your convenience. If you would like our advice or just need to talk, please give us a call at any time.

24-Hour Hotline 410-683-2100

Adoption Makes Family was founded to meet the needs of birth parents and adoptive parents in a manner that is sensitive, compassionate, and personal. If you have any questions, you can contact us by phone at 410-683-2100, by e-mail at dr.kirschner@adoptionmakesfamily.org or use our online contact form.

Sources

  1. Davenport, Dawn. “Finding Balance with ‘Cocooning’ Newly Adopted Kids.” Creating a Family, 12 May 2017, creatingafamily.org/adoption-category/finding-balance-cocooning-newly-adopted-kids/.
  2. Davenport, Dawn. “Keeping Your Marriage Solid When Adopting or Fostering.” Creating a Family, 12 Apr. 2018, creatingafamily.org/adoption-category/keeping-marriage-solid-adopting-fostering/.
  3. Marano, Hara Estroff. “A Nation of Wimps.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/200411/nation-wimps.
  4. Robinson, Holly, and Kate Powers. “Happy Parents, Happy Kids.” Parents, Parents, 3 Jan. 2017, www.parents.com/parenting/relationships/staying-close/happy-parents/.
  5. Westbrooks, Emily. “9 Ways Adoption Changes Your Marriage.” Romper, Romper, 25 Apr. 2018, www.romper.com/p/9-ways-adoption-changes-your-marriage-that-are-hard-but-worth-it-53118.
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