Welcome back to my blog series about Key Connections for Adoptive and Foster Parents. Last week I shared about the most important connection—our connection to Christ. This week’s key connection—connecting with our spouse—is intertwined with the first.
Maintaining a marriage, is hard work. Add children and the work load increases, factor
in kids with trauma histories and a marriage can break from the stress. Couples must
prioritize their relationship and make Christ the center.
"A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back
and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken."
You don’t have to be an adoptive or foster parent long to know enemy attacks come with the territory. Our family experienced difficulties that threatened to derail us while doing international adoption paperwork before our kids came home. The long, exhausting in-country process challenged us. And now, parenting children with trauma histories delivers daily trials.
I’m writing this post a few days before our thirty-forth wedding anniversary. Over the years, I’ve learned survival and success requires three: Jesus, my husband, and me.
I’d like to share 6 points of connection my husband and I have learned to intentionally
implement for a healthy—and yes, even blissful marriage and family life.
Acts of Service
In my book Orphans No More—A Journey Back to the Father, I describe a time early in our marriage when Wayne and I were not on the same page. We didn’t have the same dreams or future plans. When God began to stir adoption in my heart, a long, lonely season commenced. All I heard from the Lord was to be quiet, pray, and wait.
While waiting, I focused on loving and serving my family. It didn’t happen overnight, but the Lord did work in my husband’s heart. We’ve been on the same page for sixteen years now.
If you and your spouse are not on the same page, I know how lonely that can feel. Press into the Lord. Pray for your spouse. Love and serve your family. In time, God will transform your hearts and your marriage.
Even though six of our eight kids have launched, life is busier than ever. Together we are parenting two teen boys with FASD and enjoying our five grandchildren who live nearby. Wayne runs our family-owned industrial construction company. I’m homeschooling, managing Justice For Orphans, podcasting, and releasing my book. Time together does not happen unless we intentionally make it happen.
Several years ago, in the midst of a particularly crazy season, my husband collapsed into bed one night declaring, “There’s no togetherness.” He was right. We’d failed to make each other a priority. From that point on we intentionally prioritize our relationship. Togetherness has become a code word. When one of us speaks or texts togetherness—we both correct our course and reconnect.
Text messages are another way we connect. Every morning when my husband arrives at work he sends me a text telling me he loves me and to have a great day—complete with hugs and kisses emojis. I always respond back in kind. We text again at lunch time and before he comes home for dinner.
Texting should not be a couple’s only method of communication. But it does help maintain connection and keeps the romance kindled throughout the day.
My husband is an early bird and I’m a night owl. Wayne leaves early in the morning for his labor intensive job and spends most of his day in the elements. By 8:00 p.m. he’s ready for bed. I enjoy staying up late. When we had a houseful of kids, I’d put the littles to bed and then stay up late with my teens. I would turn in hours after Wayne went to sleep. This schedule left little time for connection.
Now we make it a priority to go to bed at the same time. Of course this helps in the intimacy department, but often we just talk, cuddle, and read. Wayne falls asleep first. I still stay up late, usually reading a good book—curled up next to my hubby.
There were seasons when Wayne slipped out of bed and left for work without saying a word. Times when I’d been up all night with a baby or sick kid, so he didn’t want to wake me. We had settled into a pattern of not connecting in the morning or evening. Talk about not being on the same page.
Now we make morning connection a priority. During the work week we always kiss goodbye and whisper our I love you’s. And, if I’m actually up at the crack of dawn, we pray together. On the weekends, our morning together-time is a priority. We sip coffee, discuss our plans, and look over the calendar for the coming week. This weekly commitment keeps us on the same page.
Serve One Another
When Jesus washed his disciples feet he took the posture of servant. Jesus modeled the servanthood he wants his followers to demonstrate. Mutual acts of service in a marriage glorify God, bless our spouse, and teach our children how to treat others.
One simple way I serve my husband is by fixing his coffee. From the beginning of our marriage, whenever we have coffee together, I pour both cups and add his cream and sugar just the way he likes it. When I hand it to him, he always declares, “Bless you.”
And I affirm—he serves and blesses me in countless ways everyday.
This is not an exhaustive list of ways to connect with your spouse. I haven’t shared these points expecting you to duplicate them. Marriages, like individuals are unique. Find what works for yours. When we prioritize connecting with our spouse, our marriage and our family relationships reap the blessing.