After a new child comes home, it can be tricky to figure out how to nurture both the new relationship with your child and the existing relationship with your partner. People these days tend to think that going out on dates with your spouse is an essential part of a healthy relationship. New moms sometimes feel pressured to have time away from their newly arrived babies and toddlers, even if their guts are screaming that the child isn’t ready. Especially with newly adopted children, it is crucial to remember the foundational importance of attachment.
I think that we moms subconsciously notice a whole array of things about our children that we may not even be able to verbalize, but that help us form our opinions about their abilities and needs.
I personally have found that when my kids are ready to be away from me, my anxiety about leaving them diminishes. Our younger-adopted kids all came home between four and twenty months, and it took me a year or more each time before I left them with anyone but John, and then only for a short time.
So what about dates? Certainly some children are comfortable enough fairly soon after homecoming that mom and dad could go out for an hour or two without harm. If you can pull off a date now and then without causing terror and regression to your baby, then go for it. But if a couple hours away causes your newly arrived child to regress and act insecure for days afterward, consider nurturing your relationship with your partner in other ways for a while.
Chat late at night. Plan a special candlelit dinner on the patio after your child is in bed. Talk in the morning over coffee while your child watches Curious George. Take time to text message each other during the day. Kiss long and passionately on homecoming despite the one-year-old standing on the floor between your knees.
John and I especially like to kiss in front of our teens; it’s fun to hear them groan.
Dates aren’t what is important; connection is.
It is possible to nurture the connection between mom and dad and the connection to your newly arrived child. In time, dating can make a comeback.
But if you don’t yet feel peace about leaving your newly arrived little one, don’t feel guilty about waiting until your child is ready.
Though John and I didn’t do a lot of dating while all our children were small, when our older girls came home and life felt very challenging, we quickly decided that a couple dates a month were good for everyone. The kids got fish sticks and a movie with their older siblings, and John and I got to have some uninterrupted conversation.
Typically an evening would begin as a rehash of that week’s challenges, then move into discussing ways to parent with wisdom.
Parenting was harder on me than on John, since I was there all the time. Until we really started talking about what was happening, he didn’t quite understand why I was so frazzled. He didn’t need a blow-by-blow report of everything that happened, but he needed to hear the overall story to be able support me with wisdom.
Though much of the talk was about our kids, unfailingly we’d head back home with more energy and perspective with which to begin the new week. Because we pulled together during those hard times, our marriage relationship became stronger, something I count as a great blessing during that hard time.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. – Colossians 3:12–14
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Excerpted with permission from Forever Mom by Mary Ostyn, copyright Thomas Nelson, 2014
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As a mama of five, two through the beauty of adoption (one Kentuckian and one Ethiopian), I can attest to the fact that the first few months or even year with a new sweetie in the home are really important for bonding and nurturing a sense of safety and security. Especially during that intense season, it’s vital to stay connected with your spouse and even take out-of-the-box mini-breaks to refresh and renew. What are your ideas for nurturing your marriage during adoption? Come join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear from you! ~ Laurie McClure, FaithGateway Women