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Maintaining Solid Marriages when foster parenting

adly, many marriages suffer during the foster process. When you are putting much of your energies and time into your foster child, you may be so drained and exhausted that you

soon neglect your spouse. Further complicating this, some foster children are skilled at pitting one parent against the other, bringing some heated and unproductive arguments to your home. Without a doubt, there are many obstacles that can challenge a healthy marriage when becoming a foster parent. To be sure, being a foster parent will change your life, in so many ways. Therefore, it will be absolutely necessary that you take steps to protect your marriage from any of the slings and arrows that might threaten your foster parenting, and your marriage.

COMMITMENT FROM YOUR FAMILY. As we saw earlier, it is most important that you and your spouse are both in agreement when it comes to being a foster parent. There will be times when you will rely upon your spouse for help, strength and decision making. Furthermore, if you have other biological and adopted children of your own living with you, you will also need them to be supportive and on board with your decision to care for foster children. Your children may have concerns. Perhaps they are worried that they will have to share you with their new foster sibling. They may

resent that there is a new person joining their family. Ask them to share their feelings with you, and listen to what they have to say. Reassure your own children that you will always be there for them. You will also want to plan on setting aside some special time for just you and your own children, as they will need time alone with you during your fostering.

TIME FOR YOUR MARRIAGE. All marriages need both partners to put work into it, in order for the marriage to be a healthy one. Therefore, it is necessary that you spend some alone time with your spouse as often as possible. Perhaps schedule a date night once every two weeks, or once a month. If you are like my wife and I, and it is simply not possible, perhaps a lunch together, a walk in the neighborhood with the two of you, or another activity that allows the two of you to have some private time together would work. This time alone is important, as you can share your concerns, desires, hopes and wants, not only as a foster parent, but as a married couple. Another way to spend time together is by closing the bedroom door once a week, grabbing some snacks and food, and watching a movie in bed together. Work to make your marriage the cornerstone of your home, and work to make it a productive and happy one.


feature BY JOHN DeGARMO, ED.D.

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