It doesn’t always pan out this way, but our involvement with foster care has actually served to strengthen our marriage. Bryce and I have been married for twelve years and nine of those we’ve spent hosting children from hard places. There has certainly been the potential for strain and division, so what made the difference for us? I think it’s simply this:
Gospel. Mission. Together.
Fostering is about the children but it’s not just about the children. It’s deeper than that; the calling is higher. Biblical hospitality and caring for the least of these is a mandate superseding any pull-on-the-heartstrings ask from the local agency. Believers must “loose the chains of injustice . . . set the oppressed free . . . share food . . . provide the poor wanderer with shelter” (Is. 58:6-7). Our vision is the GOSPEL.
Fostering children turns our marriage into something more than just existing for ourselves, our family, and our nice tidy suburban life. It’s so tempting to turn insular, so we are grateful that foster care pushes us out. Instead of standing face to face in our comfortable living room, I literally picture Bryce and I standing shoulder to shoulder, pursuing a mission bigger than ourselves that takes us outside our home to hard places. We are on a MISSION.
I’ve written about this before but we truly view each other as being on the same team. We pray for our team. We often tell the kids we’re on a team. We make decisions as a team. We tackle placements and all that comes with that as a team. We share a passion for children from hard places and we pursue this passion TOGETHER.
Other practical things we’ve done to help keep our marriage strong: Make sure we have good support from other foster families. Put our kids to bed early so we have time together in the evenings. Ask for help when we need it. Make sure we are both ready to take on a new placement. Give each other space to do things we enjoy outside of foster care. And always lots of good communication!
Perhaps foster care isn’t your marriage mission (or maybe it is? or maybe it could be!?). But I encourage you to find a gospel-focused mission you and your spouse can do together. You just might be amazed at how it strengthens your marriage.