21 episodes

When you’re on the foster and adoption journey, marriage can get super challenging. This show is meant to help you rebuild or strengthen your marriage so you can be the parents your foster or adopted children need you to be.

Fostering Marriage Joel & MaryBeth Fortner

    • Kids & Family
    • 4.7 • 9 Ratings

When you’re on the foster and adoption journey, marriage can get super challenging. This show is meant to help you rebuild or strengthen your marriage so you can be the parents your foster or adopted children need you to be.

    How to stop minimizing your spouse's needs, thoughts and feelings

    How to stop minimizing your spouse's needs, thoughts and feelings

    We’re discussing the hurtful practice of minimizing your spouse’s needs, thoughts and feelings, and how to do a better job of prioritizing them. 
    Understanding Your Spouse's Perspective
    The importance of empathy in marriage, especially under the strains of fostering.
    The Impact of Minimizing and Undervaluing
    Negative consequences of not fully acknowledging your spouse's needs and struggles in a fostering environment.
    DisconnectionBitterness and resentmentHurt feelingsAngerGuardednessIsolationPoor mental/emotional health
    What does minimizing/under-valuing look like:
    Dismissing Concerns: When your spouse expresses worries or concerns, responding with statements like "You're overreacting" or "It's not that big of a deal" dismisses their feelings.Comparative Suffering: Saying things like "Why are you upset about this when there are bigger problems in the world?" or "I've been through worse" invalidates their struggles by comparing them to others'.Ignoring Emotional Needs: If your spouse seeks emotional support and you respond with indifference, like changing the subject or showing a lack of interest, it can feel like their needs are being minimized.Sarcasm or Mockery: Responding to your spouse's feelings or struggles with sarcasm, like "Oh, you're a real victim, aren't you?" or making fun of their concerns can be deeply hurtful.Downplaying Achievements: If your spouse shares an achievement or something they're proud of and you respond with "That's not a big deal" or "Anyone could have done that," it undermines their feelings of accomplishment.Belittling Emotions: Statements like "Stop being so sensitive" or "You're always so emotional" can make your spouse feel that their emotions are not valid or are an overreaction.Interrupting or Not Listening: When your spouse is talking about their feelings or concerns, consistently interrupting them or not really listening (e.g., looking at your phone) can convey that you don't value what they're saying.Offering Solutions Instead of Empathy: Sometimes, in an attempt to be helpful, one might jump to offering solutions ("Just do this instead") without acknowledging the emotional aspect. While well-intentioned, this can come off as dismissive of the emotional experience your spouse is sharing.
    Strategies for Prioritizing Each Other's Needs
    Prioritizing each other's needs and feelings in a marriage, especially when one spouse is struggling, involves a blend of empathy, communication, and shared responsibility. Here are some strategies that married couples can use:
    Active Listening: Make time to truly listen to each other without interruptions. This means not just hearing the words, but also understanding the emotions and thoughts behind them. Active listening involves acknowledging what your partner is saying and showing empathy.Regular Communication: Set aside regular times to check in with each other. This could be daily or weekly, but it's important to have a consistent schedule. Discuss not just day-to-day activities, but also deeper feelings and concerns.Empathy and Understanding: Try to put yourself in your partner's shoes, especially when they're struggling. Understanding their perspective can help in responding more compassionately and supportively.Managing Expectations: Be realistic about what each of you can offer and receive. This means understanding and accepting each other's limitations, whether they're emotional, physical, or related to time and...

    • 45 min
    You don't need date night (Go for this instead)

    You don't need date night (Go for this instead)

    We’ve all heard it. "Date your spouse." "You need date nights!"
    Let's flip the script and introduce something we call “Connection Night.”
    The Benefits of Connection for Foster Parents
    Fostering can be incredibly rewarding, but also challenging, and maintaining a strong relationship is essential. 
    Connection nights offer:
    Connection and bonding.Stress relief and rejuvenation.A break from parenting responsibilities. Improved communication and conflict resolution.
    Problems Faced When Foster Parents Neglect Connection
    Neglecting connection nights can lead to:
    Burnout and emotional exhaustion.Strained relationships.Reduced ability to support foster children effectively.A feeling of being disconnected as a couple.
    Inexpensive Connection Ideas for Foster Parents
    Budget-friendly date ideas for busy foster parents:
    Lock - In Cook Together: Collaborate on a special meal, maybe even experimenting with new recipes.Game Night: Play board games or card games, providing fun competition and interaction.Picnic in the Park: Pack a simple picnic and enjoy the outdoors while the kids are at school or daycare.Art Night: Get creative with art supplies or crafts.Book Club for Two: Choose a book to read together and discuss it.Volunteer Together: Give back as a couple by volunteering at a local charity or community event.Home Spa Night: Pamper each other with massages, facials, or simply a relaxing bath.Nature Walk: Explore a nearby nature trail or park.Star Gazing: Enjoy a clear night by lying under the stars with a blanket.
    Tips for Making Connection Nights a Priority
    Strategies for ensuring date nights become a regular part of your routine:
    Schedule them in advance.Enlist the help of friends, family, or babysitters. Be flexible with your time.Communicate your needs with your partner.
    Prioritizing Connection Nights can help maintain a strong and healthy relationship, while providing the best care for the foster children. Remember, a strong couple is the foundation for a strong family.
    Thank you for listening to the Fostering Marriage podcast. Don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review our podcast to help us reach more foster parents and caregivers. 
    If you have any questions or ideas for future episodes, please feel free to reach out to us at fosteringmarriage.com. We're here to support you in your fostering journey.
    If you enjoy this podcast, rate and review it wherever you listen. It helps other fostering families find it. 

    • 47 min
    Navigating grief together with Dr. Melody Aguayo

    Navigating grief together with Dr. Melody Aguayo

    In this month's episode, we’re discussing how to recognize and navigate grief together in marriage because grief is such a big part of the fostering and even adoption journey. 
    We have a very special guest with us, Dr. Melody Aguayo! 
    Dr. Melody is a parenting coach with a huge heart for families and children. With many years under her belt, Melody's seen it all: from high-risk kids needing a guiding hand, to those neurotypical dynamos that keep parents on their toes. She's all about swapping out those stressful control battles for a home filled with joy and peace.
    Melody's not your average coach. She digs deep into understanding what makes parents tick (and occasionally ticked off!). 
    She has her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from East Tennessee State University and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Capella University. Plus, she's a certified TBRI Practitioner and Circle of Security Parent Trainer. But here's the thing –  she says it’s her own journey as a parent that has been her greatest teacher. She’s a wife and mother of two adopted children and our parenting coach.
    Dr. Melody shares about:
    How grief commonly manifests in couples who are involved in fosteringHow couples can effectively communicate their grief to each other without feeling overwhelmedHow to recognize signs of grief in each otherWhat to do when you're grieving and how to deal with it betterWhen to seeking professional help for griefHow to support each other through the grieving processHow to keep from burning outHow to build resilience for long-term coping with grief
    And lastly, Dr. Melody dishes on who loads the dishwasher better between her and her husband? :)
    If you have any questions or ideas for future episodes, please feel free to reach out to us at fosteringmarriage.com.

    • 45 min
    (Part 2) How to find identity outside fostering

    (Part 2) How to find identity outside fostering

    In part 2 of our “Identity outside of fostering” series, we cover traps to avoid and how our self-perception shapes how we communicate.
    IntroductionToday, we’re getting into some deeper things concerning identity, and we want to shed some light on the traps or dangers of how we see ourselves to help all of us make better decisions in our lives and especially in our marriages. 
    We’re approaching this from the perspective of a stay at home parent. However, if you’re not a stay at home parent and still struggling with this, take the content and apply it to you.
    Traps that trip us up:
    Comparing yourself to your spouse
    Leads to jealousy, bitterness or resentmentThat leads to conflict in your marriage
    Comparing yourself to your former life before marriage or kids
    Leads to depression, anger, shame, feelings of unworthinessThat leads marriage issues because your spouse doesn’t like the “new” you, or you feel like they couldn’t possiblyVictim mentality can happen where you even blame your spouse for life today
    If one spouse pressures the other to be more, do more, achieve more
    Leads to one person feeling like a failure or not good enough especially for their spouse
    Caring a lot about your spouse’s opinion to the point you allow it to shape your self-perception
    Culture/societal expectations that are real or perceived that leave you feeling insignificant or unworthy
    Controlling people or a controlling spouse whom you lack healthy boundaries with leaving you feeling:
    Guilted or like a disappointment or a failureLeads to major people pleasing because you feel that will make them happy and then they’ll like you, or to avoid assumed conflict or maybe they’ll eventually be nicer to you if you please themThis doesn’t work and just reinforces unworthiness and a poor self-image
    How your spouse’s opinion/care/support affect a spouse’s identity in good ways
    Supportive and caring of youAccepting of who you areEncouraging to grow and improve but not in a controlling wayEncouraging of you as a parent and the important work you’re doingEncouraging breaks and replenishment time
    Identity and communication
    In an argument, people sometimes communicate from a place of defending who they see themselves as or who we want someone else to see us as
    For example, in an argument or fight, we say things like “I’m just trying to get you to see (insert positive thing about yourself or your intent)The goal is to be heard or understood because you’re feeling not understood which leaves a person feeling sad, alone or worse, rejected
    Another thing people do is they subtly or not so subtly share things that are meant to make us look good to someone else
    Again, this is another one of those finding worth and significance in people’s opinions of us and how it makes us feel better about ourselvesThe question is why don’t we feel fine about ourselves without people’s opinion or affirmation
    How we see ourselves is so powerful and so much of our thinking, decisions and emotions hinges on self-perception. 
    Finding freedom in self-forgetfulness
    The pursuit of selflessness and less selfishness
    Shedding of ego and pride allows a married couple to be serving, generous and sacrificial to each other
    Contentment and health can be found in neither holding an identity of good or bad, significant or insignificant, but in not focusing on self so much period and focusing on others
    This can be monumentally challenging for some of usStory about us adopting and how I (Joel) felt my selfishness come to the surface and it said “don’t do it.”We have to practice not focusing on...

    • 49 min
    How to find identity outside fostering

    How to find identity outside fostering

    In this episode, we’re talking about finding an identity outside of being a foster parent. 
    What is identity
    Identity is who you see yourself asMany people aren’t happy with who they see themselves as feel not good enough, not important/significant and can say things like “I’m just a mom or  __________”
    Joel interviews MaryBeth (the main parent in our family)
    How did not financially contributing anymore impact you?Tell me about guilt over not contributing “equally”?How can a mom who has gifts, talents and an education and she’s not using them feel?How did you get to a place of thinking this is where you belong?How much did friendships help?How much did the kids getting older make a difference?How important is finding a new way to use your gifts and talents help?How often do you think a mom/parent doesn’t treat themselves as equally important in the family and why is it so important for them to see themselves as equally important? How can a mother reframe “motherhood” that helps them in the “small or mundane things” of being a mom? What have been some of the most impactful books that helped you as a momHow does this recipe help with a person’s identity in a good way? Or is it not really an identity thing after all
    Conclusion
    Next month we will be going deeper into identity and self perception, looking at how it shows up and affects you and your marriage.
    If you enjoy this podcast, rate and review it wherever you listen. It helps other fostering families find it. 
    And follow us on Facebook at Fostering Marriage.

    • 42 min
    Recognizing and working through stress-triggered responses

    Recognizing and working through stress-triggered responses

    In this episode, we’re talking about recognizing and working through bad responses to each other as a result of stress and things that trigger you.
    Stressors of fostering: 
    The stressors that the main load bearer can have (episode 13)Bulk of tasks (paperwork to organizing now chaotic schedules) to parenting (often a child - or children with trauma)Stressors that the non-load bearer can have. There’s still a load they’re carrying including emotional, parenting challenges of their own, worry about the load bearer, or guilt or feeling responsible for the emotional well-being of the load bearer or even shame of not knowing what to do to help situationsTriggers Our Root SystemBrief mention of personality styles and how they come into play - listen to those episodes (episodes 5 & 6)
    Bad Responses:
    Highlight certain responses: angry, defensive, frustrated, etc.Recognize you’re triggeredImportance of beginning to self-manageIf you need to pause the conversation, pause it so you can regroupThere’s no value in contributing to conflict
    Questions to ask yourself 
    What is bothering me/ What is the real problem? Why is that bothering me/ a problem? What is it I want them to hear from me?Do I just want to be heard? Do I want something to change? Am I making assumptions? Did I assume bad intent in my spouse? I’m being judgedAm I assuming their expectations?(me and assuming that Joel wanted the house clean) (ask the question.)Am I believing any lies? 
    How to re-start communication 
    When communication goes bad, we need to communicate about communication, not the topic anymoreSoften toneEach person share how they contributed to conflict, what they’re responsible for, what they were struggling with in the conversation (without attacking/accusing) and apologize for stuffAnd then pick up the topic againPractice better communication from what you just learnedAsk questions of each otherIf/ when you’re triggered by what your spouse is saying, go back to pausing or softening your tone, asking yourself why you’re triggered, etc. Finish telling the Joel late story
    Conclusion
    Personal growth and self-awareness takes time and practice and it’s essential to your marriage and parenting.
    If you enjoy this podcast, rate and review it wherever you listen. It helps other fostering families find it. 
    And follow us on Facebook at Fostering Marriage.

    • 47 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
9 Ratings

9 Ratings

Dew’sgirl ,

Great Content!

I always look forward to each podcast…you do an amazing job at sharing quality content that’s applicable to more than just fostering marriages! God bless you both as you begin this new venture of coaching….you’ll do fantastic!

Loorahloorah ,

I wish I had found this sooner!

This podcast has been a Godsend. It’s so comforting to know I’m not alone in these struggles, and to get powerful advice and specific tips on how to overcome them.

Shorty1975 ,

Fantastic podcast!

What a great resource for foster parents and marriages. Both can be hard but learn how to navigate this journey well!

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