Thursday, May 1, 2008

Coasters and Canoes: How to Encourage Your Spouse

Today's topic is how to encourage your spouse during the long wait. A special shout out to all the great single parents out there who adopt. This post won't be much help for you, but come back again!

Here's how things typically go at my house (we'll call it the good waiting house and my hubby shall be Daddy Good Waiting (DGW). During the wait, I am riding a roller coaster--a big one, with lots of loop-de-doops and sharp curves. It started out kind of fun and exciting. Then, it made me kind of nauseous. Every one in a while, the coaster comes to a stop, a bunch of people get on with me and the operator asks me for more money. I'm sick to my stomach, but I've ridden it this long and I'm not about to get off. Eventually, I get kind of numb and just keep hanging on, round and round, up and down.

During the wait, DGW is paddling a canoe on a wide, serene lake. He isn't distracted by the other people on the lake. He enjoys the scenery and the fresh air. He paddles slow and steady, carefully maneuvering around obstacles and keeping his eye on the destination. Perfectly even strokes keep him headed in the right direction. He has a clear view of the rollercoaster from the lake. He wonders why I'm still riding that crazy contraption when I could be paddling.

When I hit the top of the rollercoaster right before the big drop, I see DGW down there paddling away. I try to wave at him, let him know I see him there, but no time for that---here comes another big drop and loop-de-doop!

Do either of these scenarios sound like anyone you know? I'm amazed at how often this scene plays out with adoptive couples. One spouse is calm and patient, while the other one is following every yahoo group related to adoption looking for a bit of good news. You may have reverse roles in your house--or you may switch roles back and forth depending on the day.

My question is: How does the canoe rider encourage the coaster rider and vice-versa? While thinking about this post, I realized that I don't do a very good job of encouraging my spouse. Just because he isn't talking about the wait very often, doesn't mean it isn't hard on him, too. After all, even a serene canoe ride causes your shoulders to hurt after paddling for a while. Maybe we could take turns paddling. That seems like a better idea than riding the coaster together!

I'm going to tell DGW that I really appreciate his strength during this wait. I'm going to make sure he knows that he doesn't have to always be strong and patient. He can vent to me anytime he wants. I'm also going to try and stay off the coaster. Now, I'm not saying I won't sneak a quick ride in every now and then, but not every day!

What are you doing to encourage your spouse while you wait? Which one are you, canoe or coaster? I love to read your comments!


Cindy said...

I am totally the coaster rider. . .and my husband is definitely more of the canoe paddler. What a great word picture! I think what has helped me as the coaster rider is when my husband validates my feelings, and tells me it IS okay to feel down occasionally. I think I need to take a break from yahoo groups, though - it's very rare to find good news on there!


Yvonne Crawford said...

My husband is usually the canoe paddler, but I think he is getting antsy lately. And I'm the opposite. I was a coaster and now I'm more of a canoe paddler. huh, funny how that works.

Sarah and Dan Sullivan said...

Ha! Love it! My question is, is the canoeist ever the mom?? Sarah = )

Precious Wonders & Little Monkeys said...

Hello, my name is Sara. Is this Coasters Anonymous? My husband actually is slightly riding the coaster with me now, although he seems to very much enjoy it. I peruse all the info and relay it, of course I'm not animated ever so he has started taking quite an interest. He'll ask what is going on today as I'm so bad that I will not only check news on our adoption but everyone else's and also how all the programs are doing world-wide. I'm a super-speed searcher so I can finish the rounds in about 10 minutes and have a bucket full of "stuff' to tell him. It really must be wearing on him or something, because he just announced, "Have you ever thought of adopting another child after this one?" My answer, "Maybe, I don't know. How about we get through this one first." His answer, "Well, I was thinking about another and then another and then we will see from there." What?! Where is my husband and what have you done with him? He must truly being enjoying the "ride" because I am still just trying to keep up with the first! To be a canoe person, I have to distance myself from the pc, which isn't hard when the children are awake, but when night falls... I'm sucked in!

Hon's Daddy said...

We're both in the Canoe, or on the Roller Coaster at pretty much the same time. The problem is that Mommy is always concerned about the water in the canoe, or the depth of the water we're in, or if beneath the calm surface there is the leviathan. Later, she'll be asking if the roller coaster is safe; are we fastened in; how fast will it go, all the while Daddy has his hands up in the air!

Right now, we're at the get on the plane ride. Do we have the right papers; is anyone sick; how are the children back home; did we pack Tylenol; did we remember to unplug the iron; what are we going to do when we get home?

And so it goes, from one ride to the next, but on each ride at least one is there to encourage the other.

Later we'll have a story to tell of how we braved the hurricane so we could attend a required class or how long we waited or how we witnessed the hand of God through it all.

Cheryl said...

I love that analogy! Thank you Michelle! Most of the time I'm on the roller coaster and my husband is always on the canoe...thank goodness because he helps me to get in the canoe every once in a while!

Andrea said...

My husband rides the roller coaster with me....But i raise my arms and scream when we go down the hills! He just sorta closes his eyesand smiles. Then when its over, we both want to ride again! Probably the reason we have 5 kids, and going back for #6.
"Blind leading the Blind" around here! :-)


Heather said...

I love this post Michele. It is very refreshingly intuitive and honest. Though we are not officially "waiting" at this moment, we are sort of "waiting" to decide what to wait for. In that respect, I would say we are both canoes. Then again, that coaster sure looks like fun. I may hop on for a quick loop or two.

Sarah said...

Like most married couples, I'm in the roller coaster and he's in the canoe. That doesn't mean that he doesn't worry... he just worries differently. I had a major adoption freak out event a couple of weeks ago and it was rough on my husband. He didn't have all of the information... I was just crying and couldn't stop, and he thought thought we'd been turned down and the adoption journey was over. He was so worried about how to take care of me, that he "paddled his canoe" to church and got the pastor to come help me. Everything is okay for now, but I'm really moved by how much he loves me and sought out help in how to take care of me if this adoption roller coaster was coming to a crashing halt.