My husband loves me more than anything, and I, him. He was my best friend through the worst, and held me at my weakest. Before we were romantically involved, he was my best friend. He was the first person to congratulate me on being pregnant. Although we lived two hours apart, he would drive to see me every other weekend. He came to visit me in the hospital and meet my son. He was the one that made phone calls to ensure I was okay after placement, he went to visits with me, he held me when I cried during those moments that I ached for my child. We finally started dating, and it was just as fairy tales should be. After a year and a half, we were engaged and married a short time later.

All seemed perfect—until another visit with my son happened. My supportive best friend suddenly didn’t understand why I needed to keep the adoption open. He viewed my pain as something that should have been “fixed” by our wedding, and it wasn’t. Hurtful words were exchanged, a few painful fights never resolved. Before I knew it, I was hiding my adoption from own husband. Granted, I can only write this article now because of what we’ve done to resolve those issues. It’s not perfect yet, but we are working together, as a couple, to make sure the adoption can comfortably be part of our lives. Here are a few dos and don’ts that I found over the past few years:

Do—be honest

I found this out right away. Every year I make an online scrap book, and I now have a collection of books to remember my son’s life. It can be expensive to do this every year, and I purposely didn’t tell my husband, thinking he wouldn’t approve of the purchase. He was obviously upset when he discovered what I had done, but not over what I had purchased. It was because I wasn’t honest about it. Turns out, he enjoys looking through the book. He was just upset that I felt I needed to lie about it. I was upset over it, too. Had I been honest from the start, we could have just enjoyed the book together.

Don’t—try to hide anything from your husband

Of course, this ties into the “do” listed above. But it’s so important that it needs to be reiterated. I’m still in contact with the birth father. We aren’t BFFs. We don’t talk daily, but we do respect each other and have a modest amount of love for the role we played in the other’s life. Given our past relationship, it would completely inappropriate to hide the fact that I’m still in contact with my son’s birth father. My husband does not like him, and I don’t blame him. He wanted me to get an abortion. When I refused, the father left. So naturally, my husband will not think highly of this young man. However, I will not hide this relationship from my husband. It’s important to me to have this relationship in case my son has any questions about the birth father. My husband sees and understands this, even if he doesn’t like it.

Do—include him

No, my husband doesn’t like that I have a child with another man. No, that doesn’t matter to me. It’s not like I look at my son and see the birth father. I look at my son and see a miracle. This is a huge part of my life and my identity, as is my spouse. Sometimes he fights it. But I always invite him to visits, I always show him pictures, and I always, always, always am sure to include my son in my husband’s life.

Don’t—exile him

When my husband and I got pregnant, after the congratulations, the first thing he said was, “Please don’t compare this to your first pregnancy.” Hormones and the already sensitive topic almost lead to another argument, but part of me could understand. He wanted this to be the beginning of the “our family.” We’ve worked on it. We have “our family” and my son has “his family,” but we are also intertwined within one another’s units. It’s a beautiful thing to be part of, and if I had exiled him, like I wanted to, we could all be in very different positions right now.

Do—force him to participate

As mentioned earlier, I always invite him to visits. Unfortunately, the visits are usually during the work day, so he’s unable to make it to most of them. When he can’t make it, I show him pictures, I tell him how it went, I tell my son about my husband, and so forth. I force him to be part of the adoption. I feel so strongly that he needs to participate, and he fought it at first. We are now at a point to where he asks how visits went, he enjoys the pictures, and my son even will ask how my husband is doing. I’m nurturing their relationship so when my son is older, there will hopefully be fewer awkward moments between them.

Don’t—expect him to be eager to participate

Sometimes my husband fights it. It’s not as much as it used to be, but once it a while he will be annoyingly quiet while I’m telling him about my son. Sometimes he just needs to work it out on his own. I’m sticking to my beliefs: My son is part of my life, and he will be forever. And my husband needs to be okay with it. But I need to be okay with him working it out on his own terms. If I push too much, he will push back. I do give a nudge here and there, but never too much. So far, it’s helping.

Hopefully, this will be helpful to anyone out there who in my same position. My husband loves my son, but he doesn’t lie in the same circle of comfort as I do when it comes to open adoption. My husband loves me, so I know he’s making an effort to be comfortable with how open the adoption is as well as how much advocating I do for adoption. I love him, which is why I also make an effort to give him the space he needs. Together, we are making a different kind of family work.