Does it feel like you've let your relationship with your spouse take a back seat, especially since your child's ADHD has started so many “fires” that need to be battled on a daily basis?
In any family, the strength of the parents' relationship has a big impact on the kids' happiness—and this is especially true when that family has a few more struggles than the folks next door. Unfortunately, the extra work of parenting a child with ADHD can use up parents' time and energy that could otherwise be spent on each other. When parents disagree too much about how to parent that child, good will also gets used up.
For any long-term relationship, sex can be a double-edged sword. It can be both a great source of connection between romantic partners, as well as a bitter source of disagreement and disappointment. For couples where one or more people in the family has ADHD, there's even more at stake, since these couples will probably have more than their share of struggles that have nothing to do with sex.
For many couples in committed relationships, sex suffers from a bit of benign neglect—there's no intention to avoid it, but it just doesn't happen often enough. Granted, kids and careers need to be priorities, but sex shouldn't fall in somewhere behind loading the dishwasher and catching up on last season's Game of Thrones. At least not every night.
If you're already down a few notches from wrestling your kids to finally take out the trash, you need the restorative effects of a good sex life and good sexual connection even more. This brings us to our four big ideas:
- Make sex a priority.
Become more intentional about it. Keep it on your radar screen. Pay attention to how long it has been. Then do something about it. Like anything else, the more effort you make, the better it gets. This then brings us to our next big idea:
- Initiate or agree to sex even when you don't feel like it.
In an ideal world, both partners will want sex at exactly the same time; but at any given moment, more likely, one is more interested than the other. Many people find that even if they aren't initially interested, starting things up creates that desire. Or in other words, interest follows activity. So, be a good sport about it and see what happens. This is especially true when you're having trouble mentally shifting gears from a prior activity. And if you're just not getting into it, then a little generosity towards your partner will probably benefit the relationship in lots of other ways. Of course, most people are more likely to feel sexual if there has been a good foundation laid first, so that brings us to…
- Schedule non-sexual time together.
Just as you need to make time for sex a priority, you also need to schedule (and protect) time together for fun as a couple – time that doesn't involve talking about the teacher's latest email. This can be really hard to come by when your kids take up so much time, which makes it all the more important. There will always be more homework to look over and emails to send, but your relationship with your spouse shouldn't be last on the list. Your kids are watching how you and your spouse treat each other. They learn a lot of lessons about relationships from you—what do you want them to see?
Every couple has disagreements about how to parent their kids, but those disagreements can get more heated when one or more kids has ADHD or related challenges (and probably one of the parents, too). On the surface, these disagreements are just about methods (e.g., should we punish our daughter for getting a bad grade on a test?). At a deeper level, they are also about balance in the relationship and feeling like your concerns are being taken seriously.
For example, one partner may feel like she bears the majority of the parenting burden, including being homework police, following up with teachers, attending webinars, driving to therapist appointments, etc. and that the other parent doesn't invest the requested energy or, even worse, discounts all that hard work. The other parent may feel that his opinions are too often ignored or not taken seriously, and that the over-involved parent just needs to relax a little more. These resentments creep into the bedroom … and they kill the generosity I mentioned above. It's hard to feel sexually interested in someone when you are angry.In other words:
- Foreplay starts early.
Foreplay begins long before anyone takes their socks off. Everything that happened during the day (or week) impacts what happens when you get undressed. Great sex at night begins with good behavior during the day. If your sex life is important to you, then your partner's happiness when you're both dressed should be important to you, too.
We all know this, in theory, but we tend to forget it in practice. So keep it at the top of your mind, and if your partner seems to be forgetting it, then nicely offer a reminder. Great sex is just one solid reason to work hard at being the best person, parent, and partner you can be.
It can sometimes be difficult to switch gears from being parents together to getting dirty together, but it is easier to do it if you keep these four big ideas in mind. Sex is fun, but the benefits go far beyond the physical pleasures of it. If you're reading this website, then the odds are that you could really use a good sex life. More than that, you owe it to yourself to have one.