When you are a parent raising a child with ADHD, it is easy to lose that “loving feeling” you once had as a couple, all in the name of being a “good parent.” Forging ahead in overdrive, you forget about your own needs, let alone the needs of your spouse. Ask yourself:
- Do you feel so overwhelmed, tired & exhausted that you feel disconnected from your partner?
- Do you miss that “loving feeling” you once had as a couple?
- Does it seem like your partner doesn't even know who you are anymore?
- Is your relationship stuck on autopilot?
- Do you feel like you don't have anything left to give to your partner at the end of the day?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, the truth is that your relationship could be in danger of emotionally “starving to death!”
As busy parents, it can feel like you are constantly moving from challenge to urgent crisis with your child, making it is easy to neglect the importance of nurturing your relationship. But couples can only survive on emotional “bits & pieces” for so long until the relationship ends up suffering lasting damage. You begin by telling yourself that you will feed your relationship later. Later becomes seldom, and that turns into almost never.
If you don't make time to care for your relationship, both partners will end up losing out in the end - and so will your family. The simple truth is that parents of ADHD kids really do need love too!
So here's our gift to you: 4 seemingly simple and remarkably effective strategies that we have used for years to keep marriages vital, strong and happy.
- Assume Positive Intentions: Do you sometimes feel like your partner is intentionally undermining your efforts? If you believe that your partner is actually out to cause you harm, then you react accordingly and end up feeling like your partner is not on your side. Believing in the good intentions of your partner is key to rediscovering that loving feeling you once had as a couple. Make a conscious decision to see your partner as just as committed as you, and decide that you are both really on the same team, realizing that you are both working toward the same goal. This small but powerful shift in thinking has reconnected many couples we have worked with.
- Speak Kindly to your Partner: Does your message seem to fall upon deaf ears? If you feel like your message isn't being heard, try speaking with kindness in your voice so that your partner is more likely to actually listen. Speaking kindly to your partner, in a non-defensive, non-confrontational way opens the door to being heard. When we speak in a critical, irritated or annoyed tone, spouses, like children, naturally tune us out. It's a good rule of thumb to speak at least as nicely to your partner as you would speak to a total stranger.
- Put “Couples Time” in your emotional budget: Has time together as a couple become almost non-existent? “Couples time” is often the first thing to be cut out of a family's busy schedule. Without even a few minutes spent together as a couple, it is easy to become completely consumed by parenting, and end up leaving your relationship on autopilot. To get back in the couples game, begin by carving out a minimum of 15
minutes in the morning, and 15 minutes in the evening, where you put down the parenting hat, and rediscover what it means to be a couple. This can be simple: spend a few minutes together talking, snuggling, or sharing a glass of wine or cup of tea. Whatever it is, give each other 15 minutes morning and night to recharge and revitalize your relationship.
- Reconnect with simple, loving touch: Do you sometimes pull away at your partners touch because you're just too irritated? Have you forgotten what it feels like to receive a kind and loving touch from your partner? Try reconnecting with your partner through simple loving gestures, such as a quick kiss, an encouraging rub of the shoulder, sharing a fork over dessert, falling asleep holding hands, or a heartfelt complement. Every thoughtful act, kind loving word, or heartfelt gesture goes a long way when you're feeling drained or overwhelmed.
In the beginning, expect signs of distance and non-belief from your partner - that is absolutely natural. If you can keep up these new behaviors for about 2 weeks, you will begin to see the reconnection and revitalization of your relationship.
Strong partnerships create strong families.
Everything you do to strengthen your marriage sets an example for your child. The next time you feel guilty about taking a moment to strengthen your relationship, remember that you're not only making an investment in your relationship, but also in the relationships of generations to come.