It's not always about the kids. Well ... okay, maybe it is, but is shouldn't be. Yes, being a dedicated parent is important and really quite necessary if we want to keep our struggling kiddos on the right track to being successful, but keeping things healthy between you and your spouse is equally important. This can be challenging if you have a special needs child or children, but it becomes infinitely more difficult when your spouse also struggles with ADHD.
Those of you married to an ADHDer know what I'm talking about. The forgetfulness, what appears to be thoughtlessness... It can be challenging for both partners. Add the stress and exhaustion of doing everything you can for your little ones to the mix and you have a recipe for potential disaster. But it doesn't have to be that way!
Here are our personal top 5 tips for keeping your ADHD marriage from self-destructing...
1. Be honest. Don't keep things from each other. If something bothers you, irritates you or upsets you let it out! And I don't mean by exploding when you've finally become so upset you can't hold it in any longer, I mean as soon as you have an issue. Find a quiet moment and talk it out.
2. Unwind together at the end of the day. Let's be serious, by the end of some days you're probably crawling to the couch just to sit for a quiet moment to recover--hair askew, brain fried, blank stare. No matter how rough your day has been or whether your main frustration was caused by your little guys or spouse, if you can unwind together and have a moment of peace before you go to bed it'll help you reset for the next day.
3. Therapy is not the devil. If you're the parents of kids facing different challenges you're going through some ish. If you're the spouse of someone that struggles with ADHD or any other challenges, you're dealing with some ish. If you're married to another imperfect human being, especially if you've been together for a while, you're almost definitely struggling with some ish. The point is, you probably have a lot on your shoulders and there is no shame in having an impartial 3rd party help you process through some stuff. Whether you go for the short-term to work through a few things or make a habit of going regularly, a couple's therapist can be a really useful tool. Try to find one that works with ADHD adults if possible. Having someone that understands the specific challenges and struggles that come with ADHD will be a real benefit.
4. Go on dates! It can be hard--so hard--to find the time to go on dates. Not to mention how hard it can be to find someone that can watch your little guys. We admittedly haven't had the time to go on dates regularly during any part of our marriage. This is something we've really felt to be a loss over the years. Hanging out in pjs late at night watching a show on the DVR doesn't really qualify as a date and sadly it's often been the only option we had, unfortunately. We're working hard to eventually change this. Going on a date, taking the time to get ready and being kid-free is a really great way to feel better about each other and yourself. Remember what it feels like to throw on your favorite lipstick and feel put together? Maybe you can't go every week like your kid-less friends or friends with typical children, but once or twice a month is better than nothing. And yes, we've all been through the envy that comes every weekend when your facebook and instagram feeds are colorfully splashed with your friends' weekly date night photos ... yet again. but don't let it get you down. Someday you'll get there--baby steps!
5. Stay best friends and love each other. It seems simple, but sometimes you forget that you really just need to remain best friends and love one another. Through the ups and downs, through forgetting to grab almond milk on the way home, love each other. You don't always have to like each other, goodness knows you won't, but if you can never lose your friendship and remember to love one another you'll be okay.
So these are my tips from nearly a decade of being married to my best ADHD-struggling friend. What are yours? How do you keep things plugging along?