In my practice, I see many couples with concerns around keeping the romance alive in their marriage. If I were to determine the single most detrimental thing one can do in damaging one’s relationship, it would be to not pay attention to one’s spouse. I recently read a quote by Thich Nhat Hanh in which he says, ” When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there? ” I know that for many people, adjusting one’s focus sounds like an easy remedy, but for those individuals with ADHD, the ability to maintain sustained attention on any person, place or thing can be extremely challenging. And yet, without this skill, romance may be difficult to maintain. It’s that simple. So, knowing this fact, how does one go about making sure that this problem does not become that fatal flaw that dooms your marriage?
Untreated ADHD can be deadly to many relationships simply because the brain of someone with ADHD is wired in such a way that makes attention regulation extremely difficult. Although medication is the most efficient way to jump start treatment, it is only one of many treatment modalities that is helpful in sustaining and building a relationship of mutual trust, friendship and intimacy. When working with couples, the biggest complaint I often hear from the non-ADHD spouse is that they feel abandoned in the relationship. They often feel that their spouse is not attentive to them and their constant distractibility creates the feeling of being unloved. And since attention regulation is the predominant symptom of an individual with ADHD, it would be easy to see just how damaging this problem can be in one’s ability to maintain intimacy.
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So, in thinking of ways to enhance the ability to focus on one’s spouse, I came up with the following list of suggestions;