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.
So, in thinking of ways to enhance the ability to focus on one’s spouse, I came up with the following list of suggestions;
- Make a point of calling your spouse every day just to say hello and see how their day is going. (And give them your undivided attention during the entire length of the call)
- Send a “love text” every day just to let them know you are thinking of them.
- Leave a note next to his/her pillow saying something sweet and/or wishing them a wonderful day.
- Tackle some chore around the house that you know means a lot to them.
- Surprise them with a gift. Maybe their favorite meal, some flowers, or an item that you know they will love.
- Make time to just cuddle or hold hands while out and about or relaxing together.
- When in their company, make eye contact with them the entire time they are speaking to you and respond back to them so they know you have really heard what they have said to you. This last one seems so easy, and yet…. it is the one thing that is often missing in many couple’s communication.
Since you may need a reminder to do some of those things you have in mind, consider ways to help with this by perhaps setting a daily alarm on your phone or write yourself little sticky notes that you place on your desk at work or around your home. Find ways that work with your life style and comfort level using technology. Seek professional coaching or work with a counselor who is well versed in the problems that are associate with having ADHD, if needed. Don’t forget that in the end, the greatest gift you can give your partner is your undivided attention and willingness to be completely present to them. I can bet that incorporating these concepts into your daily life and making them habits, will greatly enhance the quality of your marriage as well as your ability to grow closer over time.
Leslie is an ADHD Coach and holistic therapist working in South Florida. If you want more help with ADHD, sign up for my free newsletter on my website and get your free tips to Overcoming Procrastination and Achieving Your Goals at: www.addadults.net.