In my previous SharePost, "Children with ADHD and Marital Stress", I discussed how raising a child with ADHD or other special challenges puts a strain in even the most stable of marriages. Recent studies show that such marriages are at a higher risk of ending in divorce.
All relationships and marriages require diligent work and open communication in order to survive and stay healthy. But add children with ADHD or other special needs and those requirements become paramount in keeping the marriage alive and well. Below are ten tips to keep your marriage on track when you have a child with ADHD in the mix.
10 Tips for Improving your Marriage
- Remove yourself emotionally from the child-related problems at hand and focus on your partner. Too often, we get sucked up in the daily dramas of raising our very challenging children and forget the emotional needs of our partners and ourselves. One way to help do this is to think back to the early days of your courtship and marriage and to re-live the feelings you had and what drew you to your partner in the first place.
- Spend time with your spouse with the understanding that there will be NO discussion of the children. The focus is only on each other.
- Improve communication skills. After a long day at work or a full day of caring for children at home, the temptation is to "dump" all of your frustrations on your partner at the end of the day. Instead, write down your aggravations as an emotional release, then discuss them with your partner after you've each had time to settle down, had dinner and feel emotionally ready to handle this. By then, some of the intensity may decrease, making it easier to problem solve without feeling overwhelmed with emotions.
- Never finger point and accuse. State the issue at hand as a problem so as not to alienate your spouse. For example, instead of shrieking to your husband that he doesn't do enough to help you with your son's homework, state it as a problem needing to be solved, i.e.: "Danny gets overwhelmed with his homework after putting all of his energy into getting through a day at school. After dealing with the school staff and Danny's explosive behaviors when he comes home, my patience is gone and we're at each others' throats. Every day is a battle ground and we both lose. What do you think we can do to make homework time less stressful?"
- Make sure that your child's ADHD treatment is optimal. If he's on medication, make sure the dosage and type is best suited for his flavor of ADHD. If he's having trouble in school, discuss your concerns with school staff and see if he qualifies for special help. If his behavior is a problem, seek out professional counseling or consult with the school psychologist.
- Since ADHD is highly genetic, there's a good chance that either parent might have undiagnosed and untreated ADHD. If you see symptoms, get yourself or your spouse evaluated and treated! Raising challenging children also takes a toll on ones' self-esteem and confidence, often causing anxiety and depression. If you or your spouse is struggling, consider counseling to help with the emotions and difficulties you are dealing with. "Special" families have more on their plate and an extra hand in the way of professional support can do wonders for the entire family.
- Seek out support groups such as CHADD, where you and your spouse can go for education and help. Hearing other parents share similar problems can often help you in dealing with yours, while learning new strategies to help your marriage survive. Find the closest CHADD chapter to you by visiting their website at www.chadd.org .
- Dear Abby may not always be right, but heed her advice about getting marriage counseling when things seem to be going off course. Make sure you find someone who understands the challenges of raising children with ADHD and/or other special needs.
- Take time away with your spouse sans the kids. Your relationship needs to be nurtured and taking vacations, even if for just a day or two, is imperative in keeping your love alive.
- Take parenting classes. If you can help keep your child on an even keel, there will be less stress in the family and marriage. You and your spouse need to work as a team and having the right tools to improve your parenting skills will go a long way in improving family life.