Having kids changes your relationship and there is usually a period of shock and adjustment. Some couples go with it, and with good communication can manage the transition really well. Other couples quite literally fall apart at the seams.
As nice as kids are, they are tiring (and emotionally and physically and mentally and financially draining) and obviously ones relationship can and will never be the same once they enter our lives.
As difficult and as challenging as it is for couples with regular, typical needs kid, it is way more challenging for couples with kids who have ADD/ADHD. If you have neuro-typical kids, multiply that intensity by 12590 and you will see what parents of neuro-atypical kids have to contend with every single day. Then imagine the strain that this kid can put on the marriage.
As a result of this and also as a result of many other things (including things like differing on the way you parent your ADD/ADHD kid and family pressure and money – it’s expensive to have ANY kid who requires more help than the average kid) there is tremendous strain on the marital relationship. The latest studies show that 60% of kids with ADD/ADHD have divorced parents. I can believe that. Really.
My husband and I are very aware of the pressure that our kids place on our relationship.
Here are some of the things we do to maintain our sanity and to protect our relationship:
- We make sure that we are on the same side wrt Child1’s issues. There is A LOT of talking about where we are at, what the way forward is, how we are going to cope with a certain situation, how we will handle future situations, which friends WE will hang out with as a family etc etc. There is an unspoken agreement between us. I am the Researcher, the Phone-call-maker, the Scheduler, the Therapist Finder. He understands my need to be practical in times of uncertainty. He understands my need to feel like I’m in control of a situation and that I do this by “managing” things the way I would manage a project. He pitches up at appointments when I need him to. He is the listener who provides opinions and asks MORE questions about things that I didn’t think about. HE is the enforcer. He is the strict parent (I’m also strict but I’m more of a softie – I think we balance out quite well). We often don’t agree on how to best handle a situation but ultimately he implicitly trusts my judgement and my intuition.
- We let them sleep out at MIL at least every 6th weekend AND for at least 5 days during the school holidays. Really this is the BEST kind of breather ever. There is beautiful silence, no routine and your house stays clean. There is NOTHING better than this and it’s like we are on holiday.
- We have really strict rules for bedtime. Our kids know that we don’t want to see them after 8pm – we don’t care what they do in their room, they just need to be out of sight so we can have silence and just have some Mom and Dad time or even individual time to do stuff that we each enjoy doing – this is just as important.
- We have regular couple time. I find that if we don’t do this often enough (like AT LEAST once a week) then we start to seriously annoy one another.
- Regular dates – we go out alone about twice a month – if money was not an issue then we would probably do a weekly going out date night. Am sure that in time we’ll get there. One thing that my DH insists on is NOT talking about them. We are meant to be a regular couple hanging out. NOT parents. We talk about EVERYTHING else except them. In the beginning this is hard – but it does get easier.
To be honest, EVERYTHING essentially boils down to keeping the lines of communication open and talking talking talking.
Often, things do go a bit off tangent and we do go into the occasional funk – really, we are not a perfect couple and in addition to our kids issues we ALSO have our individual flaws. But, as with any relationship (neuro-typical or neuro-atypical kids or not) there are some brilliant moment and some not so brilliant moments.
We have never needed to see a counsellor or a shrink but IF we ever get to a point where this becomes necessary, then we will be sure to go to someone who understands what a neuro-atypical needs child can do to a marriage.
Do you know of couples who have divorced as a result of the strain that Neuro Atypical kids place on the marital relationship?