My husband and I have been reading a book, Created for Connection, by Dr. Sue Johnson, that is unlike the shelves of others we have read before. Dr. Johnson leads with the attachment between a child and parent, and relates the depth of this attachment (not the child/parent roles, of course), or Connection, to that which a person seeks in their spouse. Right away, Johnson validates this need for connection, backs by much research and years of treating couples on the verge of break-up, and the rest of the book involves recognizing patterns of behavior that are related to disconnection.
Of course, I am giving a lame summary for this book, so let me share instead that my husband (who shared an article about connection which then led us to this book), who told me within our first weeks of marriage that my outward affection was inappropriate (he grew up in a home where his parents never showed affection publicly), said that connecting to me and enjoying our attachment is what he has always deeply desired. I was stunned and still feel surreal. Of course, this is not a magic book, so don't think I'm going to tell you we are floating around with rose petals and bubbles everywhere. It took a month before it clicked that I think my husband LIKES me - I have thought for years that I have irritated and frustrated him so much, and especially because of my ADHD, that his frequent distance from me is well-deserved on my part.
Yesterday, we were discussing a recent dinner with one of our sons and a family friend who is going through life challenges, during which I felt that I had talked too much, so much that my son and husband couldn't participate, and I was embarrassed. I mentioned that he had withdrawn during the conversation, and he said he didn't recall that. What he remembered was thinking, "I am here with my son, and I am not sure what to say to our friend, but want it to be kind and helpful so that I am an example to both of them." And then, he said, that as he listened, he thought, "She is so good at this and is saying just how I feel but couldn't put into words," but how I phrased it helped him add something in a few minutes. I remember that once he spoke, he did so very well (I was trying so hard not to interrupt him or start making jokes or something stupid). I have never, ever thought that he listened and liked what I said. My husband is a wonderful person, but his face is often serious or blank, and I am not the only person who sees this. There have been times that he has "checked" me at a party or something, or during a conversation with our children, but he said he thought that was normal - I have done that with him, too, he reminded me. But I internalized these "corrections" and the detached facial expressions as being a fool in his eyes, like an ADHD clown.
To hear that he valued me and that he wants to develop a connection with me blew me away! For 25 years we have struggled, screamed, withdrawn, and come close to leaving, gone to therapy and wondered why doesn't what we learned last?! Today, when he kissed me good-bye and said, "I love you," I saw that he meant it. I want to trust him, though it's hard for me to believe that he wants that with me, with all my faults and ADHD and how many times I have disappointed him.
I wanted to share...and I believe that this book works well with The ADHD Effect on Marriage, because ADHD brings a unique challenge for couples, even those who have a deep connection, I would assume. Orlov writes of Connection as well, and Created for Connection expands on that.