Many non-ADHD partners want to connect at night with a meaningful "goodnight, honey," a kiss and hug or with some sexual intimacy. Yet disappointment follows when their partner is too distracted or too tired to shine the spotlight of their attention in the non-ADHD partner's direction. (Conversely, I sometimes hear complaints from ADHD partners who say that the demands of their non-ADHD partner to come to bed at a certain time are obnoxious...but that's for a different post.) What to do?
I don't know about you, but I think of the bedroom as a sort of 'sacred' place - a room of refuge and rest - and so it's important that my husband both respect my need for peace in this room and also that we connect in meaningful ways when we are there. So it's a real drag when he's too distracted by (fill in the blank) to notice me at night when we are settling down to sleep. (We fixed the differing bedtimes issue some years ago - that's for a different post...) Over the years, I've learned some things about making bedtime more fulfilling, though:
- Don't take your partner's distraction personally. It's ADHD, not you, and it (probably) doesn't reflect his feelings for you
- Be kind when seeking attention. You'll get much more of it if you cuddle up to distract him towards you, than you will if you complain he didn't give you a kiss yet again
- Don't stew over his not getting it right. Reach out and ask him to make it right - in a very, very nice way. You are about to go to sleep and don't need an argument. And he doesn't need to feel you're constantly carping at him as his last thought for the day.
- Use touch to get his attention. Move over in the bed, put your leg over him, whatever it takes to let him know physically that you are there
- At some point NOT while you are in bed, tell him how much you love getting that goodnight kiss and how much it means to you. Reinforce how much you like getting his attention by letting him know about it when you do (i.e. you are creating a wonderful experience for him to interact with you at night) Something as simply as "that was a nice kiss" can reinforce the positive
- Try not to let computers into the bedroom as they are almost limitlessly distracting (we don't use this rule - my husband's bedtime 'book' is his computer or iPad, and that's just the way it's going to remain, so I've gotten used to it)
- Don't hold out your own affection, waiting for his. This is not tit for tat. If you want affection in your relationship, make sure you are doing your own part!
- Try to go to bed early enough to leave time for affection of some sort
Over the years I've concluded that I hurt myself more by assuming my prince will always pay attention to me when I am ready for it than if I simply reach out and let him know 'hey, I'm here! Would love to (fill in the blank) with you right about now!' Asking for attention when you need it, rather than assuming your partner will know you're interested, is just part of living with ADHD.