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Overcoming Common Barriers to Practicing Gratitude in Your ADHD Marriage

Gratitude, often underestimated, can be a powerful tool to empower non-ADHD spouses and help them maintain their well-being within the context of ADHD marriages. While many of us often practice gratitude at work and with our friends, it is very easy for non-ADHD spouses like myself to skip gratitude practice in our own marriage because we feel that our spouse should know us better, so we don't have to say it. The reality is ADHD spouses are not good at reading invisible cues. In this blog, we'll explore how to overcome some common challenges non-ADHD spouses have when it comes to finding the positives with their ADHD spouses, even in challenging times.

The Benefits of Gratitude in Your ADHD Marriage

In our previous post, we shared the benefits of gratitude and how it can lead to improved emotional well-being, stronger connections, and a more harmonious relationship. By expressing your appreciation and focusing on the positive aspects, you can reduce stress, enhance resilience, and create a more positive environment.

Common Barriers to Practicing Gratitude in Your ADHD Marriage:

While practicing gratitude might sound easy, there are some common barriers non-ADHD spouses must overcome to reap the full benefits of practicing gratitude. They are:

1. ADHD Behaviors:

Sometimes, our ADHD spouses make it almost impossible for us to feel grateful. This is especially true when you are close to the peak of the ADHD rollercoaster when finding something good with your ADHD spouse is at the hardest. During these times, it's crucial to remember that even the smallest things they do, like getting out of bed early, exercising, or grooming take 10 or even 100 times more self-motivation from our ADHD spouses than us. If you can't find any inspiration from what your ADHD spouse has done for you lately, focus on something that your spouse has done that your ADHD marriage could benefit from in the long run. For example, going to work (working towards your financial goals), eating a healthy meal (working towards better health), or telling you the "check engine" light is on in your car (minimizing accidents). The key is to find something small and the more you practice, the easier it becomes.

2. Comparing Your Marriage to Others

It's common to compare our marriage to those of others, but this can lead to feelings of inadequacy. This is especially true when you have been married for a while. When those thoughts creep in, remember that the other side of the fence is not necessarily greener. In many cases, other people's marriages might have other problems. Furthermore, what you want in a marriage is also different from others, too. That's what makes all of us and our marriages unique.

3. Expecting Perfection

As we settle into our marriages, there is an expectation that our ADHD spouses can read our minds, including our preferences on how we like certain tasks to be completed. When our ADHD spouses try their best and fall short, we go into criticizing mode and can't see the good, even when they have done 70-80% of the task correctly. This is when gratitude is super important as it gives them the extra motivation for your ADHD spouse to self-correct and complete 100% of the task. By starting with a simple "thank you" for all the things they did right in the task and sharing what they could do to make your day (this is the portion of how to redo to complete the task), your ADHD spouse would be super excited to complete the task and will remember this when he needs to perform the same tasks in the future.

4. Time Constraints

In our busy lives, finding time for gratitude can be a challenge. It's easy to overlook gratitude practices when you're juggling work, family, and daily responsibilities. However, carving out even a few minutes each day for gratitude can make a significant difference in your relationship.

5. Perceived Insufficiency

Sometimes, non-ADHD spouses may feel that their expressions of gratitude are insufficient or not appreciated. It's essential to remember that the effort you put into acknowledging your partner's positive actions is valuable, even if their response may not always match your expectations. Remember, your ADHD spouse has received way more negative feedback than you. When they receive gratitude out of the blue, it will take some time to register. So don't get discouraged.

6. External Motivation

It's always more rewarding when both you and your spouse are actively engaged in the practice of gratitude. So, don't undertake this journey alone; invite your spouse to join you in this meaningful endeavor. Consider scheduling a mutually agreed-upon time during the day or week when you both take a moment to express what you're grateful for in each other. To make it even more engaging, you can elevate the experience by gamifying it. Keep scores for a week and decide on a special gesture or gift that each of you will offer the other if you happen to win. These creative approaches are just a couple of ways to ignite motivation and add an element of fun to the process, ensuring that both of you can derive enjoyment from this shared practice of gratitude.

By understanding these common barriers and understanding how to address them, you can begin to unlock the transformative power of gratitude in your ADHD marriage.

Want to take baby steps in your gratitude practice? Join us on our 30-day gratitude challenge in November by posting your gratitude for your spouse as a comment on our Facebook page.


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