Being married to ADHD is a mixed bag. You fall in love with your partner's charisma, creativity, curiosity, enthusiasm, imagination, intelligence, passion, playfulness, resourcefulness, tenacity, and all around dynamic personality. And then...something happens. The relationship is no longer "new and different".
Remember - the ADHD brain is attracted to novelty. When the mundane necessities of life kick in...all of those necessary tasks require strong executive functions. Research tells us that the rate of divorce is much greater than the national norm when one or both parties has ADHD. That's just sad! But it doesn't have to end that way!
If your partner is the person with ADHD, you may be feeling isolated and lonely:
- Why is it that your spouse attends so keenly to their own areas of interest, but you no longer seem to be one of them?
- Why does it feel like you are doing everything to maintain your home and your family?
- When did so much resentment and anger seep into the relationship?
- How is it that you didn't see any of this before you got together?
If you are the partner with ADHD, you too feel resentment and anger:
- The person that you live with has turned into an incessant nag, always monitoring what you do but never satisfied with anything that you do.
- Why can't your partner relax and just appreciate you for you, like they did when you were courting?
- Even if you are quite proficient and highly respected at work, somehow you don't receive that same level of respect at home.
- Why can't your partner just relax and laugh once in a while?
The patterns that develop in an ADHD marriage are surprisingly consistent. Both partners contribute to the deterioration of closeness. It's very important to differentiate each spouse from their symptoms, whether it's the ADHD spouse who is distracted or the non-ADHD spouse who is nagging. When you separate the person from their actions, you can attack the problem and not each other.
Melissa Orlov has written exclusively on this issue and is well worth the read. ADHD Marriages that are in trouble, but left unattended can descend into anger, frustration, resentment, isolation, and frequently divorce. With education, compassion, hard work and commitment to the idea of rekindled love, it's possible to remake your relationship and experience desire and appreciation and most importantly respect for your partner.
Might be hard to believe, but it's true!!!
Dr. Amen, a specialist in ADHD has some very helpful suggestions for couples in his book "Healing ADD". Here are just a few of them:
- Both partners need to self - educate regarding ADHD; it's roots, impact and options.
- After initial diagnosis, step back from turmoil. Try to start over.
- Try to see the world through your ADD partner's eyes of failure and frustration.
- Keep to-do lists for domestic chores in order to avoid resentment for tasks not done.
- Praise 10 times more than you criticize.
- Establish times for talking and checking in.
- Set clear individual goals and share them. Then look for ways to help the other person reach their personal goals.
- Set goals for each area of your life together and review them on a regular basis.
- Get rid of old hurts.
My professional training is through the ADD Coach Academy. ADDCA is an ICF and PAAC certified coaching program dedicated exclusively to training ADHD coaches. As a trained ADHD coach, I will bring knowledge, best practices, and experience to help you facilitate positive, personal and professional change, enabling you to live the life that you really want.
If you're committed to creating a more fulfilling life, contact me today for a FREE CONSULTATION.