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ADHD Relationships

Updated on January 11, 2020
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Diagnosed with ADHD in my late 30's, I struggled with unknown ADHD all my life. It makes my relationship with my husband challenging and fun

My husband and I, making it work
My husband and I, making it work

Making an ADHD relationship work

I have ADHD. My husband does not. This can make for some interesting challenges in our relationship. There are times that my ADHD causes problem for us that other relationships may not necessarily have to face. Impulsiveness causes impatience, which can cause me to do things I should probably wait for help with. Lack of visible motivation makes it seem like I don't care even though I do. My inability to prioritize means that sometimes I will spend all morning cleaning one tiny thing in a house that looks like a tornado hit it. Then, I get frustrated and lose control of my emotions, crying and carrying on, when even I can't completely identify the reasons. All of these things are due to my ADHD, and I don't take medication, which makes matters worse.

I did try Strattera at one point in time. Unfortunately, it wasn't right for us. My husband and I met when my ADHD was in full force, although we didn't realize it, and the Strattera, despite making me more focused and able to get things done, seemed to take away my personality. That's when my husband and I decided together that medication was not the answer for us. He would rather deal with all the issues that ADHD causes than have me lose my personality, and I have to say that I appreciate that.

Of course, this means that he and I have to work a little harder at our marriage than an average couple would. He has to be more understanding when I have issues. It also means that I have to be a little extra understanding that he's going to get a little bit frustrated at times and need time away so that he can have more patience. There are times that he needs at least the afternoon to himself, and other times that he may even need a weekend on his own to just unwind. I also need time off sometimes from trying to stay focused all the time. There are times that if I try to focus for another day, I'm going to have an emotional meltdown. There are even times that I'm able to keep it together emotionally, but it results in an actual physical breakdown. I try to take a time out before this happens, but I don't always succeed.

One of the things that you have to be careful of in a relationship such as ours is avoiding the parent-child dynamic. We haven't always been successful, and there have been times that I have felt like a wayward child because I wasn't doing what needed to be done. However, we have started to get past this, and one of the things that helps us to avoid this dynamic is open communication. Almost every night, we sit down and have a discussion. During our discussion time, we talk about what's working, and what could be working better. We actually talk to one another, rather than at one another, and it helps us. If there's something I need to step up and do, that's when my husband approaches that, and does so in a way that is asking for my help. When I feel like there are things that he needs to improve on, whether it's with his patience or sometimes with the way he approaches things, I will bring it up. We discuss things as equals and it avoids the parent-child dynamic that can be so easy to fall into.

Another thing that often becomes an issue with ADHD is getting things done. It took us a while to figure this one out, but we finally did. Everything that I need to do needs to be written down, no exceptions. It needs to be displayed in a prominent location, or with alarms on my phone. If it's not written in a way that I'll be reminded easily, I will forget. It's not I may forget, or I could forget, but I will forget. Therefore, for a long time, we had a whiteboard that we wrote everything on. Now I use my phone with alarms and timers for things that need to be done. I will admit that it can get a little annoying at times, but it works and I'm better able to get things done. If you're setting alarms, the one thing you do have to be careful of is making sure to set the alarms for times that you actually will be able to do what you need to do. Otherwise, you may be back to square one and have to start all over.

Prioritizing also tends to be challenging for me, and this is one of the places where my discussions with my husband tend to be helpful. I'm able to go over my to-do list for the next day with him and he can help me to sort out what is most important, what can come later and what I don't need to do at all. It helps to have a sounding board to sort things out. It helps us both, because it helps him to be more understanding at those times that I can't do everything I'm trying to do. It helps me to realize that I don't have to do it all. After all, part of the problem with ADHD for me at least is wanting to do more than I'm actually capable of and then freezing and not being able to do anything at all.

The most important part of mine and my husband's relationship is that we continue to work at it. If something doesn't work, we adapt and find something that does work. Above all, we love one another, and respect each other. That's what really makes it all work in the end.

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