It’s easy to love someone with ADHD when you don’t live with them. But when your life partner has it, it’s a different deal. When I work with couples in counseling, sometimes I bump into this. Arguments, resentments, power struggles and distance can sometimes be traced to undiagnosed or misunderstood ADHD.
How many of these fit you?
You fight disorganization in the house daily
Piles of stuff around the house continually frustrate you
You sometimes think “If he loved me he would remember”
Your partner gets very tense when you do something that disrupts her system of organization
You find yourself reminding him of things way too often
You have felt hurt when your partner tunes out at crucial moments in conversation
This scene from the movie “Up” has perfectly captured what it feels like sometimes:
The thing is, ADHD is not the problem. It’s certainly a challenge, and a big one at times. But once you get to know it better, and really accept that it’s real, things can improve a lot.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re in the middle of a wrenching and important emotional discussion about a life changing problem. In the middle of it, your partner suddenly makes a completely unrelated comment. (see video clip above). If you have not incorporated ADHD into your view of this person, you would understandably be incredibly hurt by this. You would likely think something like “You are so cold and uncaring! You can’t possibly love me if you would change the subject right in the middle of this very important conversation!”
ADHD Doesn’t Care What You Were Saying Just Now
It’s important to separate the person from their tendencies when they have ADHD. If you accepted the fact that focus is “just not their thing,” you can be in charge of refocusing with patience. More importantly, you can start to learn that someone can love and respect you and still suddenly tune out in the middle of talking. When you don’t take it personally, you may find you feel a whole lot better about yourself, your partner, and the relationship.
Knowledge Is Power
Getting educated about how ADHD can impact a marriage through books, websites and even local support groups can make a huge difference in your relationship. It can be amazing how much information and understanding actually changes the dynamics for the better.
Margie Wheelhouse is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Springfield, Illinois. She helps couples build great relationships and repair broken ones.