From Bryan: This is a guest post from the ever helpful and always positive ADD / ADHD relationship consultant Melissa Orlov, author of the award-winning The ADHD Effect on Marriage: Rebuild Your Relationship in Six Steps.
“Our relationship shouldn’t be this hard!”
– is a sentiment expressed by many couples struggling when one or both partners have ADHD.
They might fight regularly, get stuck in repetitive struggles about control and chore completion, and start to feel as if the relationship is one extended battle after another.
If this describes your relationship, you are not alone. Statistically speaking, relationships impacted by adult ADHD are more likely to be dysfunctional than healthy.
That’s scary – but you don’t have to be one of those struggling couples!
Learn about the specific patterns that can plague relationships impacted by ADHD and you can interrupt and CHANGE them!
Knowledge is power and you can obtain it to save your ADHD relationship.
Let me give you one example to illustrate how knowing about and interrupting these patterns can completely change your relationship.
One pattern is ‘symptom/response/response’ in which an ADHD symptom is expressed, the other partner responds to that symptom (without realizing that’s what’s happening) and then the ADHD partner responds to the response rather than the underlying issue.
In this common example, an ADHD partner is so distracted that he or she doesn’t pay much attention to the non-ADHD partner (sound familiar? These patterns are quite predictable!).
The non-ADHD partner responds by feeling lonelier and lonelier and getting more and more anxious – finally deciding that the ADHD partner no longer loves her and becomes angry about being ignored.
The ADHD partner hears the anger and responds to that anger with more anger.
The non-ADHD partner is hurt that the ADHD partner is angry rather than “hearing” her pain… so gets angrier yet… soon the couple is fighting and negative much of the time.
What’s really going on:
The ADHD partner is expressing the symptom “distraction” yet neither partner is aware of the consequences of this.
If both partners are aware that the ADHD partner is distracted then they can both define the problem correctly (i.e. it’s not that the ADHD partner doesn’t love the non-ADHD partner, but rather that he/she is distracted) and then solve the problem.
Instead of becoming angry, they could create opportunities to connect with each other in ways that get past distraction – perhaps carving out specific times of the day to talk with each other, going on regular romantic dates, and scheduling times to plan what needs to get done around the house so that the non-ADHD partner doesn’t feel abandoned.
Not only does this approach address the real problem (and therefore solves the problem rather than extending it) it also is so much healthier!
It’s a better approach:
As a marriage consultant I have seen many, many couples get their loving relationship back on track in a way that appropriately integrates ADHD into their partnership and supports both partners.
All you need is knowledge about ADHD and relationships and a willingness to attack the negative interactions between you head on.
What’s the biggest challenge in your relationship? Share in the comments.
Melissa offers live and recorded couples seminars designed to provide the tools couples need to permanently change their relationship for the better. Her latest seminar begins 7 Jan 2013, tomorrow! Go sign up now, click here. That’s an affiliate link, but doesn’t affect you and I highly recommend the seminar for couples who truly want to make their relationship better.
My latest post on Positive Writer: How to Unlock Your Creativity and Stop Feeling Like A Failure ~Bryan