Orlov adds to seek support when needed, and at the same time, empathize with your significant other.
Adult ADHD and Relationships
Research has shown that a person with ADHD may be almost twice as likely to get divorced, and relationships with one or two people with the disorder often become dysfunctional. While ADHD can ruin relationships, the good news is that both partners are not powerless. There are steps you can take to significantly improve your relationship. Understand and Rebuild Your Relationship in Six Steps , discusses the top challenges in these relationships and the solutions that truly make a difference.
One of the biggest challenges in relationships is when a partner misinterprets ADHD symptoms. For one, couples may not even know that one partner or both suffers from ADHD in the first place. Take a quick screening quiz here. Orlov recalled feeling miserable and unloved in her own marriage.
ADHD’s Impact on Relationships: 10 Tips to Help
Still, to Orlov his actions — in reality the symptoms — spoke louder than words. How the non-ADHD partner reacts to the distractibility can spark a negative cycle: With good intentions, the non-ADHD partner starts taking care of more things to make the relationship easier. And not surprisingly, the more responsibilities the partner has, the more stressed and overwhelmed — and resentful — they become.
Over time, they take on the role of parent, and the ADHD partner becomes the child. While the ADHD partner may be willing to help out, symptoms, such as forgetfulness and distractibility, get in the way. Knowing how ADHD manifests in adults helps you know what to expect. Together you might brainstorm strategies to minimize distractibility instead of yelling at your partner. Orlov likens optimal treatment for ADHD to a three-legged stool.
The first two steps are relevant for everyone with ADHD; the last is for people in relationships. If your attention wanders, tell the other person as soon as you realize it and ask them to repeat what was just said. If you let the conversation go too long when your mind is elsewhere, it will only get tougher to re-connect. As well as helping to lower impulsivity and improve focus, regular mindfulness meditation can offer you greater control over your emotions and prevent the emotional outbursts that can be so damaging to a relationship.
The key is to learn to work together as a team. A healthy relationship involves give and take, with both individuals participating fully in the partnership and looking for ways to support each other. It should feel like an equal exchange. For example, if neither of you are good with money, you could hire a bookkeeper or research money management apps that make budgeting easier.
Divide tasks and stick to them. The non-ADHD partner may be more suited to handling the bills and doing the errands, while you manage the children and cooking. Evaluate the division of labor. Make a list of chores and responsibilities and rebalance the workload if either one of you is shouldering the bulk of the load. Delegate, outsource, and automate. If you have children, assign them chores. You might also consider hiring a cleaning service, signing up for grocery delivery, or setting up automatic bill payments.
ADHD's Impact on Relationships: 10 Tips to Help
Split up individual tasks, if necessary. This is an area where the non-ADHD partner can provide invaluable assistance. They can help you set up a system and routine you can rely on to help you stay on top of your responsibilities. Start by analyzing the most frequent things you fight about, such as chores or chronic lateness.
Then think about practical things you can do to solve them. For chronic lateness, you might set up a calendar on your smartphone, complete with timers to remind you of upcoming events. Your partner will benefit from the added structure. Schedule in the things you both need to accomplish and consider set times for meals, exercise, and sleep. Set up external reminders. This can be in the form of a dry erase board, sticky notes, or a to-do list on your phone.
Dealing with Symptoms Together and Overcoming Relationship Challenges
People with ADHD have a hard time getting and staying organized, but clutter adds to the feeling that their lives are out of control. Help your partner set up a system for dealing with clutter and staying organized. Ask the ADHD partner to repeat requests. To avoid misunderstandings, have your partner repeat what you have agreed upon.
Attention Deficit Disorder Association. Overwhelmed, secretly or overtly, by the constant stress caused by ADHD symptoms. Keeping daily life under control takes much more work than others realize.
Subordinate to their spouses. Their partners spend a good deal of time correcting them or running the show. The corrections make them feel incompetent, and often contribute to a parent-child dynamic.
Men can describe these interactions as making them feel emasculated. They often hide a large amount of shame, sometimes compensating with bluster or retreat. Afraid to fail again. As their relationships worsen, the potential of punishment for failure increases. But their inconsistencies resulting from ADHD mean that this partner will fail at some point.