How to succeed in a marriage when one spouse has ADD

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How to succeed in a marriage when one spouse has ADD 2009-12-30T20:37:25+00:00

The Forums Forums For The Non-ADD I Married An ADDer How to succeed in a marriage when one spouse has ADD

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  • #88168

    Anonymous
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    Post count: 14413

    I do not know how to get my spouse to try tips which other ADD couples have used.

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    #91920

    Anonymous
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    Post count: 14413

    My girlfriend is reading a book by Gina Pera – “Stopping The Rollercoaster” to help her deal with my AD/HD while we figure out my treatment (I’m on stimulants but I’m having a hard time sourcing a coach or savvy psychologist here in Australia, so we’re contenting ourselves with books off Amazon and the odd trip to my psychiatrist).

    Its written specifically for partners of ADDers. She’s said its helped her a lot so far. Hope that helps.

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    #91921

    Anonymous
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    Post count: 14413

    I would love to know the answer to this question. Fortunately, my husband is pretty understanding, but he has his limits. He’s a bit of a controller. He thinks that doing almost everything for me helps me, which is not always the case. In fact, it could be making matters worse. I have ADD. I was diagnosed as an adult. I need to have enough to do to keep sane. Managing the amount and type of activity is the tricky part. I survive and thrive on routine. Sometimes I feel selfish because I’m not always flexible to other’s needs, including my family. My 3 year old often sends my routine out the window! With God’s help, I am learning the balance between rigid routine and going with the flow. I hope this helps.

    What really frustrates my husband is that I’m university educated and yet can follow a simple conversation with him at the end of the day (the most challenging part of my day). It’s a catch 22 – the more frustration he shows, the worse I feel about myself which isn’t helping either of us. Encouragement is huge!!!

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    #91922

    veronica
    Member
    Post count: 121

    “What really frustrates my husband is that I’m university educated and yet can(‘t) follow a simple conversation with him at the end of the day (the most challenging part of my day). It’s a catch 22 – the more frustration he shows, the worse I feel about myself which isn’t helping either of us. Encouragement is huge!!! ” ~simple1

    i’m not university educated, but my hubby feels this frustration with our convo’s, too. how i can talk to some, but not to him. sucks.

    and instead of encouragement i just get frustration and rage. how do you work with that? how do you work on your own things, when your spouse needs help, too…. and dumps things on you? tells you that all you think about is you and how you don’t keep how you affect anyone else in mind. how do you stay positive when all they bring up is the stuff you’ve done and the negative that it’s brought with it?

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    #91923

    Bettyboo
    Member
    Post count: 53

    Hi I can fully understand what you mean. I’m smart but can’t figure out how to have a conversation. I guess what has been working well for me is giving my husband ideas on how to speak with me. I say to him that it is important that when you are speaking with me that you ask me instead of tell me that I’m not listening or saying something like I’m feeling like your not paying attention to me is better then barking at him. It is easier for me when he says it in that manner instead of being accusatory…does nothing for my symptoms. I find that when I repeat what he says to me it reitorates i understand and he seems to respond better to me and feels valued. I also ask him to just touch my leg or arm to make sure that I’m being attentive instead of saying something like “hello are you there” which he found funny but to me it was demeaning. When your symptoms are reduced then his life is better and you can be that wife/partner that can support him and listen to his needs. Also, listen to what he says and what good can you take from that…you may realize that what he is saying is something that you can work on as well. Take the positive of what he is saying…ADD can be a gift if we look at the great characteristics it creates instead of picking on our faults…just makes it worse. Also, please don’t compare yourself to an educated non-adder…it’s not the same. You have add and education that is who you need to be comparing yourself then it’s apples to apples.

    Hope that helps!!!

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    #91924

    veronica
    Member
    Post count: 121

    thank you elizabeth. i’m taking these tools you’ve mentioned and trying to work them into our conversations. so far it’s been a positive. :D

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    #91925

    Rick Green – Founder of TotallyADD
    Participant
    Post count: 473

    The thing that’s often missing for the spouse, or partner or boss or whatever of an ADHD person is having a powerful context for trying out new things.

    I mean, it’s probably not hard to convince a husband to try out a new position in bed. Cause he figures there’s going to be a payoff. In fact, there’s no convincing needed at all, right?

    Have you ever wanted something, a car, or an outfit, or a Blackberry or a trip somewhere. You wanted that thing, badly. You read all about it. You looked at it. You asked people who had one. By time you got to the car deal or computer store or travel agency, the sales person didn’t have to ‘convince you’ of everything. You were sold. You might even have had to hide your enthusiasm, cause they might overcharge you. I mean, if it’s a car, you’re spending tens of thousands of dollars. And you don’t need to be convinced. You know how great the car is gonna be, how much you’ll love it, how much fun it will be to drive…. and so on.

    So why do you have to convince your partner to do something?

    Obviously there’s something missing for them. They don’t think they’ll love it, or it will be fun, or helpful or worth the effort.

    So convincing a partner to take on some of the great suggestions here may be hard or impossible because the reasons you have aren’t good enough for them. Or they’ve never really had the possible benefits explained to them. Or they may have all kinds of beliefs that since stuff hasn’t worked in the past, why should this be different? The question to ask is “What would they want? What would my partner want? What would make them excited?” What’s in it for them? Sure, they want you to be happy. But there has to be more than that. I mean they could give you a billion dollars and that might make you happy, but that’s not likely enough motivation to rush out and try and become a billionaire.

    My wife likes spending time with her family. So if I suggest that working late tonight means we can have more time on the weekend to see her family, well, then she’s totally onboard working late.

    Does that make sense? The thing is that when we want something fro our spouse, we focus on what we want. What is it your spouse wants? I’ve found I’m way more effective when I start there.

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    #91926

    Bettyboo
    Member
    Post count: 53

    Hello Rick, I do clearly understand what you are saying; however, I feel that relationships are about communication especially when one is down and needing support in a manner that isn’t the norm. when both can work on communicating to assist each other the excitement of getting what you BOTH need is the benefit. I hear comprising from you and your wife that is another form of communication. I don’t know of one person who in a commited relationship wouldn’t want to please there partner. I believe it comes back 10 fold in other ways whether it be intimacy, a great connections, validation you name it. If I can communicate with my husband and he feels valued and in turn he knows how to support my weaknesses; I believe is an absolute win win situation. I’m willing to take that risk.

    E

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    #91927

    Anonymous
    Inactive
    Post count: 14413

    One issue that I am dealing with in a relationship with an ADHD partner is that he focuses completely on everything that he needs, he wants, he thinks, he feels, his symptoms, his problems, his frustrations, and on and on and on. I am completely worn out and tired of hearing about everything with ‘him’ in the center ~ I can’t get him yet to look at compromise on anything HE wants, etc…. I am working for the day when it isn’t all about him but I am allowed an emotion, need and frustration too. Couples counseling I hope will finally balance out the relationship ~ I give patience, but he blows up at me for the slightest ‘infraction’, I give understanding, yet there doesn’t seem to be any thought to my side, I give support, but receive none. Please, ADD’ers, make sure that you are giving to your partners as well as taking.

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    #91928

    Anonymous
    Inactive
    Post count: 14413

    I don’t think it is so hard… I don’t have ADD, my husband does… but maybe it helps that I’m a music teacher.

    Last christmas I couldn’t get his attention, he didn’t have good holiday moments growing up and was getting really angry, really loud, really obnoxious about … pretty much nothing… (he got on my case because I was making a mess in the kitchen and left my shoes in the wrong spot…)

    I started laughing on the non-sense which made him really upset. Then, told him to calm down and breath.

    I told him I had a surprise for him. I kept on repeating it in a joyous tone so that he would hear me: Honey, I have a surprise for you!

    I got a gingerbread house kit, and told him to sit down.

    I mentioned to him that it was time to create good christmas moments with his new family in his blessed life.

    We would have all that in one condition: that he would control his impulses if he was making a mess in the table.

    Then I lay down the rules…: No caring about the mess, no negative talk, no arguments and only pleasant conversation. Lots of smiles!

    I said we could talk about anything he wanted while we did the gingerbread house kit.

    When his stress would go up, I would repeat:”Only smiles”

    He had so much fun, and forgot why he was upset as he kept controlling himself and working towards building the little house.

    When he finished, I quickly cleaned up around it and showed the result…

    Then I said: What was so important that you were trying to say before?

    He said: It was not important, this is more important, our family, our house is more important…

    So… I figured that if he is working on an activity it helps…

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    #91929

    Anonymous
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    Post count: 14413

    Funny we spend more time studying for drivers license than we do studying and preparing good partnering and communication skills. We actually do very little preparation or ongoing study for the biggest event our lives our partner relationship??? We tend to rely on the same flawed skills we watched out parents use in their relationship….YIKES!!!!

    Yet we marvel at why we ( mixed brain relationships ) struggle…..basically we have two completely different modes of brain function trying to garner communicative harmony. Not impossible but not for the unskilled either. You put a linear compartmentalized brain function and a random visualizing brain function put in a room together…what could go wrong??? Kinda maybe like a french speaking person and an cantonese speaking person trying to have a chat…. maybe about a vital or emotion laden issue and marveling at the difficulty. Over time it can be down right frustrating….no? It can be done I’m 60 ADD (1980) and married to the same linear process partner for over 35 years.

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    #91930

    Anonymous
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    I just watched the incredibly informative program regarding ADD or is it properly ADHD? I would not want to offend anyone after learning the daily struggle I have been aware of that is my husband of twenty five years life each and every day. I have been aware of the problem in that my son from a former marriage had (and still has) ADHD. He is grown now but, I can never say it was easy as a parent and harder as my husbands wife. To complicate matters he has Narcolepsy so he is given Ritalin for that. I have sent him for testing for ADD and each health care group we have belonged to has bounced him back and forth between Psychiatry and Neurology. It is so frustrating and my husband continues to suffer. His frustration has made him a very disconnected individual and often depressed due to his lack of ability to focus. I learned my communication needs to improve to be heard and understood (or even listened to) as he tunes out I suppose what he feels irrelevant. I am now determined to seek help for him as it has never been easy but, could be so much less strenious for both of us. I learned this from the program and I need to thank KCET for caring, sponsoring and airing this subject as it is so relevant to more people than I believe most people could possibly understand.

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    #91931

    Anonymous
    Inactive
    Post count: 14413

    Before I write about what the non-ADHD spouse can do, I really want to emphasize that it really, really helps if the spouse with ADHD is doing all he/she can to manage his/her ADHD and to take responsibility when things go haywire, tempers flare, under- or unemployment leads to financial stress, etc. It made it a LOT easier for me to think about strategies I could use when I knew that my husband was working on the relationship too, not just on surviving his day. (Though some days really are about survival; I’m talking about the big picture). It also helped when he understood that I was stressed, confused and sometimes even afraid (of his temper, bad financial surprises, whether anything could get better, etc.). I genuinely feel for people who write that they are working hard to manage their own ADHD, then have to deal with a spouse’s expectations, frustration, and annoyance. On the other hand, it can be miserable to be the spouse and be expected to 1) repeat everything at least 3 times to be heard but then be told they are nagging, 2) manage the situation to make it easier for the ADHD spouse but never have the same done for us and still be called controlling, 3) want to see the ADHD spouse as the fabulous adult he/she is, but also deal with the very real frustration and fear that can be caused by not knowing what is going to happen or what the spouse with ADHD will or won’t do.

    Most important stuff: whatever you come up with, your spouse needs to be on board or it will just be an exercise in frustration. Also, both partners need to feel valued and respected or things can deteriorate into sniping, withdrawal, lashing out, or even the beginnings of despair, on both sides. Both spouses/partners need to be willing to do what it takes, even if it is hard. It is especially hard to give up on the strategies that *seem* to work, help you feel in control but are actually incredibly destructive. This is also true for both spouses.

    So, my suggestions, for what they are worth. First, as you might guess, I think that they spouse with ADHD needs to take responsibility for situations and for pursuing treatment (even if I make the appointments and he’s willing to go, I’m good with that). My husband got a smart phone and relies heavily on alarms and online calendars. A blessing from above, that thing. He can take more responsibility and can even remind ME when I’ve forgotten something. Both of us LOVE that. He also went on medication, which is totally his choice, but which I really appreciate since it has helped him and us.

    Now, what do I to work with my wonderful husband? After ten years of marriage during which he was still undiagnosed, I was in a muddle about what was important and what wasn’t. Even what was *real* and what wasn’t. I got super vigilant about everything. Not, when I feel myself get stressed, I think, “How much does this matter, really? Will I remember this next week?” I adjust accordingly. If it doesn’t really matter, I chill. He can’t find his keys? I sit and read a magazine or play with my son until he finds them. Or lend him mine. (BTW: have extra keys and keep them in your own space, give them to neighbors, family members, etc.). If it really, really matters, I call him and use words like “emergency,” “potential crisis,” “disaster,” etc. I know this sounds extreme, but his helps him pay attention and it keeps me from having to throw a fit to get his attention. (Yes, I used to throw fits when I got desperate.) We used to have a DEFCON 5 code, but he built up an immunity to that one. I’m sure I’ll have to switch strategies when these words stop working, but I’m working on that.

    I also have learned when to temporarily walk away from a conversation that is making me feel crazy. By “crazy,” I don’t mean “angry.” I mean that feeling you get when reality seems very shaky and I’m not even sure what I’m talking about anymore. We’ve agreed that I am allowed to do this (he can too when he is overwhelmed), as long as I come back when I feel more together.

    Okay, I have a lot more, but this is the last of the big three. If your house/schedule has gotten really disorganized, you are probably going to have to be the one to manage the digging out process. Sorry, I wish that wasn’t true, I know you probably didn’t collect a lot of the clutter, but this is just the way it is. Before I put in all that work, though, my husband and I agreed on a “no purchases over $50 without a discussion rule (easy with texting — my responses are “sure,” “wait until we talk,” and “No, please.” Also, nothing comes into the house unless something goes out. Organization helps everyone in the house, but it is GREAT for him. It is much easier for my husband to deal with life when the house is organized. It is much easier for him to put things in or near the right place OR for me to grab his phone and keys (that I might find in the upstairs hallway, fridge, whatever) and put them in the kitchen drawer where they belong. Easy for me, less stressful for him, saves time everywhere.

    Okay, last thing, and a little personal. I think it is really, really important to stop managing (aka “parenting”) the spouse with ADD or life doesn’t work as well in the bedroom. Maybe this is more of an issue when it’s the husband with ADD in a heterosexual couple. I have lots of theories about why, but this is another reason why I am a big fan of the ADD spouse taking as much responsibility as possible. Happy bedroom, much more patient, relaxed and happy couple. Hope that’s not too much.

    Oh, by “responsibility,” I do not mean “fault.” I mean, literally, “response ability” the “ability to respond.” This varies for different people in different situations. There is no fault, and taking responsibility is a beautiful thing.

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    #91932

    Anonymous
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    Post count: 14413

    My partner has ADD. Diagnosed off the charts. Medication finally looking like the right one. Drinking and bad habits, for the most part, curbed. Admittedly, we are dealing with an inordinate amount of crap in our respective lives. But that said….

    …for me, everything feels like a struggle…the morning coffee, a simple conversation, he beats himself up for wasting another day, he’s angry at _______ – insert any number of people daily, he didn’t sleep well, the money issues we have (and that in itself is a novel…his bankruptcy and my own issues with my ex! Sociopath and dangerous, with loads of money to keep me hung up in the courts as a sport for him! And I’m supporting most of this household on a tiny income with my child to think about first)

    Yup, the writing was on the wall with this guy. He was not a safe choice in many ways. I thought I could handle him because frankly, I border on ADD myself and am a driven, highly creative, juggle many things kind of artist and business woman. Normal people usually don’t get me, bore me, dont’ support my wacky and shoot for the moon ideas. And my history with my ex and the child we have is enormous and a burden for a lot of folks. I’m a lot to handle….mostly good. I’m nailed down with routine, I am dynamic and positive and usually very happy and laughing a lot. Not anymore.

    So why am I here? On days like today, I can honestly say “it’s not worth it”. This ADD stuff makes him a challenge to simply breathe beside. What seemed initially attractive about me to him is now a source of criticism from him.

    On other days, when I see how much he has repaired my daughter’s faith and spirit, I know why I bother. They have a huge connection so I know ending this will break her heart and she’s just started to get her feet again. He’s been living with us for over 2 years now. It feels like a decade for me! I’ve aged and I’m not being supported emotionally and he’s fleeting in his attention spans to the point of feeling like it’s “catch me when you can” for comfort. Yet, he was only recently diagnosed, is having some success changing his patterns and loves me a lot.

    But what can I do for me? His moodiness, his lashing out, his harmful quips and most of all, his inability (though he’s been hugely financially successful before) to make a living. My situation is nothing short of dire straits because of my ex of course, but day to day, now because of my partner! On good days, it’s great. On bad days, it’s hell. And the roller coaster with his moods and lack of reliability make it feel like I can’t trust the good stuff anymore because it’s so short lived. He’s on meds that seem to make a bit of difference for his focus and that’s when he remembers to take them. He’s been given a ton of vitamins and supplements by me to complement his meds – all doctor approved ( my hobby is health stuff) and he’s curbed his drinking considerably to the point of 4 -6 drinks a week now…it used to be that and then some a day! Between ADD and drinking and bad business relationships, the inevitable happened – bankruptcy.

    So, I know the only thing I can change is me. I focus on my child and my work and getting out of the mess created by my ex and moving on, staying positive, seeing friends, exercising, eating well, meditation. But this guy is just such a diva….he permeates everything I do and am about. And I’m a very strong woman!!! I can’t get the good stuff out of him without feeling like it’s a root canal and he doesn’t step up to the plate with many ideas for how to handle our issues. I’m fixing things and wondering why I waste my time. He’s not fixing things with me and does not communicate virtually anything….ideas, hopes, dreams, jokes….it doesn’t take a genius to figure out he’s depressed.

    So how do I deal with him? Let’s say we’re out for the day in my car doing errands or trying to enjoy a weekend alone and he’s surly and I’m stuck with him? What am I supposed to do that I feel I haven’t already tried?

    Silent treatment? He’ll give it back to me for days on end.

    Ask him calmly and nicely to please treat me with respect? He won’t change his mood and he’ll justify it and then what?

    Throw him out of the car so I can have some peace?

    I wonder how much of this is ADD and how much of this is that he’s just not a nice person at the end of the day, you know?

    What about when he leaves the stove burners on? When all the lights and the fan and the space heater and the dryer – with nothing in it – are left on, and I’m paying the bills?

    What about when he starts criticizing my daughter and I stop him and he gives me a fight for an hour before finally admitting his mistakes. Then two days later, I hear about how I undermine him ‘all the time’ because I told him to stop that behaviour in front of her. (This happens with so many other things and so often, I can’t always be delicate and finding private times and places in which to discuss these issues…Iv’e taken to calling him on stuff in the moment)

    Does ANYONE have any suggestions for me? I can’t change him so I need to change my ways of being with him, all the while protect my child and myself from what is sometimes really negative stuff.

    thanks,

    S.

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    #91933

    Anonymous
    Inactive
    Post count: 14413

    The only way for anyone to get through the day is to cry out to God for help. He will truly answer you because He loves you very much .I have experienced His peace in my life as my wife and daughter have ADD. MY daughter is physically handicapped, Long story to tell. Give HIm a chance you will hear a still small voice in your heart, mind,soul just ask and listen He will listen.

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