Living with and Loving ADHD
Understanding ADHD and the behaviors associated with the neurocognitive disorder provides those with it and those who are in a relationship with them to work cooperatively. With a joint problem solving approach, systems can be put in place to alleviate stressors in the relationship.
ADHD: Diagnosing the Situation
For example, distractibility, which is the inability to control focus, is often misinterpreted as lack of effort, scatter-brained, or not caring. Not being sure the person is really paying attention during a conversation creates distrust and feelings of disrespect. Often communication is viewed as ineffective so the other person simply does not express their need, which frequently results in repressed anger and frustration.
“I quit telling her things because it only made me feel not important enough to her to do what I asked for. I just felt more hopeless each time I was disappointed.”
With the knowledge of how ADHD impacts memory, the deficit can be correctly identified and accepted as not being an intentional behavior directed toward the partner. Understanding ADHD and behaviors that are the result of an interrupted neurocognitive function eliminates a major stressor from a relationship.
ADHD: Tools and Planning
There are numerous tools that can be implemented to reduce the impact of ADHD on a partnership. Although the person who is not dealing with ADHD may be the one to initiate the discussion of employing a system, it is critical to adopt a plan that is effective for both individuals as well as the partnership. Thinking outside of the box and working together will result in a sustainable approach.
For example, creating a routine of a weekly meeting to negotiate and assign expectations of each person for the upcoming seven days and also any non-negotiable dates or activities for the coming month/s. This encourages each person to manage their time and prevents the conflicts created by overbooking. In conjunction with the weekly meeting, recording scheduled responsibilities on a household calendar and locating it in a strategic sight line serves as a visual reminder, an aid in planning, and a tool for managing anxiety.
Living with and loving someone with ADHD can be a fulfilling relationship when both people understand ADHD and accept the behaviors associated with it.