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How to Overcome Trust Issues in ADHD Relationships and Marriages


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In a recent gathering with other non-ADHD spouses, the topic of eroding trust came up and prompted many to share their thoughts for mutual support. Depending on where they are in their journey, some feel frustrated, helpless, or have come to accept the status quo. Personally, I have experienced all these states and understand the pain and challenges they bring in my own marriage. Over time, I've discovered ways to minimize the erosion of trust and start rebuilding it in my relationship. Today, I'll share some common ways ADHD spouses erode trust with their non-ADHD spouses and my 3 own steps to minimize erosion and rebuild a solid foundation that lasts.


Common Ways ADHD Spouses Erode Trust in Marriage


1. Inconsistency:


ADHD symptoms like forgetfulness and impulsivity can lead to broken promises, missed appointments, or sudden changes in plans. These inconsistencies can leave the non-ADHD spouse feeling uncertain and unsupported, eroding trust over time, like the domino effect.


2. Communication Breakdowns:


ADHD can hinder effective communication, leading to misunderstandings and unmet expectations. The non-ADHD spouse may feel unheard or dismissed, fostering frustration and resentment and vice versa. Over time, these breakdowns can erode trust as partners feel disconnected and misunderstood.


3. Impulsive Behavior:


ADHD can sometimes lead to impulsive decisions or actions with negative consequences for the relationship. Whether it's engaging in negative behavior, making decisions that affect both parties without obtaining agreement from the non-ADHD spouse, or breaking important promises, these actions damage trust within the any marriages and relationships.


What Can Non-ADHD Spouses Do to Prevent Trust Erosion?


I've found these three steps helpful in rebuilding trust and fostering a more harmonious relationship with my ADHD spouse.

Step1: Understand Your Boundaries

Identifying both your personal and relationship boundaries are very important. Specifically, understand which boundaries your spouse absolutely cannot cross is the most critical. Knowing your boundaries allows you to articulate what you need to your spouse much easier.


Before I truly understand ADHD, I believed he should do all the work to earn my trust. After all, I delivered on many of my promises to him. However, as I gained insight into how ADHD challenges him, I realized my expectations were unrealistic. It's like I expect him to run many races, where the races' rules are set by me and my standards, by himself without telling him which race he should focus on, where the finish line is and what does the right paths in each race looks like. Assessing my own boundaries helped me realize that critical instructions are necessary for my spouse's success. For example, deciding that he needs to have a paying job (part-time is acceptable) is an absolute boundary verses putting away laundry correctly every single the time is a nice to have boundary. This revelation made me changed my way to think it is a 100% on him to loose my trust to I have an active role to play to stop the erosion of the trust and build it back up together.


Step 2: Communicate Your Boundaries

Once you know your boundaries, communicating those boundaries when crossed are super important. In the past, I never really explained how I felt when he did sometime wrong or not at my standard. That left both of us at a lost with each other because he did not know why I was angry or upset at him and I did not know why he doesn't know he is just keep upsetting me. Over time, I found that expressing how boundary violations made me feel helped my ADHD spouse understand the impact of his actions or inaction on our relationship. When I finally started leveraging the "I" statement coupled with common analogy, things changed. He started to understand why I was upset at him; the analogy helped him connect the dots faster through association and he started changing his behaviors. This led him becoming more considerate and thoughtful in his behavior around me because he realized the effect it has on me.

 

Step 3: Agreeing on Standards

One of my biggest 'aha' moments is when I was playing the game “Fair Play” with my ADHD spouse - having able to agreed on each task's standard together. It help increase his ability to perform the task to OUR satisfaction. This truly help prevented majority of the erosion of trust for me and allow me as a non-ADHD spouse to stop nitpicking after my ADHD spouse finish the tasks he owns because he understands the task is complete when it meets the agreed standards. Furthermore, this normalized the reaction I get when I point out the task is not complete. So instead of getting "if you don't like how I do the task, you do it" to "ahh, I understand. Let me fix it!"


Check out my detail review on the Fair Play book and game.

 

Conclusion


Rebuilding trust in an ADHD relationship is a path that all couples will come across over and over again. By establishing clear boundaries, fostering open communication, and agreeing on standards, non-ADHD spouses can navigate the complexities of living with a partner with ADHD while preserving or rebuilding trust in the relationship. Let's help our ADHD partners run the right races that truly matters to us.

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R. J
R. J
May 15

I work with ADHD/ADD students, and usually there is a single subject issue as well. For example. If there is a math disorder, these individuals struggle to connect the dots. You'll see in their face the puzzlement to comprehend what you are saying to them. Usually examples of samples. pictures, videos will help them understand because you help them by using a different part of the brain.


Some of these individuals are very bright or gifted; and like fine wine-- they learn how to cope as they get older, but there is always some awkwardness.


I think this is a good outline, and what I found very interesting was that a man I know who has ADD--- and he h…


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Alice S
Alice S
May 15
Replying to

Thank you for sharing your insights. I'm so glad you shared your examples, as they can help others in this journey get unstuck and change direction in their relationships. Your contribution is much appreciated!

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Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Great 👍

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