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ADHD Conference Couples Insights from Jonathan Hassall

Updated: Feb 2

2-2-2024 ADHD Conference Couples Insights from Jonathan Hassall recording

My eyes perk up when I see any sessions with the word "ADHD Couples" in the title. At the ADHD international online conference Dec 2023, Jonathan Hassall got my attention. As I listened to his hour-long session, everything resonated with me because close to everything he shared was something I had to figure out on my own. So in this blog post, under the banner of "ADHD Conference Couples Insights," I want to share the key takeaways so you don't have to take 14 years, like me, to figure out how to best thrive in your ADHD relationship.

Who is Jonathan Hassall?

Jonathan Hassall, an accomplished ADHD & Executive Function Coach from Brisbane, Australia, transitioned from nursing and roles in the pharmaceutical industry to become a certified coach in the United States in 2014. As the director of Connect ADHD Coaching, he provides individual and group programs, specializing in ADHD training for health service groups. A respected speaker at major ADHD conferences, Jonathan has co-authored a book and contributed to webinars and articles. His active involvement includes board memberships and participation in ADHD psychiatry and coaching peer review groups. Currently, he focuses on expanding emotional regulation in ADHD and translating executive function theory into practical tools for effective adaptation.

Why I Like the Session:

Jonathan Hassall nails what is needed to have a thriving ADHD relationship that I had to learn on my own over the last 14 years. Things like expecting that an ADHD partner can manage ADHD solely with medications and leveraging your standard communication style are approaches that Hassall shared in his session, revealing that they do not work. He advocates for individual growth and effective communication within the partnership. The emphasis on personal journeys, intentions, and adaptability is highly critical for the relationship to thrive. This truly resonated with me because many of the examples he used during the session were things that I have personally experienced and then had to self-correct.

Key Takeaways:

1. Embracing Change:

  • Jonathan emphasizes the importance of embracing change in relationships.

  • Couples are urged to find new ways of communicating, rebuilding trust, and committing to personal journeys.

  • Intentions play a pivotal role, and the focus is on changing actions rather than intentions.

This resonated with me because when I was at the beginning of my journey, I was very much bounded by my own life experience and knowledge, and would not try to think outside of the box. Over time, I realized that while my experience is relevant with neurotypicals, it does not work for my ADHD partner because the ADHD brain works differently. Truly understanding that took many years and was a tipping point for me, as I was able to open up my mind and try different ways of communicating with my spouse, ultimately making the difference for us.

2. Trust = Reliability:

  • Trust is viewed as an agreement for reliable actions based on intent and clear commitments.

  • The significance of ownership, communication, and active listening is highlighted.

  • Both partners share responsibilities in fostering acceptance, empathy, and patience for stronger communication and trust.

While many non-ADHD partners, including myself, would love to hand our ADHD partners a list for them to do on their own, that just doesn't work. Understanding that our ADHD partners are challenged with executive functioning skills like organization and time management, handing a list over does not equate to task completion automatically. By talking about what the task looks like and mutually agreeing on what is considered task complete, Hassall said it can help build trust back in the relationship. The details in what the task looks like and what is considered task complete help the ADHD partner understand the "bar" of acceptance. Once an ADHD partner completes the task, based on those two criteria, trust is built because the non-ADHD partner sees the partner is being reliable.

TIP: If you haven't checked out the Fair Play game review, check out my Fair Play review article as it can help you have this discussion.

3. ADAPT Problem-Solving Model:

  • Hassall introduces the ADAPT model—Aware, Decode, Accept, Performance, and Tweak.

  • This model emphasizes understanding the situation, accepting what can't be changed, experimenting with adjustments, and adapting as needed.

  • Couples are encouraged to navigate relationships with clear communication, acceptance, intentional intimacy, and reliable connection.

From my own experience, Decode is the most challenging one. For non-ADHD partners, we often have to wear a part-time therapist hat to decipher our partners' motives for doing something. The challenge is many of us are not therapists, and at the beginning, we often decode incorrectly, creating frustrations for ourselves and, worse yet, taking the wrong action. This is why validation is so critical in our communication, making sure we understand the other person correctly to avoid misunderstandings that could lead us down the wrong path and that could help us learn to decode faster.


Jonathan Hassall's insights from the ADHD international conference provide a roadmap for any non-ADHD spouses looking to improve their existing relationships with their ADHD partners. By focusing on personal growth, effective communication, and commitment to adapting, couples can foster understanding and strengthen their connection despite the challenges of ADHD. The key lies in embracing change, trusting intentions, and actively working together to build a resilient and fulfilling relationship.

Rewatch his presentation for free on YouTube here

Want to get in touch with Jonathan? Check out his website here

Share Your Experience:

I invite you to share your thoughts or experiences in the comments section below. Your insights may resonate with others, creating a supportive community where we can learn from each other's journeys. Let's continue this conversation and support one another in navigating the complexities of ADHD relationships.


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