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Key Questions for Non-ADHD Spouse to Ask oneself Before Assisting an ADHD Spouse

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

Navigate your ADHD Marriage like a subway map

As a non-ADHD spouse, the realization that my partner has ADHD brought with it a mix of emotions and responsibilities. Wanting to provide the best support possible, I quickly learned that diving headfirst into helping my ADHD partner requires careful consideration. In this blog, I'll share the key questions I recommend any non-ADHD partner ask oneself before embarking on this journey, based on my own experience.

1. Am I Educated about ADHD?

Before I could effectively support my partner, I had to educate myself about ADHD. ADHD is not like any other disease, like diabetes where simply taking medications and adjustments to lifestyle are sufficient in managing it. A lot of battles with ADHD are in thought and behavior interpretation. The more you educate yourself on ADHD the more you properly support your spouse.

2. What Boundaries Do I Need to Set?

Supporting an ADHD partner IS demanding, emotionally and physically. It is a 24x7 job. You need to determine your own limits and set boundaries, or you could get burned out or have a meltdown easily. For me, establishing open communication about my needs, being firm, and balancing them with my partner's requirements are crucial for maintaining a healthy relationship.

3. How Do I Communicate Effectively?

ADHD can influence communication dynamics in a relationship. You needed to assess your communication style and explore alternative ways to connect with your partner. Active listening, patience, and using clear, concise language were essential tools for effective communication. This one is hard to do, especially when you are upset with your spouse. Practice and taking a minute to think about your responses helps you calm down and communicate more effectively.

4. Can I Be Patient and Non-Judgmental?

Supporting an ADHD partner involves understanding that they may struggle with tasks or commitments. Patience and non-judgment are vital in these moments, as negative reactions could harm their self-esteem and our relationship. This one is super hard for me, especially when I am not a patient person. Remember, your spouse might already be beating himself/herself up for not getting the task done. Try to understand what causes the delay and take the appropriate action to help him/her get back on track.

5. Am I Ready to Offer Practical Support?

Supporting an ADHD partner often means being a source of practical assistance. From helping with organization to reminding them of important tasks, you needed to be prepared to offer tangible support without enabling or taking over their responsibilities. For example, you can do a task faster which does not mean you should relieve your ADHD spouse from doing the task. If you do, over time, you will realize you are taking on a large amount of tasks, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and your ADHD spouse feeling unhelpful and potentially your ADHD spouse will stop offering help.

6. Do I Recognize My Own Emotions and Needs?

While supporting my partner, I also needed to acknowledge my emotions and needs. As a non-ADHD spouse, I may experience frustration, sadness, or stress at times. Being aware of my feelings and seeking support ensures I can continue being a strong pillar for my partner.

Supporting an ADHD partner is both a rewarding and challenging journey. Before diving headfirst into this role, it is vital to ask yourself these key questions. By educating ourselves about ADHD, setting boundaries, mastering effective communication, and being patient and non-judgmental, we can provide the necessary support and strengthen our relationship. Being mindful of our own emotions and needs ensures that we, as non-ADHD spouses, can foster an environment of love, empathy, and understanding while helping our partners navigate the complexities of ADHD. Remember, we are partners on this journey, growing and evolving together through compassion and mutual support. If you are like me and have been in an ADHD relationship for some time, what other advice would you give to others that come after you? Put them in the comment below.

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