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Part 3 - Embracing Boundaries: Examples of my own Application of Terri's book, Boundary Boss

Updated: Oct 27, 2023

Setting and maintaining boundaries in an ADHD marriage is crucial. Many resources on this topic focus on strategies for "normal" relationships, but when one spouse has ADHD, the dynamics can be quite different. I will provide you with valuable insights to optimize your communication of boundaries in your ADHD marriage.

Insight No. 1: Commit to her 5-Part Process

In Terri's book, she adopted the Nonviolent Communication Process by Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD, which breaks down the process of structuring conversations when someone crosses your boundaries into five simple steps. I've personally found that adding "Near-Term" to step 5: Communicate consequences, helps ensure my ADHD spouse understands the potentially immediate impact of his actions, which has been essential in our communication.

  1. State the issue

  2. State your feelings

  3. Make a simple request

  4. Suggest an agreement

  5. Communicate "Near-Term" Consequences

I found that the first four steps helped reduce blaming, accusations, and defensiveness, making conversations with my ADHD husband more ADHD-friendly. The addition of "Near-Term" consequences ensures that my ADHD spouse understands the potentially immediate impact of his actions, causing him to think twice about experiencing the consequences.

Insight No. 2: Use Multiple Communication Channels

Many people with ADHD struggle with verbal communication. They may not fully grasp what you're saying, and coupled with ADHD symptoms like forgetfulness and impulsiveness, you might find yourself repeating your message with increasing frustration. To alleviate this, consider using multiple ways to communicate your point to your ADHD spouse. This can help reduce frustration and anger, as they'll have alternative ways to understand your message.

Insight No. 3: Walk the Talk

In some cases, despite your efforts, verbal and alternative communication methods may fail. When this happens, you must take action. Be decisive and firm in enforcing your boundaries by acting on the consequences. If your ADHD spouse senses any wavering or uncertainty, they may interpret it as a sign that you're not serious about your boundaries and continue to cross them. Consistency is key in maintaining boundaries.

Insight No. 4: Applicability to Big and Small Topics with an Example

These boundary-setting techniques apply to various situations, whether they involve significant issues or smaller, day-to-day concerns.

Here's an example of how I used Terri's 5 steps to help me communicate with my ADHD husband:

Situation: My husband keeps disrupting me every 5 minutes when I am working from home on an important project with a deadline in 24 hours.

Boundary crossed: My work is very important to me (I am a workaholic) and for us (financially). Especially when I have a deadline that I cannot miss as there would be consequences at work for me.

1st offense: I use Terri's 5-step process and communicate with my ADHD husband.

  • "Near-Term" Consequence: I leave the house with our only car to work elsewhere for the rest of the day, leaving him with no transportation to get to his friend's get-together in a couple of hours.

2nd offense: I put a sign on my office door that reads: "Working on a deadline, do not disturb. Consequence if you disturb me again: I take the car and leave the house, and you have no transportation to his friend's gathering."

3rd offense: I pack up my laptop and leave the house, leaving him with no transportation to his friend's gathering, which he was looking forward to.

Insight No. 5: It's Part of Creating an ADHD-Friendly Environment

As Dr. Russell Barkley often emphasizes, ADHD is an invisible disability. Just as we create disability-friendly environments for those who use wheelchairs, we need to establish ADHD-friendly environments for our ADHD spouses. Providing structured consequences when boundaries are crossed is essential to creating a supportive environment for their success, much like providing a ramp for someone in a wheelchair. While it may require extra effort, every marriage demands work, whether it's an ADHD marriage or not.


In an ADHD marriage, setting and maintaining boundaries can be challenging, but it's essential for a healthy and harmonious relationship. Applying these insights can help you communicate your boundaries effectively, whether you're dealing with significant issues or everyday matters. Remember to commit to the process, use multiple communication channels, be consistent in enforcing your boundaries, and adapt these strategies to both big and small topics.

Interested in Terri's work? Here is her website so you can find even more information. Terri also create the Boundary Boss Workbook as a companion for the book so you can do all the exercises in one place . It comes out on Oct 28, 2023. Check it out here on goodies you get when you pre-order.

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