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The Impact of ADHD on Our Relationship: Balancing Act in the ADHD Circus


If you're like me, you've likely found yourself in a relationship that sometimes feels like a circus, where the main act is the delicate dance of love and understanding in the presence of ADHD. In this blog, I want to share my perspective on the impact of ADHD on our relationships and offer insights that can help you, as a non-ADHD spouse, better connect the dots in your own ADHD marriage.


The Balancing Act: Managing Household Tasks

Imagine your home as a stage, and the division of responsibilities within it resembles a choreography of chaos. As a non-ADHD spouse, you might find yourself shouldering extra tasks to maintain a semblance of order. Bills, chores, and important commitments may often fall on your shoulders. This balancing act can be overwhelming, especially if you're naturally organized.


One strategy that has been a lifesaver for me is leveraging technology. For instance, to ensure my ADHD husband does not forget to do his household chores like his turn of cleaning the bathrooms on a pre-defined schedule, we now elicit electronic calendars to set repeatable tasks and reminders for both of us to keep our house clean or organized. Vice versa, if he needs my help with something he can schedule a time with me and get help. Technology allowed me to stop being a nagging wife because we set different alarms to remind my husband of the chores he needed to do without me intervening. For him, technology allowed him to get my undivided attention to help him during the scheduled time. This has dramatically improved dissatisfaction on both sides.


Providing Emotional Support: Being the Steady Rock

In an ADHD-affected relationship, non-ADHD spouses often become the emotional safety net. You'll experience moments when your partner's emotions resemble a rollercoaster, and your role is to provide stability.


For example, I used to go on overnight business trips for work. I would be away for 2-3 days. My husband would go into his emotional rollercoaster during my trips and would call me multiple times throughout the day, sometimes crying on the phone but unable to articulate what was upsetting him. During the first dozen trips, it was super concerning because I wasn’t sure how to help him. After talking to his therapist, he recommended we provide something that he could focus his attention on during my business trips, for example, have him schedule get-togethers with his friends on nights that I am on a business trip or have him research activities he'd like us to do during an upcoming vacation to keep him from slipping into the habit of calling me multiple times. That helped him keep his emotions stable and allowed me to focus on work when I was away on a business trip.


Navigating Challenges Together: Finding the Right Balance

Our journey as an ADHD-affected couple is like a tightrope walk. It requires balance and teamwork. Open communication about needs and challenges is key to finding common ground in our unique circus.


ADHD symptoms often get in the way of the non-ADHD spouse, interpreting the ADHD spouse's real intent. Just like the previous example where my husband calls me when I am away on a business trip, but he is unable to communicate why he is calling multiple times, causing aggravation in our relationship. Yes, he can’t communicate why in the heat of the moment, but it doesn’t mean he can’t communicate at a later time, when he is much calmer. Being able to determine what causes his behavior, find a solution to help him stabilize his emotion, and then understand his intent at a more appropriate time help me understand how to best handle similar situations when they arise. This helps us diminish unnecessary rubbing of heads in our marriage.



Seeking Professional Help: The Guiding Hand

In some cases, even the circus needs a trainer to ensure a smooth performance. Seeking professional help, such as therapy, can provide valuable tools and insights to enhance your connection.


As mentioned in the example above, it was his therapist who recommended the solution of finding something else to get my husband to focus on when I was on a business trip. Professionals who specialize in ADHD have a wealth of knowledge and can help come up with good solutions that a non-ADHD spouse might not think of quickly.


The Power of Medication: Dynamic Duo with Professional Help

When my husband finally agreed to get professional help and started his ADHD medication, it was a true turning point for us. For him, he described that it was like a fog lifted when he took his medication, making it easier for him to concentrate and keep his emotions in check. For me, it reduced the frequency of marriage friction due to the decreased amount of emotional rollercoasters and outbursts.


Conclusion

Our journey as a couple facing ADHD challenges is indeed a unique circus, filled with both trials and triumphs. Managing household tasks, providing emotional support, and navigating challenges together deepen our connection. Seeking professional help equips us with the tools needed to thrive.


As our story continues to unfold, remember that love is the safety net that catches us when we stumble on the tightrope. Embrace the uniqueness of your circus and cherish the bond it creates. Together, we can overcome the challenges of ADHD and strengthen our love.

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