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Understanding Your ADHD Spouse: 4 Tips to Bridge the Communication Gap

In an ADHD marriage, the journey to understanding your partner can be quite an adventure. While the love and commitment are unwavering, the dynamics of communication may evolve over time. The challenge often lies in comprehending what your ADHD spouse is saying, especially when compared to how it used to be in the past.

Why Is It Hard to Understand Your ADHD Spouse Now vs. When You Were Dating?

When you were dating, the initial stages of your relationship often felt like a whirlwind of excitement and discovery. Communication was likely smoother, and it might have seemed easier to understand your ADHD spouse. However, as time passed and you transitioned into marriage, several factors have contributed to the increased complexity of understanding your partner.

In the early dating phase, both you and your ADHD spouse were putting your best foot forward, striving to impress each other. This often meant more straightforward, focused conversations. As the relationship deepened, the reality of daily life brought its own set of challenges, including the complexities of managing ADHD symptoms. The demands of daily routines, family life, and work stress can cause distractions and shift the dynamics of communication. Understanding these shifts and learning how to navigate them is key to maintaining a strong connection in your ADHD marriage.

1) Validate What You Hear Your Spouse Say

One of the core principles of improving communication in an ADHD marriage is validation. When your ADHD spouse is expressing their thoughts, emotions, or concerns, it's crucial to validate what you hear.

For instance, if your spouse shares their frustration about an overwhelming workday, you can respond by saying something like, "This is what I am hearing your say, "xxx" Do I have it right?" By asking them to validate what your heard, you acknowledge their experience and create a supportive environment for open communication.

2) Use Association to Confirm Understanding

Associating the information your ADHD spouse shares with familiar concepts or experiences can be a powerful tool. This method helps ensure that you're on the same page and have a shared understanding.

Suppose your spouse discusses a new project they're working on. To confirm your understanding, you might say, "So, it's like that project we tackled together last year, right?" By drawing parallels, you connect the dots and demonstrate your active engagement in the conversation.

3) When There's an Ask, Be Specific and Share Details

In any marriage, clear communication is vital, this is even more critical in ADHD marriages when one spouse has ADHD and the other does not because a majority of the time, even though they understand what each other mean, the expected outcome is vastly different. When your ADHD spouse makes a request or shares something they need, it's crucial to be specific and transparent. Here's where you can provide an example:

Imagine your spouse asks for help with re-organizing his office. Instead of a vague response, say, "Sure, I am happy to help. What specifically you like help with? " Clarity and details can prevent misunderstandings and foster a more productive partnership.

4) Be Patient

Understanding your ADHD spouse requires patience. Be patient because your ADHD spouse sometimes has a hard time expressing themselves verbally due to difficulties in organizing their thoughts, often related to the lack of executive function. When they come to you to discuss something, especially if it's an important topic to them, know that they might have mustered a lot of courage to initiate the conversation. Being patient and creating a supportive atmosphere can go a long way in fostering open and productive communication.

In an ADHD marriage, understanding your partner is a continual journey that requires patience, adaptability, and a commitment to effective communication. By implementing these four communication tips - validation, association, specificity, and patience - you can make remarkable strides in connecting the dots in your relationship.

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