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How The Fair Play Deck Can Help Re-Balance Household Responsibilities In Your ADHD Marriage

Updated: Apr 9



In the intricate dance of responsibilities within a marriage, especially when one partner has ADHD, finding effective communication strategies can be a game-changer. One such game that has caught my attention is the Fair Play Deck, but really help me rebalance the house hold responsibilities between my ADHD spouse and I. This is why it has made it on my ADHD Couples Gift Ideas list. In this review, I'll share my thoughts on how this game can help restore household balance between ADHD and non-ADHD spouses.


What is the Fair Play Deck?


The Fair Play Deck is not your typical card game; it's a unique approach to tackling household responsibilities. Designed to facilitate open communication and collaboration, the deck consists of 100 cards representing various tasks and responsibilities in a household. The game aims to create a positive and non-threatening environment for couples to discuss and distribute responsibilities more effectively.


What is in the Deck?

The 100 cards are divided into 6 categories:


Home: Consists of all home chore related cards, like laundry and groceries. things that need to be done on a frequent basis


Out: Consists of cards that are things you do outside of the home, and many are related to kids, like kid's transportation


Caregiving: Consists of cards that are about caring for your immediate family, like your kids, your pets and parents and self-care


Magic: Consists of cards that helps build relationships, like spending time with kids


Wild: Consists of cards that challenging times, like changing jobs or losing a loved ones.


Unicorn Space: Consists of 2 cards (1 for each partner) to dedicates what fills the cup on the personal goals and dreams

How the Deck is played?


The main point of the deck is to jointly identify the most important cards for the couple and have a conversation on aligned goals and expectations of the most important cards. Once the most important cards are identified, what you will be left with roughly 20 cards for discussion. For us, we have left with 19 cards.



With the most important cards identified, you start to go through each card one by one, and one of you will take ownership of the each card.


One the cards are assigned, go through each card and have a conversation on what is the minimum level of standard between the couple. It allows both partners to have their say and agree of what is the expectation on what is considered acceptable and complete, especially for the owner of the task.


3 Reasons Why I Recommend This Game to Other ADHD Couples:


Having tried the Fair Play Deck in my own marriage, I must say it's a refreshing departure from traditional methods of assigning and discussing tasks. The truth is, even a neurotypical person like me does not like to have those boring discussions. The game injects an element of fun into the process, providing a more positive context for discussing responsibilities than a typical adult conversation. Furthermore, because on the "fun" element, it allows the ADHD couples to engage in sensitive topics, like planning for health emergencies, in a non threatening way so that the ADHD spouse won't go down the rumination path.


1) Opening Conversations in a Relaxing Manner


One of the standout features of the Fair Play Deck is its ability to open up conversations in a relaxed and non-threatening way for ADHD spouses. The gaming aspect introduces an element of fun, making it easier for both partners to engage in discussions without feeling overwhelmed.


2) Rebalancing the Load for Non-ADHD Spouses


One of the biggest surprises for me was the willingness of my ADHD spouse to step up to the plate, especially when we are going through the home cards. Because we were able to have the minimum standards conversation on those home tasks, he was very much willing to step up his standards to get closer to mine. The Fair Play Deck has been instrumental in rebalancing the load in our household. My husband, who has ADHD, found it easier to step up and volunteer for certain responsibilities, creating a more equitable distribution of tasks.


3) Aligning on Priorities and Minimum Standards


The game's process encourages couples to align on priorities and establish mutually agreed minimum standards for each task. This helps in creating a shared understanding of what needs to be done and sets a baseline for expectations, minimizing misunderstandings. Furthermore, because there is a true owner of each card, it reduces the friction caused by comparing each other's task performance when you split up the tasks. The discussion also creates a higher level of trust and dependency for us in the relationship.


For example, My ADHD Spouse's ability to folding and putting away laundry had bothered me for a long time. It is always a mess and it causes me stress just by looking at it.

My drawer before Fair Play
BEFORE Pic: My drawer before Fair Play

With the help of the Fair Play deck, my laundry are now neatly folded and put away. That is a big win for me because neatly folded laundry helps me stay calm and less stressed because we agreed on the minimum standard. Now I don't feel so bad when I have Martha Stewart stop by my house for an organization check. (haha!!!)


AFTER Pic: My neatly folded laundry after Fair Play
AFTER Pic: My neatly folded laundry after Fair Play


Tips on Playing the Deck:


We have been going through the card over the last 6 weeks during our weekly check-ins, here are my top tips to help you reap benefits from the deck quickly.


1. Break the Game into Multiple Sittings


To accommodate the attention span of the ADHD spouse, consider breaking the game into multiple sittings. We found success with 5+ sittings, each lasting 15-30 minutes. This approach helps maintain engagement without overwhelming the ADHD partner.


2. Structured Sessions for Different Aspects


Divide the sessions into structured discussions. For example, the first sitting could focus on identifying priority cards, the second on assigning ownership, and subsequent sittings on discussing minimum standards and wildcard scenarios. Periodically revisit the cards to adjust responsibilities based on life changes.


3. Define What Each Card Means Together


When you run across a card and does not know what the card means, you can always look up the card definition on the Fair Play website here. The card definition provides good, but you might still need to add some more details since it not apply to your situation. For example, here is the estate planning & life insurance card, where it talks about the idea of who takes care of the kids if something catastrophic happens to one of us.

For us, we only have cats and for me, I was more concerned about what if something catastrophic happens to one of us. So, we tailor the definition that we both agreed to, put that on a sticky note and stick it on the card to help us recall the modification easily.


Therefore, feel free to add the additional details that is relevant to the card. This will create a sense of collaboration and help you continue to bond over the cards.


Conclusion:


For my marriage, the Fair Play Deck has certainly accelerated the rebalancing of household responsibilities. I find that I am less stressed, more appreciative, and in a happier marriage. For my ADHD spouse, he feels happier and more confident because he understands what is expected of him on the tasks he owns. There are still a few occasions where he didn't complete the task to the minimum standard, but he is now open to accepting it and redoing the task to meet the standard, truly making me feel that I have been heard. We plan to continue continue to incorporate the Fair Play Deck in the foreseeable future of our weekly check-ins. Thank you Fair Play creator, Eve Rodsky.


Have you played Fair Play too? Leave a comment below and let us know your experience!


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