For the most part, you scored the jackpot with your partner. They’re kind. You love spending time with them. They make you laugh and support you emotionally. The two of you contribute equally to the relationship.
Except…yeah. There are a few challenges.
They’re disorganized. Wherever they go, they seem to leave a trail of clutter and abandoned half-finished projects in their wake.
The words “have you seen my keys? …or jacket, shoes, measuring tape, wallet, glasses… are just as common as “I love you.”
You’ve shown them the hamper over and over, explaining, “this is where your dirty clothes go, NOT the floor.”
You’ve asked them to do a handful of things over and over now for months. There’s little to no follow through.
There are moments where you’re at your wits end. You’re tired of picking up after them, tired of feeling like a nag.
Why can’t they just do what they say they will?
If this sounds familiar (or you have a sneaking suspicion you’re the partner in this example) your spouse (or you!) may have adult ADHD.
Because many of the symptoms of ADHD can be dismissed as personality quirks or lifestyle choices, it often flies under the radar. Many people have it, and never get formally diagnosed.
Here are some ways that ADHD affects relationships, and some strategies you can use to restore tidiness and calm.
Ways ADHD Affects Relationships
People with ADHD are notorious for overpromising and under-delivering. They can be impulsive – including when it comes to finances.
It can be extremely frustrating for the partner of a person with ADHD, many feel as though they’re parenting their loved one: Please! Pick up after yourself!
The person with ADHD may feel criticized and nagged, as though nothing they ever do is good enough. They may make promises, simply to get their partner off their case, then forget all about the promise. ADHD can lead to emotional outbursts and quick fits of anger.
If left unchecked, all of these symptoms can lead to resentment, feeling disrespected and unheard, and underappreciated. Which in many cases splits the couple apart.
Ways Couples Can Work Through the Effects of an ADHD Diagnosis
Learning how to recognize and manage the symptoms of ADHD in the relationship is relatively simple. Here are some helpful ways to lessen the hold ADHD has on a relationship.
One of the best ways to smooth over the rough areas and ensure new habits sink in is to work with a therapist.
The therapist will be able to look at the unique aspects of the relationship and work to empower each individual. Equipping them with the tools and insight to move beyond the negative aspect of the diagnosis, and take advantage of the strengths – the superpowers people with ADHD have. People with an ADHD diagnosis are able to hyper-focus for extended time periods on tasks they find enjoyable. They’re creative and resilient. They can be high-energy and are socially intelligent and empathic.
Clear and honest communication is the secret to a healthy relationship.
This can be tricky for the person with ADHD, which makes it even more important that they practice this, often.
The non-ADHD partner should do their best to be patient. Often, there’s a lot happening inside the mind of someone with ADHD. It takes practice to not give in to the urge of whatever impulse, off-topic thoughts, or other common distractions that tend to arise when something is difficult.
Establish Clear Expectations
Map out who is in charge of what and create clear expectations of what that looks like. This can include goals the couple is working toward with a set of check-in points to monitor progress.
The person with ADHD should focus on under-promising, and over-delivering, taking the time to consider what they can actually accomplish in a given time.
The non-ADHD person can help by checking in at designated times – perhaps when the couple reviews their monthly budget or reflects on where they are in terms of meeting their goals.
Besides regular communication, the secret to working well together is to maximize the strengths of each partner.
By leveraging strengths, demonstrating patience and compassion, and communicating often, the bond strengthens. The relationship becomes healthier.
If you or your partner has ADHD and it’s affecting your relationship, we’d love to help. We offer both individual and couples counseling at our offices in Roseville and Fair Oaks. We’ve helped countless couples and if you need it, we’d love to help you, too.
Therapy in Roseville, CA, Fair Oaks, CA, or Online in California:
If you are ready to change your life for the better, we can help. To begin therapy at our Sacramento area locations or online, follow these steps:
- Contact the Relationship Therapy Center and schedule a free 20-minute phone consultation to learn more.
- Meet with one of our talented therapists
Services Offered at The Relationship Therapy Center in California:
Our Sacramento area counseling clinics located in Roseville and Fair Oaks, CA are pleased to offer a variety of mental health services. Our couples services include: Couples Counseling, Counseling after infidelity, sex therapy, co-parent counseling, family therapy, divorce counseling, intensive couples retreats, and premarital counseling. Our individual therapy services include, anxiety treatment, therapy for children, teen therapy, depression treatment, and individual relationship counseling. Our therapists offer online counseling in California to treat a variety of mental health concerns. Please reach out to our Sacramento area therapy office to learn more about the many ways we can help you or your loved ones.