Couples struggling with ADD get some suggestions here
My husband was recently diagnosed by a psychologist with Adult ADD after 23 years of marriage. This diagnosis has been very useful for us as it has explained a lot of our marital issues including his hyperfocus on his computer, his forgetfulness, his bursts of anger, his inattentiveness to my needs and his spontaneous and impulsive behavior. Although he will begin treatment soon and possibly take medication, I was wondering if you think that couple’s counseling could also help us.
I always feel that any relationship could benefit from couples counseling to help them sort through the complexities of being in a partnership. In your case I feel that counseling could be especially helpful in teaching you to discuss your feelings and to teach good management tools and communication skills for dealing with the issues surrounding Adult ADD.
I’m seeing more couples in my practice who are struggling with the symptoms of ADD without even knowing it. Symptoms like you described as well as their feelings of inner restlessness, agitation, risk taking tendencies, feeling bored easily, racing thoughts, trouble sitting still, craving excitement, talking excessively and doing many things at once are also symptoms of ADD that can impact individuals and their relationships.
It is a blessing that you now have a diagnosis to explain some of what has been going on in your marriage, but the work to improve things has only just begun. Many non-ADD partners will explain that they feel fed up, despite working really hard to ‘compensate’ for ADD in their relationship, and they end up feeling frustrated and resentful. Keep in mind that you can you cannot change who your partner is. That being said, there are ways that you can cope with the struggles of having an ADD afflicted partner and improve your marriage:
• Try jotting down a note about what needs to be addressed so you can deal with it at a later time, perhaps with a counselor. Maybe keep an ideas and “feelings” journal.
• Don’t forget to do something nice for yourself. When faced with persistent ADHD symptoms, non-ADD spouses tend to focus more and more on their ADHD spouse, rather then on themselves…to their detriment. Spend time with friends for support and much needed time away.
• Insist on being heard, but later. Wait until you are in a calm frame of mind, and sit down with your partner and explain what you need — calmly. You don’t want to give up on your needs, but neither do you wish to sabotage yourself by seeming unreasonable, angry or otherwise difficult to deal with.
• Listen. Be sure to keep your cool and avoid compounding the issues with nagging or anger and make sure to listen. Don’t get used to “ordering” your ADHD spouse around. Converse, listen and question.
All in all, if you work together to create a plan, along with a trained therapist, you will find that it can make you both feel better to be actively doing something to improve things in your marriage.
(Nikki Delaney is a licensed counselor and owner of A New You Counseling in Rio Rancho, which received the Marriage Counselor, Best of Rio Rancho Award in 2015. She is the creator of the “Roommates to Romance” program, which transforms relationships by tailoring counseling to a couple’s specific needs. You can submit “Love Letter” questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or rioranchocouplescounseling.com)
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