Being in a relationship with someone who presents with symptoms of ADHD and possibly other mental health conditions can really test your love and connection to one another.
If you are married to or in a relationship with someone who has ADHD it can cause a lot of arguments, for example, they may come across lazy, selfish, demotivated when they aren’t able to prioritize the household chores like a person without ADHD would be able to. This might lead to you feeling like you have to nag them constantly to get things done or having to do things yourself and taking on all the workload of the house. As you can imagine, if not worked through it can become a huge weight and burden for the supporting partner.
From my many years of experience supporting couples around the world, I have noticed there are common patterns that emerge between couples where one partner has been diagnosed with ADHD.
I want to share the experience of ADHD in a relationship from both perspectives – from the supporting partner and from the partner who has been diagnosed with ADHD.
A supporting partner may experience the following –
- Constant nagging and frustration present in the household.
- They are taking control of the house and doing all the chores/ attending to all the bills.
- They become the more responsible adult and may feel like they are looking after a child because the person with ADHD is not able to complete tasks or may flit from one task to another.
- The sexual relationship is affected because they begin to feel resentment towards their partner and no longer want to be intimate with them. They become less attractive.
- They argue constantly as there is a huge misunderstanding of why things are the way they are.
- They may start to emotionally “check out” because they are tired, frustrated or just unsure where they are in their relationship or how they feel about their partner.
- Feeling like they are not loved or feel alone in their relationship because one of the most common symptoms of ADHD is being distracted or not being able to focus, which can be interpreted as not showing attention to their partner.
A partner who has been diagnosed with ADHD may experience the following –
- They may tune out conversations and may not be able to recall important information which frustrates them and can cause confusion.
- They might begin to feel unloved or unworthy because they are constantly hearing negative things about the way they live life or behave.
- Often people with ADHD can’t understand why they are different or see things differently compared to those around them, for example, wanting to constantly be busy and not understanding the importance of relaxing family time.
- Getting overwhelmed easily because they like to keep busy but then struggle to complete tasks which can, in most cases, have repercussions – especially when it comes to work.
- Tired of being corrected, parented, patronized and misunderstood.
When there is one partner in any relationship with ADHD it can feel like there is no end or relief, but I want to share my most successful techniques and tips that have worked for countless couples to manage the impact of ADHD on their relationship.
Most successful tips that help couples deal with ADHD and build a loving, thriving relationship
- Get support -understand that treatment without medication is possible ADHD and ADD is not an inherited condition, contrary to the commonly held opinion. According to Dr Gabor Mate it “originates in early childhood stresses during the first years of crucial brain and personality development. Hence, change work to unravel family issues and issues with self-esteem is always important.” As well as this physical self care, exercise, nutritious diets, good sleep, hygiene, outdoor activities are all important.
Mindfulness practices, like meditation can be challenging to the ADD mind, however most find my meditations and hypnotherapy tracks extremely helpful.
Following my training in this area and the work of Dr Mate the processes I use combine all of these to help a person make changes quickly.
- Incorporate practical things that can reduce household chores being a burden on the supporting partner – for example, you can split chores or household tasks between one another and then put a reminder on your phones. These reminders can be set with alerts and if the partner with ADHD can get easily distracted, you can set more than one alert so the task can be completed and not forgotten
- Check in with one another regularly – as with any relationship, a couple who are dealing with an ADHD diagnosis may let feelings fester inside and this causes the person without ADHD to pull away. All this does is create more divide and nothing gets solved. I ask couples to have regular check ins with one another – whether it’s via text, a quick phone call, looking over a weekly schedule that is placed on the wall at home etc. This takes the burden off the supporting partner to keep reminding their partner of what is expected of them.
As with any relationship, when both partners make time to plan things together, and check in to see how each other feel, it reduces the tension and increases the love. You both feel more trusting and feel like you can both be more vulnerable with one another. There are less chances for misunderstandings when you are both checking in on one another.
- Change the way you communicate – Instead of nagging someone with ADHD to get chores done, try and find unique or fun ways to communicate. I have had clients play games to see who can get the chores done or bills paid before the other person, with romantic rewards for one another. This keeps things interesting for the person with ADHD and relieves the burden of nagging on the supporting partner.
Use visual cues around the house to remind one another of what needs to be done, this can work well for families with children too.
- Think the best in them and communicate with compassion and empowerment. If you have lost faith in them, they will feel that and may give up changing. May feel that the ADHD and ADD and often anxiety and depression that goes with it is not changeable and resort to feel hopeless.
Remember: ALL BEHAVIOURS CAN BE UNLEARNED
I do 3 day intensives to help people break free from the patterns and beliefs holding them back. Book a free chat with me to find out more.
If you’re not sure whether your partner has ADHD / ADD it is important to keep an eye out for the points mentioned above but equally as important, is the fact that some adults who suffer from ADHD turn to smoking weed, taking drugs, drinking alcohol etc to medicate, numb their symptoms.
Research shows that people with ADHD have lower levels of Dopamine, which is what we call the “happy hormone”, than people who don’t have ADHD. This is one of the reasons why people with ADHD can develop habits fairly easily. Remember ALL HABITS CAN BE CHANGED TOO!
- Boost self-esteem It can be so confusing for the person who has ADHD to function when others around them function so differently, especially if they are constantly told they are lazy, wrong or being belittled. This is why it is vital you keep an eye out if you notice your partner is developing unhealthy habits and do what you can to boost their self-esteem.