Read that again, you probably don’t hear it often enough.
The statistics are scary and at times you might not believe it’s possible to make a marriage work with ADHD in the mix. You fight too much. Your house is a mess. You can’t find your keys. You’re late for appointments, if you even remember that you have them. The bills are late. You say things without thinking or tune out during important conversations. Life is chaotic. And still, adults with ADHD are completely capable of happy, fulfilling marriages.
All marriages have their ups and down, but if one or both spouses have ADHD, the relationship is significantly more challenging. Two people, two lives entwined, every day, under one roof…and ADHD. It’s complex, it’s hard, it’s beautiful, it’s not impossible.
Marriage is like a rope. The entwined threads can either be sturdy or frayed. The rope stays strong and supportive as you both reach and climb upward together. But with too much stress the threads can become twisted and frayed, the rope weakens and gradually your relationship starts to fall apart.
The good news is that you are always an active participant in your marriage. You can choose your role, how you communicate, and the behaviors that can either strengthen or weaken your bond. If you are willing and ready to strengthen the rope that holds you and your spouse together, you will bring back the warm, cozy feeling you had when you first met.
Remember when you met? Do you remember the sparks that were flying between you when you looked into each other’s eyes? Something about that person made you want to spend the rest of your lives together. You can bring that feeling back again. In fact, it can be even better than that – a deeper, more mature and profound connection – if you choose to make the effort.
Relationships thrive when both partners act lovingly towards one another, willing to make an effort to grow, and committed to working on themselves.
Follow these 6 ways to live peacefully with ADHD:
BRING BACK THE LOVE
You loved each other once. As the years go by, you know more about each other. The “real” person comes out. Often you find yourself thinking, what happened to the person I fell in love with? The more comfortable you get in relationships, the more you take them for granted. You forget to nurture and nourish them. Expectations cause disappointment. Resentment sets in, secretly hiding in the background of your lives.
With ADHD, life can be lived impulsively or haphazardly. After a hard day at the office, a stressful commute home, driving children to after-school activities, it’s hard to feel romantic; especially when you are late, forget your keys, or realize you didn’t pick up your kids.
It sounds unnatural, but if you want to emotionally reconnect, you have to schedule private time for your relationship. Yes, that means make a date (like the old days). Put it in your calendar. Busy days filled with work, phones and Facebook can distance us from our partners. Schedule a “shut down” time at least once a week. No phones, no TV, no interruptions. Just be together. Talk about your day. Leave out the comments, judgment, and criticism. Pretend you’re on a first date again.
Life with ADHD is often frantic. Leaving the house, finishing projects, and showing up for appointments on time can be stressful for the person with ADHD. Each day whizzes by. Sometimes you can’t even remember where you went, what you did, and who you were with. ADHD is fast-moving; in the body and the mind. Take time to slow down your body. Intentionally, move slower. Your mind will follow.
People with ADHD have a few more challenges than most. However, everyone is imperfect. Even you. Once you accept your own flaws, you will think differently about your partner’s imperfections. We are human; all of us are struggling through life individually, yet together. Judgmental, critical thoughts distance you from peace and love.
LOOK FOR THE GOOD
Every trait has a positive and negative side to it. The trait that drives you crazy is probably the same trait that brings a benefit to your life. Start by giving compliments. Say something nice. Sometimes you have to look hard to find it, but if you value your relationship it’s worth the effort. Remember your impulsive partner may be the fast-acting doctor, nurse, or EMT who is saving someone’s life.
PRIORITIZE YOUR CONFLICTS
Most things couples fight about aren’t worth the effort. Every comment, disappointment, or difference of opinion does not have to turn your home into a battlefield. Try not to react when negative emotions are strong. Speaking while angry causes damage to your partner and to the relationship. Take space for yourself to manage your feelings and pick your battles.
BE ON THE SAME TEAM
One of the most important things you can do is join forces. Be on the same team. Bickering, competing, and criticizing are habits that are harmful to a loving relationship. When you’re in the midst of negativity, be it an argument or just the voice in your head, remember to regroup, readjust, and realign your thoughts so that you feel united with your partner.
This is indispensable within any relationship. A person with ADHD often feels disappointed, overwhelmed, and frustrated. When a person with ADHD appears to be acting selfishly, it may be that he or she is feeling overwhelmed with their own thoughts. ADHD takes up a lot of mental and emotional bandwidth. It’s exhausting and often the ADHDer is struggling to get through the next task. Slow down, be compassionate, and refrain from judgment. Your ADHD loved one will respond lovingly to your kindness.
An ADHD relationship requires patience and compassion, at times more than other relationships. Understanding what it feels like to have ADHD- without judgment- will help both partners stay on the same page and allow you to regain a peaceful, happy home.
The more love you give, the more you will receive.
June is a personal excellence coach, blogger, and author specializing in ADHD. If you have ADHD, or love someone who does, visit her website, junesilny.com, where she shares her experiences with ADHD.