On Wednesday of this week, I was interviewed for a feature on WebMD about Adult ADHD's effect on relationships. I wanted to share some of the highlights from that story prior to the video being available.
ADHD can have significant impacts on relationships, leading to frustration and resentment among partners. The person with ADHD might feel constantly nagged, almost like they live with a parent, and may ultimately try to stay away from their partner to avoid feeling harassed or like they cannot do anything right. The partner of the person with ADHD may feel like they have to take care of all the responsibilities for the family, leaving them feeling burdened. With this dynamic, you can imagine how hostility builds!
The good news is that you have the power to control the outcomes of your relationship! Through careful, compassionate communication and implementing some basic behavioral/environmental interventions, you can reduce the impact of ADHD.
Behavioral/Environmental Interventions include:
1) Use visual reminders for tasks - like sticky notes or white boards with "to do" item.
2) Make sure the partner with ADHD is paying attention when making a request of him or her. Have him or her look you in the eye before you speak and then have them repeat the request back to you to be sure they heard and understood.
3) Organize your home, particularly the items you need on a daily basis. For example, have buckets for mail and keys right by the door to make it easy to put things away and to find.
Communication Skills Include:
1) Approach communication from a place where you are both calm and ready to be patient and listen and truly hear the other person. Remember that you cannot read your partner's mind and that you do not have all the answers. You likely both feel hurt and frustrated to some degree. Practice compassion to increase the likelihood that the conversation will be productive.
2) Allow one person to state their concerns and then paraphrase their statement back to them before adding anything or responding. This shows your partner that you really are listening and not just waiting to defend yourself or argue.
3) Once the problem is clarified, work together to generate some possible solutions and decide on one to try.
4) If the first solution does not work after giving it a try, go back to the list of possible solutions and try something different.
I hope this information is helpful, and I look forward to sharing the link to the video when it's ready!