ADD In Adult Relationships
From Eileen Bailey,
Your Guide to Attention Deficit Disorder.
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ADD in adult relationships can be rewarding and exciting.
In researching for this article, I spoke with several partners in a relationship where one of the spouses had ADD. I also took the time to read thousands of posts on different forums relating to this subject to gain a wide perspective of the problems and issues that result from such a union.
Over and over I heard the same thing: Although ADD is many times blamed for the downfall and difficulties within a ADD/NonADD Partnership, it is not really the ADD at all that causes the problem but how the couple chooses to deal or not deal with the diagnosis of ADD.
Many times, the Non ADD spouse feels put upon, being the main organizer, cleaner, cooker, bill payer and much more. The stress that these responsibilities, when held by only one partner tend to create annoyance at least and irreconcilable differences at most.
Often in relationships with my parents and especially Alene, I was passive surfing the waves of life letting others handle many of the responsibilities but then being impulsive enough to go a thousand miles away to Houston as a logging geologist after doing college on the 7 year plan (hey I'm special ed). I would love for all of them to get together with me just being a fly on the wall to hear them all talk about my frailties and then smile at the little things that made them love me or fall in love with me. I wonder how many of them still think of me in bittersweet sadness. I often thought that I would make my folks happy and it hasn't happened yet (Willie Shatner, "Has been" song ). Then he sings about how maybe you die or think why did I waste it ? Johnny Cash, Joey Ramone, etc. I want to commiserate with others.... that I'm still trying for relationships in the past, present and future....for the kids that I've never had.... or for the kids that might still bear my legacy along with my father and his grandfathers.''''Pegasus , Grecian Urn....So much to learn...together...(putting all of this with music).
How will I build a book,(uh oh the kids have arrived...They snuck up on me. They remind me so much of how devious middle school kids that can be like the Children of the Corn Cheerleaders from Chickasha that loved to get the teacher in trouble when they played pranks on them. The guest of Muffy's daughter was about to walk off with my keys when her mother was picking them up almost acting like they were her own. It was weird. They would have laughed with Muffy and I looking all over the house for the keys. All my important keys were on it. I would have been lost without them and had to have a locksmith come out and make a new set. Hopefully those kids aren't that malicious. Maybe they would mysteriously show up in the couch like the remote. Muffy would be mad at me because I'm absentminded and lose keys and remotes all the time! o
For couples that have stayed together for a long time, these differences seemed to have worked their way out, with each partner contributing to the marriage with their strengths. For example, one couple wrote down every household chore that could be thought of and from there decided which of the partners best fit that responsibility. The lines of social norms were ignored and the wife went out and cut the grass while the husband did the ironing (much too boring of a task for an ADD Woman.) Every task on the list was placed in one of three categories: His, Hers or Together. For the past forty years they have successfully used this system, creating a sense of well being for both partners and allowing each to use their own personalities to contribute to the household. (Although the wife was not diagnosed with ADD until a few years ago, they had the foresight and love to have learned to work out their system many years prior.)
Now it's the 7th day of Scroogemass. Muffy doesn't think that's funny but now we finally have the house to ourselves. It's finally some quality time for us to spend some time together. I will do a chore outside that doesn't require much in organizational skills, getting and chopping firewood. It was so nice last night to start a fire and her friend Marie brought a water foot massager that does foot reflexology that helps with all the pain and headaches she's been having lately. She doesn't have major medical just like I don't. It costs a few hundred dollars often just to visit a specialist! Ron says that should be the first priority otherwise medical costs could bankrupt you!
Ron finally reached me on my cell phone so happy that he finally found my number. The cards were sent to Oklahoma so I'll have his card and his beautiful children's card will be in the mail. I am looking forward to writing back to them! It's getting close to Xmas so I need to send it off! They are the best behaved children that I have met and so proud that they are in my family! :)
Couples in which one spouse assumed that the other has ADD, yet the partner refuses treatment and lives in denial are by far the most difficult. This situation deserves an article of it’s own and will be addressed in a future newsletter.
For those couples that are working to find coping mechanisms for creating a harmonious life together, there are a few steps that can be taken:
1) Be sure your diagnosis is accurate. Be sure that there are no physical causes and check for co-existing conditions that might be present. This will allow you to make sure that you receive the proper treatment. Discuss whether you will consider medication, therapy, both or alternative means.
2) Look for the positive. Find out how ADD adds excitement, spontaneity, and fun to your life together and make a list of the great things about your relationship that you can contribute to having one spouse ADD. Keep these in mind as you go along so that you don’t lose site of why you are together.
3) Determine which behaviors are causing strife. This is certainly not a reason to go hog-wild and bash the partner with ADD (it is so important to complete step 2 first). Look at both the behaviors and the current reactions to them. Place in order of importance for improving your relationship.
4) Choose one or two behaviors to begin working on and brainstorm for strategies for overcoming or compensating for the behavior. Each couple is unique and the strategies must be worked out for your situation.
5) Decide on a method of communication. If you are having a difficult time with communication right now, you might consider some of the methods used by other couples:
One couple uses the phone. The husband is ADHD and tends to talk incessantly during conversations, but dislikes the telephone, so he is much quieter and this gives the wife an opportunity for him to listen to her for a few minutes.
One couple uses email to discuss issues. It works for them by allowing the emotional part of an argument to be removed so that they can work on the real issue.
Another couple uses a kitchen timer to make sure that each partner receives time during the conversation to talk without being interrupted.
6) Keep up your communication and work with each other to not only change unwanted behaviors but also to change unwanted reactions.
All marriages require work from both partners to continue a loving relationship. Marriages with one spouse with ADD can be even more difficult and trying, but can also be rewarding, loving relationships as long as both partners value and respect the other person and the strengths they bring to the relationship.
Other relationships in the past have not done well because of my own lack of organization. When the "future" mother in law comes down to visit, she see's what an idiot I am with practical skills and helps the daughter realize how could this man be a father when he doesn't even know how to fix a toilet.
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