How to handle a relationship with ADHD?

Adult ADHD aspects such as distractibility, disorganization, and restlessness can have a detrimental influence on many parts of one’s life, but the symptoms associated with the condition can be especially troublesome for personal relationships.

If one or both partners struggle with ADHD, their personal relationships might suffer from disagreements, frustration, and anger. This is especially evident if ADHD symptoms were never adequately identified or treated. The important thing here is identifying how ADHD affects your relationship and may help you determine techniques and skills to a good understanding with your partner and, as a result, establish a healthier, happier relationship.

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Here are some of the most common ADHD symptoms that can cause relationship problems:

1.    Paying attention is a challenge

If you have ADHD, you may find yourself zoning out during conversations, making your partner feel neglected and undervalued. You may also overlook critical information or agree to something you later regret, which can be stressful for your partner.

2.    Forgetfulness

Even though a person with ADHD is actually listening, they may forget what was promised or discussed later on. Such as, when it’s their partner’s birthday or the grocery they promised to pick up, their partners may begin to believe that they don’t care or are untrustworthy.

3.    Poor organizational abilities

This might cause difficulties executing chores and result in general household tension. Partners may assume they continuously must clean up after the individual with ADHD and perform a significant portion of household responsibilities.

4.    Impulsivity

If you have ADHD, you may blurt things out without thinking, which can lead to hurt feelings. Unfortunately, this impulsivity can also lead to irresponsible and even reckless behaviour (for example, making a big purchase that isn’t in the budget, leading to fights over finances).

5.    Emotional outbursts

Often, individuals with ADHD have difficulty controlling their emotions. You may feel instantly agitated and have a problem addressing matters calmly. Likewise, your partner may feel as if they must walk on eggshells around you in order to avoid a meltdown.

How to cope with the situation

1.     Establish ways of communication that work for you

When one partner has ADHD, communication frequently deteriorates. Although the problem is usually only on the surface (e.g., she’s routinely late for dinner) often reflects a more profound issue (he feels underappreciated because she never shows up on time.)

Couples may also experience a “parent-child” scenario where the non-ADHD partner feels responsible for everything, and the ADHD partner feels like a child. The ADHD individual may experience feelings of guilt and insecurity as a result of this recurring pattern of micromanaging and underachievement.

Couples who try to improve their communication skills might revive stability in their relationship. To effectively communicate with your partner, try the following strategies:

  • To emphasize feelings rather than blame, use “I feel” words.
  • Communicate in person as often as possible — nonverbal clues are imperative.
  • Repeat and rephrase – to keep your attention from wandering, repeat what your spouse says and rephrase it for clarification.
  • Ask questions to clarify any confusion
  • Discuss how your symptoms affect your ability to recall information or complete activities. Sharing your difficulties allows your spouse to better understand how ADHD affects your behaviour.
  • When listening, maintain eye contact.
  • Consider keeping an object you can fidget with, such as a squeeze ball, in hand to keep your mind active during longer chats.

2.     Work as a team

Partners must collaborate to achieve a balance in a relationship. Having ADHD does not necessarily prevent you from finding balance; it simply means that you must rely on open and honest conversation and feedback to find ways to support one another.

3.     Divide duties depending on your expertise

If ADHD meddles with your ability to pay bills on time or balance a budget, delegate that responsibility to your partner. Couples who allocate responsibilities based on their strengths complete their to-do lists without either side feeling overloaded or irritated.

4.     Evaluate the workload

If one of you is feeling overloaded, schedule regular meetings at a specified time to discuss the pressure and rebalance the duties. A weekly check-in allows you to evaluate how you’re doing with your domestic responsibilities and whether you need to make any changes. Weekly check-ins are also an ideal chance to slow down and reconnect, as well as plan time together to improve your relationship. When one partner has ADHD, relationships may rapidly become overburdened by the need to complete chores together in order to relieve frustration, but it’s just as essential to spend time together just to enjoy each other’s company.

5.     Delegate tasks

You and your partner are not expected to handle every area of the household independently of each other (particularly if failure to complete tasks is a common problem impacting your relationship). Assign age-appropriate duties to your children to help keep things orderly.

6.     Rely on routines

Routines, timetables, and visual planners (wall-size whiteboard calendars) lend a hand to individuals with ADHD in knowing what to anticipate, staying on track, and completing essential duties. In addition, when ADHD-affected couples utilize organizational systems to take some of the uncertainty out of the daily grind, they can focus on connection rather than accomplishing tasks and chores.

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