People who have Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder tend to have problems with relationships. Sadly, their relationships often end without either partner understanding why. I believe that a large percentage of divorces are caused at least in part by undiagnosed and untreated AD/HD.
AD/HD poses special problems in the area of communication. Someone who has the disorder may listen to his partner poorly, exhibit insensitivity to feelings, forget important tasks or dates, and may seem to pay attention to everything but the relationship.
Plus, he or she may lack social grace and fail to pick up on important social cues. He/she may make impulsive remarks that offend the other partner. The AD/HD person may miss a big chunk of what goes on in his/her relationship by either being tuned into his/her own little world or being tuned out of his/her relationships.
What An Understanding Spouse Can Do To Help
A supportive spouse will make an effort to understand the disorder and work with his/her partner to reduce its impact on the relationship. He or she will not allow the symptoms of the disorder to push him/her away. It will take consistent communication and good planning to keep the relationship in good working order.
Ten Tips For Protecting Your Relationship From AD/HD
1. Frequently call the AD/HD spouse and remind him/her of important tasks or errands so they won't forget, especially if it's something important like paying the electric bill.
2. Provide help in the form of coaching or prompting the spouse to handle social situations correctly, since people who have AD-HD tend to have trouble regulating thoughts, emotions and actions, which makes it difficult for them to interact effectively with others at times.
3. Plan on spending a lot of time improving communication skills. The couple should set goals for improving communication, write them down and make them visible during the discussions. That way the AD/HD-partner will not forget or lose track of the agenda. Because of the way the brain of the AD/HD spouse is wired, he/she has trouble staying on task, so keep the discussion interesting and reasonably brief. Be sure it's a two-way discussion.
4. Assertively assist him/her in keeping focused. When you are having a discussion, check often to see if he/she is still paying attention, and use a sense of humor to gently redirect your spouse when necessary.
5. Help the him/her to develop better organizational skills. This may take the form of making lists together and leaving reminders about what household chores are to be done so the AD/HD spouse can successfully complete them.
If your spouse, child or employee has AD/HD, you can always help out by encouraging them to make “Do Lists" with you. Yes, they will probably need a little help from you. Make the “Do Lists" every evening for the next day.
Alarms on wristwatches can be set to help the person remember when to do certain things. Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) can be helpful devices, as well. Most people enjoy using them and find them quite useful.
6. Consider medication. Medications which are prescribed for AD/HD are effective at controlling symptoms and making it easier for people to communicate effectively and to be more successful in every sphere of life. See your physician about possible medication.
7. Don't overreact when things go wrong. Try to understand and repair the damage. The non-AD/HD-partner will have to avoid making the problems worse by reacting the wrong way or by being critical of the AD/HD spouse's mistakes or shortcomings. This often debilitating disorder is not one anyone chooses to have, so don't make the person feel worse by shaming or making fun of him/her.
Be sure to forgive mistakes. It is inevitable that the AD/HD spouse will make mistakes or have “ADD moments. " He or she will forget to do the banking or feed the dog and will miss important parts of conversations, etc.
8. You can encourage the AD/HD-partner to leave himself/herself notes and reminders to be more thoughtful, to express gratitude or remember the spouse's birthday. In this way, he or she learns to overcome the debilitating aspects of the disorder and gradually accepts greater responsibility for his behavior.
9. The couple may want to work with a therapist or AD/HD coach in improving their communication skills, or use books and other resources for support.
10. Have fun and cultivate romance.
The AD/HD-spouse may neglect to send flowers or say “I love you, " may forget to give a card or chocolate on Valentine's day, may forget anniversaries and other important dates. It may never occur to him/her to prepare for romance. So, he/she should help to plan occasional dates and special nights out where the two can have fun and forget about everything. Maybe the AD/HD-spouse will be responsible for setting it all up on one night, and the other spouse will take care of things on the second night. The AD/HD-spouse should create reminders for picking up the flowers or a small gift to kick the night off. He/she will have to record the special day in the Palm Pilot or calendar.
Overall, you can save your relationship or marriage from the disheartening affects of attention deficit problems if you become aware of the problem as a couple and take steps to deal with it assertively. Be persistant. In time, you will succeed!
Richard Hamon is a professional therapist and coach with over 25 years of experience. His business, Relationships For Success Coaching, helps people to improve their relationships and enjoy success in all areas of their lives.
Richard has written a unique eBook, The Ultimate Relationship Solution: How Secrets Discovered From A Near Death Experience Can Help You Ignite Passion and Realize Success in All Your Relation