"This ADHD Marriage Can Be Saved!"

How I saved my strained marriage after ADHD caused my husband and I to drift apart.

Lori Evans, Part Two

Laura: Lori is impulsive. The first time I met with her, she told me how disorganized her life was. We started her on Zoloft to manage her depression. She metabolized the medication quickly, so we adjusted the dosage several times. Now she takes Zoloft and Adderall XR.

Doug: The medication helped Lori focus. Now she stays on topic during a conversation and completes tasks on time. But the meds have drawbacks, too. She hyperfocuses on one task, and forgets about everything else — like preparing dinner.

Dee: Lori is bright and energetic, and she wants an organized life and household. When we met, she was critical of herself because she couldn’t focus on tasks.

Lori’s main motivation for dealing with her ADHD was wanting to improve her relationship with Doug. I explained that Doug would be less critical of her if she managed her symptoms and could be trusted to do what she and Doug had agreed on.

We listed Lori’s priorities — cleaning up the clutter, managing her daily schedule, completing household tasks — and talked about how ADHD prevented her from achieving them. Before we came up with strategies to achieve those priorities, we worked on some positive self-talk. Until then, she saw only what she could not do.

Lori: I wanted to organize my paperwork — everything from the monthly bills to the girls’ report cards. Dee and I figured out how to do that. I sit at a desk in the dining room, lock the door so no one bothers me, and I don’t leave my chair until everything is filed away. I have files for bills, ingoing and outgoing folders, and a work-in-progress file.

Dee: Lori couldn’t get to sleep at night. We worked on helping her organize the day, so that she could maximize her productivity. She found that to-do lists help her, and, because she’s a visual person, we’re working on a strategy where she creates a mental image of, say, the kitchen and pictures herself completing tasks on her list.

Lori: I make a to-do list every day. I write down the steps it’ll take to get each thing done. This helps me get started. In the past, I would put off anything I had trouble starting. Now, I choose an item and make sure I finish it before moving on to another task.

Working with Dee, along with marriage counseling, helped me see why Doug was frustrated. Now when we talk or divvy up chores, I write down what he says — in case I forget. We also meet several times a week, to discuss anything we’re upset about.

Doug: I am more patient with Lori and try to compromise. I know how hard some things are for her. We understand each other better. Lori needs quiet time each day, and that’s when she draws or paints. Lori has talked about selling some of her artwork. I do my best to support her strengths.

Lori: I am more confident now. Doug lends a hand and takes on some tasks that I don’t do well — like paying bills. The house is more organized, and I’m not as stressed. As a result, I spend more time with the girls. I feel that I’m a much better mom now.

Doug: Lori has struggled with ADHD all of her life. Although we have come a long way, we accept the fact that ADHD will always be a part of our marriage. My advice to non-ADHD spouses? Keep a sense of humor.

Lori: Now that I cope with responsibilities better, I concentrate on my dreams. I dream about submitting my artwork to a contest. I dream about going back to school. I dream about working. Although family comes first right now, I know now that I will pursue and realize those dreams.

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