'I Realized Our Marriage Was in Trouble'

How one couple repaired their ADHD marriage with a professional coach.


Filed Under: ADHD and Marriage, ADHD and Relationships, Focus at Work, Adult ADD: Late Diagnosis,

Personal Journey, Part 2

In addition to spending too much money, I had trouble getting to appointments on time. Instead of allowing me to use my AD/HD as an excuse, Ken coached me to make small adjustments to avoid being late. Now when I need to be at work by 8 a.m., I no longer tell myself that I can sleep just five minutes more. I set my alarm and make sure I get up.

Patty: Ken counseled us to break down our large problems into smaller ones that we could solve. He said, "OK, the bills are a mess - what are you going to do about it?" We swallowed our pride and asked Chris's parents for financial help. When it came to clutter in our apartment - wedding gifts and moving boxes filled the rooms - we set deadlines for putting things away. And when we wanted to spend time together, we made sure to write down those "dates" on the calendar.

The weekly schedule of one-on-one time lent an element of romance to our relationship that had been missing. If Ken hadn't asked us to slot in some personal time, I doubt if Chris would have given it a second thought.

Chris: Ken convinced me that my ADHD doesn't make me less of a person. It's common for people to say, "Oh, you have ADHD," as if I just said I have cancer. The coaching sessions made me realize that I'm just as good as anyone. This condition is just a small part of who I am.

Most importantly, Ken made me realize that my life with Patty is about more than just satisfying my needs. I have a wife and a baby, and I have to hold down a job in order to support them. That means I need to get to work on time. Everything isn't perfect. I still have some trouble keeping track of appointments, so I write them down on cards and carry them in my wallet. I also use a Personal Digital Assistant, which I can plug into my computer to view my day's schedule.

When it comes to personal time, our pre-planned "date nights" have been good for us. Once the baby arrived, it seemed like we never had time to go out. Now my mom watches the baby, and we go out and get something to eat or see a movie. This has helped Patty and me to reconnect.

Patty: Ken showed me that there isn't anything wrong with Chris - his thought processes are just different. Now I make sure to talk with him about my expectations. I used to get angry when Chris didn't get up in time to get to work. I'd think, "I'm not his mother - if he wants to screw up his job, that's fine. I'm going to get to my job on time." Now I encourage him to set his alarm. And on the days he doesn't get up, I wake him.

My biggest fear was that I was going to turn into Chris's mother instead of his wife, always barking out orders and making demands of him. But we've learned to negotiate. If he's going out, for instance, I'll say, "Can you be back in an hour?" Chris might tell me he needs two hours. Agreed.

Negotiation doesn't take much effort. I want to help Chris, which, in turn, lowers my stress levels. That's why I don't complain about making the to-do list for the week. I know it's going help our days go a little smoother.

Chris: Patty knows that I'm different from other people and that I don't do things in a "normal" way. For instance, I overlooked her first Mother's Day, which was a big mistake. For some reason, I thought that the holiday was for my mother, not Patty. When I realized how important it was to her, Ken suggested I make it up to her by celebrating later that month. I haven't been overly romantic through the years. I've given Patty flowers only three times during the five years we've been together. But on the other hand, I do things for her that other people wouldn't think of doing. This past Valentine's Day, for instance, I bought Patty a real star. I paid to have an actual star in the galaxy officially named after her.

Patty: That was so romantic. When he does that sort of thing, I know that he loves me, that he's genuine. It makes me realize that love doesn't have to be about chocolate and roses. Sometimes love looks more like one special star in the sky.

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