No, It IS a Big Deal! Getting ADHD Validation

"When I talk to my fiancé about my challenges with ADHD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, he offers a little advice and always throws in 'It's not a big deal,' as a kicker. He makes me feel as if my emotions are just inaccurate. I feel so isolated and misunderstood."
The Experts | posted by Melissa Orlov

What’s going on between you – unwitting invalidation - is actually a very big deal, but can be addressed.

I suspect that your fiancé is trying to reassure you that he loves you even as you are struggling, but by telling you "It's no big deal" he is actually communicating something completely different – that your struggles don’t matter. This type of comment is called an invalidating comment and is the opposite of what a relationship needs to thrive.

For most couples, becoming aware of this pattern and practicing how to comment in a validating way can fix the problem. So, for example, in response to your school struggles a validating answer might be "I can see how much you struggle and that must really get old after a while!" or "Is there any way I can make it easier for you?" or "What happened today that concerned you?" All of these would both acknowledge your struggle and demonstrate his empathy. He could even say "You know that I love you no matter what, but I hear you when you say this upsets you. Can I do anything to make you feel a little better right now?"

Here’s my suggestion for specific next steps to get away from this pattern ASAP:

  • Talk with him about this problem using the concepts of validation and invalidation. Tell him that you know he means well but that he is /adhd/article/3239.html, _self, communicating something different from what he intends)]] and it both hurts you and your relationship[[br]]
  • Measure this behavior in your relationship. BOTH of you should write on a pad of paper each time you feel either one of you says something invalidating. Do this for two full days. It will help you both see the pervasive nature of this type of interaction
  • Brainstorm better ways each of you can communicate the love you really feel in validating ways once you discuss those two day’s comments (see my alternative, validating comments above as an example)
  • Practice validating each other’s opinions and feelings. Make it okay to point out an invalidating comment when you hear one, and ask that the comment be rephrased in a validating way

With some practice the two of you will be able to communicate more clearly and in a more loving, supportive way.

P.S. – On a slightly different topic, please try to broaden your circle of friends. Good mental health for all of us depends in part upon having a circle of loving and supportive people around us, not just one person in whom we can confide. Having more than one person to talk to will take some of the pressure off of your relationship.

Next Blog » ADHD Systems Built to Last

Previous Blog « I'm Not His Maid!

Copyright © 1998 - 2016 New Hope Media LLC. All rights reserved. Your use of this site is governed by our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.
ADDitude does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The material on this web site is provided for educational purposes only. See additional information.
New Hope Media, 108 West 39th Street, Suite 805, New York, NY 10018